Award Report: Kindle-d on-the-go Health News
Beginning in September of 2009, the Long Island Library Resources Council (LILRC) began lending out 2 Amazon Kindles (2nd generation) to medical librarians, with the aim of utilizing an emerging technology for discovery and innovative dissemination of health-related information and news.
Initially, our target audience for this project was hospital and health sciences libraries in Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island, but it also expanded to include any type of library interested in health-related news and/or acquiring knowledge about eBook reader technology. Using the grant funding, we purchased two Kindles, downloaded health-related information and news onto the devices, and circulated them to libraries free of charge for a 21-day loan period. The devices also contain selected readings on how libraries are currently implementing these types of devices into library programs and services. A project blog* was also created to provide updates, information on resources available on the Kindles, and user guides. Our project goal was to provide librarians with the opportunity to learn from and test an emerging technology and secondly to test with patrons how dissemination of information using eBook readers may or may not be beneficial to their representative institution prior to investing monies.
Within the project period, the two Kindles circulated to three hospitals, one academic institution, and one public library. Participants were asked to fill out a survey and rate the Kindle’s physical features and content, which is summarized in the graphs below.
More importantly, participants were asked to provide feedback on how they used the device and whether or not they would consider using the Kindle at their institution. In two instances, the loaning of the Kindles proved to be a successful marketing tool for the medical libraries, with two separate yet equally interesting outcomes as follows:
- Borrower 1: Hospital library participant used the Kindle as a marking tool during National Medical Librarians Month to get hospital staff, faculty, residents, and students into the library to test the device and provide demonstrations not only on the Kindle, but on other resources available from the library. Due to the interest in the device, library usage increased as a result, and the librarian was able to use the Kindle as a marketing tool to get new patrons into the library.
- Borrower 2: Medical center library tested the device both within the library and also within the institution itself. She got approval to purchase three Kindles; two of which will be circulated to dialysis patients and one device for library use.
As the two cases above demonstrate, the Kindle was experienced by numerous people at each institution. Rather than looking at our data quantitatively, to evaluate the success of our project, we looked at the borrowing institution’s innovation and ability to be creative in marketing library services using the Kindle. Although Borrower 1 did not decide to purchase Kindle(s) for their institution, the device was a great tool in drawing in new patrons that may have not otherwise visited the library and then alternatively teaching them about the resources that are currently available.
Other participants cited various reasons for not considering the use of the Kindle to deliver health-related information at their institution including:
- Cost; too expensive
- Issues concerning the theft of the device
- More evidence that other libraries have successfully implemented the technology.
As of March 1, 2010, the project period has ended. However, as we already have an established equipment loan program, the Kindles have been incorporated into this program, and will continue to be loaned to interested libraries in our region.
* Anyone interested in this project is welcome to visit the project blog online at: www.kindledhealthnews.wordpress.com.
Christina Rivera, Special Projects Librarian
Long Island Library Resources Council (LILRC)