Using E-Books

Unlimited, Simultaneous Access

The e-books within the Core Collection will never be out of stock as they are available under unlimited, simultaneous user access. Simultaneous access means that unlike the print world students do not have to wait for the hard copies to be returned by other students or borrow under short loan conditions.

Online 24/7 access

One of the main attractions of e-books is that they can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or wherever you access the internet. Access to e-books is quick and convenient meaning that users can access and use e-books wherever they are and at whatever time they wish. E-books can be accessed remotely, which has clear benefits for distance learners, part time students or people who simply prefer not to go to the campus to read material.

“My course is delivered through distance learning and would be so much harder without electronic resources.”[1]

E-books are easier to locate and to find in comparison to hard copy books for which students have to search in catalogues and then on shelves.

Portability

The e-books and e-books platform can be accessed via a range of mobile devices, ultra mobile PCs, Handheld Game consoles, and mobile phones. E-books can help to overcome issues of physical space in libraries and are easily portable by students. Students do not have to carry big books from one place to another which is especially useful for international and distance learners.

“I can take a lot of books on a single computer, memory card, and external hard drive.”

Copy and paste

E-books enable users to copy and paste pieces of text, and images into their own documents, which can save time, improve efficiency and accuracy of information. The Ebrary platform allows copy and paste with automatic citation.

Accessibility

Digital materials e.g. e-books delivered through a learning platform/Virtual Learning Environments can be far more accessible to blind and visually impaired (VI) students than hard copy, unmanipulable equivalents, e.g. handouts.  There is a range of assistive technologies such as screen readers, and the Ebrary platform is compatible with screen reader technologies including DAISY and JAWS. In addition, the Ebrary user interface has integrated text to speech functionality.

“As a student who has reading difficulties, being able to access online material has made assignments much easier to handle, as there is no worries over returning books or having short loan times.”

“I would like to point out that e-books are a terrific resource for visually impaired students in particular, especially bearing in mind that libraries supply almost no Braille or large print resources and relatively few audio resources.”

However, dyslexic users often find it hard to use e-books in their current form and require some changes to be made in the visual and graphic settings of e-books systems.

Alistair McNaught, Senior Advisor from the JISC TechDIS service has created the video clip below, which looks at the general benefits of ebooks and provides an overview of the accessibility strengths of the ebrary system and how to work around the limitations of the system to maximise benefits for learners. More advice and guidance on enhancing access to resources for those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities can be found at http://www.techdis.ac.uk/. Specific information on e-books can be found here

Information Retrieval

There are numerous search pathways within e-books and search and other tools can facilitate information retrieval, e.g. phrases and words can be easily located via “find” mechanisms and users can search within the text using key words. Additionally, teachers and students can link to specific parts within an e-book and direct users straight to relevant content. Linking is an effective way of integrating e-books in teaching and learning tools such as Virtual Learning Environments, reading lists and learning objects.

The Ebrary platform has simple and advanced search options including full-text searching within individual e-books, as well as metadata elements. Search options include full text, title, subject, author/contributor, publication date, ISBN, Dewey Decimal number and Boolean and proximity search.

College Personalisation

In addition, the Ebrary platform allows the creation of custom hyperlinks. Any selected text within a document can be turned into a hyperlink that will point to a user specified URL, e.g. the college OPAC, VLE, related resource or external web site.

Colleges can customize the Ebrary platform to include College/library branding and colour scheme, Ebrary can also offer advanced customization of the initial landing page. The customised banner and/or landing pages may be hosted by Ebrary or by the college.

User Personalisation

Students and teachers can maintain their own book-lists and notes within the platform environment and export them for future reference.

Additionally users can highlight and annotate text, organise bookmarks, highlights and annotation in multiple customisable folders and export to re Export to reference databases such as RefWorks, EndNote and text files e.g. MS Word etc.


[1] http://www.jiscebooksproject.org/wp-content/jisc-freetext-report.pdf