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Customized eReaders: A Floating Journey

Sacramento Public Library Authority (SPLA)
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Problem Statement

Meeting Sacramento’s diverse community reading interests and curriculum support needs through materials and formats is increasingly more challenging. Because of the rapid adoption of eBooks by its library users SPLA can no longer rely on vendor-driven subscription services to adequately meet the demand. Further, the digital divide inherently present in many parts of Sacramento County are measurable in the high use of in-library computers, loaning laptops and wireless, as well as the limited use of existing eBook content services. Providing pre-loaded, circulating eReader devices to patrons is the logical next step to continuous improvement of SPLA’s collection services.


With funding from the California State Library and Friends of the Sacramento Public Library, SPLA has designed and will be testing from April thru August 2011 a replicable model for circulating pre-loaded genre eReaders to the public. More than 130 Nooks will be available at 28 branches and the bookmobile and for staff use, training and demonstration. SPLA will be conducting a rigorous system-wide assessment of: (1) staff and public training provided in collaboration with Barnes & Noble staff, (2) acquisition and delivery protocols for circulating pre-loaded Nooks, (3) impact of “floating” Nooks along with all other library materials, and (4) the value and impact of this new service to library users and community stakeholders. Assessment goals are to inform the State Library as it investigates a replicable statewide eBook solution and SPLA as it determines ongoing collections and service innovations for Sacramento County.


Project planning began 2/23/2011 with weekly meetings of a staff team from circulation, collection services, IT, branch management, management analysis, communications, and administration. An outside consultant (Library Communication Strategies, Inc) was hired to develop and execute with SPLA an assessment including surveys, interviews and focus groups with staff, library users, and stakeholders (4/15 - 8/12/2011); staff training (3/22 – 4/1/2011); media and communications (4/1 – 8/31/2011); floating eReaders launch (National Library Week, 4/11-15/2011); content refresh and more Nooks purchased (6/2011); State Library report (8/31/2011).