Beyond the bookshelf

Ask school officials the world over, and they will tell you that the No. 1 component to learning success is the power of reading.

In an effort to harness the power of technology to that end, the Scotia-Glenville School District has launched eBooks, an Internet-based program that provides safe and reliable nonfiction reference books to students 24 hours a day.

According to Jan Tunison, the library media specialist at the high school, the eBooks program complements the several research databases available online to students. Library media specialists in each of the district's six schools have information about how students and families can connect to the databases, including eBooks.

Middle School Media Specialist Debbie Collins said the students who have used eBooks have had positive things to say about it, especially the 24-hour availability of the resource.

Because of the digital nature of the resource, teachers can bookmark specific entries they think will be valuable for the student and make those entries available to the student. This helps promote the guided inquiry process and enhances student learning during the research process, said Collins.

Some of the collections can even be converted to eight different languages, including Spanish, French, German, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese and Chinese. The books in the collection, which include "American Eras," "New Dictionary of the History of Ideas," "Dictionary of American History," "Encyclopedia of U.S. History," comprise almost 50 online volumes.

District officials learned about the eBooks program through Linda Fox, the director of the Capital Region BOCES School Library System, who initiated discussions with local schools last year regarding the group purchase of databases.

Interested districts formed what they call a buying consortium, which allowed schools to spend their money more effectively and also receive a wider range of resources.

The Scotia Rotary provided $4,000 toward the project. Rotary President David Moehle said that the group funds one major education project per year, and this year the eBooks project caught their attention.

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