First Lady Michelle Obama talks up OpenEbooks initiative for K-12

Disadvantaged K-12 students across the country will enjoy access to thousands of e-books made available by major publishers such as Random House and National Geographic, with encouragement from the White House.

Targeted age group is 4-12, and according to the Washington office of the American Library Association, the related Apple app up is “up and running.” That’s the real news of the day. The basic idea was unveiled last year, following news reports of under-stocked K-12 school libraries.

Here’s a video of First Lady Michelle Obama talking up the OpenEbooks initiative to make “popular and award-winning titles” available to young people who qualify under the program. Funders are the Alfred P. Sloan Foundatin and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. EdSurge has more details.

Nice start! The more efforts like this, the better! I’m highly supportive. But I would like to know the total number of books involved—especially how many can be access at one time and how many are commercial vs. public domain. Value of the books is $250 million, according to the publicity. So maybe it’s a lot of commercial titles. But a librarian has cautioned me to watch out for the technicalities, including DRM-related ones that could influence the extent of access. I’m just being cautious.

Beyond that, we need to look beyond children in high-poverty schools or those in special-ed classes or on military bases. “Mainstream” middle- and upper-class students outside bases, too, could stand to do more recreational reading. What’s more, even though school libraries are the area of greatest need, how about more library spending for people beyond K-12? Annual public library spending in the U.S. is only about $4 per capita. Hence the need for a national digital library endowment. Books, as important as they are, shouldn’t be the only thing funded.

Here’s a link to the related iPhone, iPad and iTouch app for students participating in the program. Just Apple right now?

Meanwhile here are more details from EdSurge:

To access the app, educators can sign up on the site and receive codes for their students. Using those codes, students can download the free Open eBooks app to mobile devices and access a library of eBooks.

White House partnerships on the app are twofold. First, ten major publishers, including Penguin Random House and National Geographic, provided the texts. Second, to create the app and curate the eBook collection, the White House partnered with the Digital Public Library of America, First Book, and The New York Public Library, as well as digital books distributor Baker & Taylor and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The post First Lady Michelle Obama talks up OpenEbooks initiative for K-12 appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.

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