As part of some reading intervention we are doing at school next year, I have been asked to look into getting some Kindles. I thought it was a great idea as our students LOVE technology and it would be something different from the typical reading lesson. I don’t have an e-reader myself, so the only things I knew about the topic were bits gleaned from the wider library world. This was not a small amount actually as it is a hot button issue at the moment: viz. Amazon’s recent announcement of Kindle “Unlimited”, where you get unlimited e-book downloads for a monthly fee, was making waves on library-related social media. So I at least knew there were some copyright and legal issues involved with using e-readers in libraries.
My first step was to search the archives of (what I call) “Collective Wisdom” on the Yahoo School Library Network. This turned up several threads that in the end seemed to conclude that lending either Kindle the device or the content violates Amazon’s terms and conditions (they are for personal use only). However some schools still use them, but one librarian commented that you don’t want to be the school Amazon goes after. I do tend to doubt they would prosecute for this; imagine the headlines – “Online Behemoth Amazon Seeks to Stop British Schoolchildren Reading for Pleasure” – not good public relations really.
Another e-reader option, Kobos, came up in the SLN threads. Several school librarians went to great lengths to ascertain the legality of their use in schools and got written permission from the Kobo people. So I am currently looking into this option for our school. It has been suggested to start off with a pilot group of about a dozen students.
Further information on e-reader issues and campaigns:
CILIP briefing on ebooks
Jisc summary statement on copyright issues