How to be the Bieber of eBooks


Temporary home until the cart arrives

After jumping the gun on a big announcement last week, I have unwittingly become the Justin Bieber of Books. Let me state for the record that I can’t carry a tune, my dancing is limited to flat-footed swaying and off-tempo snapping, and my hair is in an unattractive growing-out stage that holds zero visual appeal. Yet, I can relate to the overnight-idol status enjoyed by The Biebs. This leap into the frenetic world of starry-eyed students and impossible scheduling demands was not due to my talent or my charming smile but to an unexpected call from our district technology coordinator which went something like this:

HER: “Hey, I have a few thousand dollars I need to spend soon or I lose it. How do you feel about Kindles in the library?”

ME: <Stunned Silence>

HER: Seriously. We could order around 30 and still have $600 dollars to buy content.”

ME: <After stammering and thinking about how this was the first year that I was given NO money to buy ANY books and suddenly a windfall of e-cash appears out of nowhere.> YES! DO IT NOW!

In reality, we did have more in-depth conversations, and decided to order the Kindles three weeks ago. They arrived twelve days ago, and my giddy announcement to students and staff slipped out shortly after that. Elated chaos ensued:  students lined up at the circulation desk, posted to the library Facebook page, emailed me, left notes in my mailbox, and accosted me in the hall. It was then that the reality of my situation took shape–in short, I had vastly underestimated the time it would take to prepare the Kindles for actual use.

I will conclude this post, which will be the first in a series related to my Kindle saga,  with

Truths I Wish I Had Known Before I Announced the Kindles to the World:

1. As of today, none of the 30 Kindles in my possession are ready to be checked out. In fact, due to a mysterious “credit cap” at Amazon, we were told last week that we had to re-submit paperwork which pushed back my ability to purchase content another week.

2. There are a thousand details about setting up accounts, hand-registering devices, purchasing content, assigning content, and storing the devices that need to be ironed out.

3. There are a thousand more details and decisions regarding cataloging the Kindles themselves, not to mention cataloging the eBook titles loaded into each device.

4. When you are the only librarian in the district (no aides or volunteers), and the only librarian in your OPAC group who has eReader devices, there are no readily-available ebook records. This means you will spend countless hours researching outside programs, doing original cataloging and modifying derived MARC records.

5. And in the middle of ironing out the details in each of the above areas, a thousand other considerations will present themselves.

Progress as of Today

As of this post, 30 Kindles, organized into groups of 5 with color-coded cases lay spread on carts in my office, not-so-far from the madding crowd of students who are drooling to get their hands on them, while the Beiber of eBooks happily fights to keep them at bay. The Kindles are registered and cataloged, A document listing titles-to-be-purchased, along with the link to the Amazon download, sits in My Documents, and I am awaiting the gift cards with which I will purchase this content.

I will keep you posted, IF I can maintain my sanity and keep the fans from breaking down the walls in the meantime.


3 thoughts on “How to be the Bieber of eBooks

  1. Chris Gustafson says:

    Just went through this with fifteen Kindles for my school library. Wish I had known that it would look like they connected to our school wireless network but the inability to download could not be fixed at the building level. Wish I had known that taking them all home would overwhelm my little wireless network. Wish I had know that I could register them all on my desktop and not with their teeny keyboards. Thankful for the free wireless at the public library where I finally got the sample downloads to work. Good to know there may be a delay when I try to get the gift card part to work. Keep sending out info!

    • So your Kindles DIDN’T connect at school? What a nightmare! Ours are 3G, and I felt inconvenienced because I sometimes I had to walk down the hall to get a signal. I can’t imagine having to lug them all home. (Here is a tip: once you load the content, you will need to De-register each device because anyone can download content… it is not password protected.)

      How long have you had them? Sounds like you are waiting for content as well. I will post about the soon about some cataloging tips. I’ve been experimenting with MARC fields to see how titles will appear to students in my online catalog. Good luck!

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