How large is the shared collection?
As of January 3, 2022 there were 68,734 items including 55,232 e-books and 13,502 audiobooks. The circulation statistics are impressive. During fiscal year 2021 there were 864,731 items borrowed by the school section of the CEC! Do you want an up-to-the-minute snapshot of the collection? Do you want to see what is trending in real time? Click here for a constant update of checkouts...
The global pandemic positively impacted these numbers. They are a valuable advocacy tool. For example, there were 54,827 items borrowed in September 2020 but by March of 2021 that number had almost doubled to 105,030. My school joined CEC in January of 2020, and I’m not going to lie: this timing made our library look pretty good to the district administration. My physical library was closed for browsing last year as the space was temporarily repurposed. While I did do limited classroom visits with a cart of books and the Destiny app on my phone, my primary way of getting students to read last year was through SORA.
How do students access the titles through SORA? Titles can be read or listened to using SORA on a:
- Computer, (including Chromebooks) using an online browser
- a phone, through a the SORA app
- a tablet, (including iPads and Kindles)
Authentication is easy. At our school we authenticate with Clever, our digital learning platform. At my last district, we used the student’s and teacher’s school Google Accounts. The SORA interface is very similar to Libby, another app made by Overdrive, SORA’s parent company.
SORA has something Libby doesn’t have: Badges! Of course, just like Pokemon, I needed to “catch them all” to have an exemplar to share with students. The built-in gamification increases the apps popularity. Speaking of awards, last year current freshman, Charlie Hernandez, read 100 eBooks and won a school Remarkable Reader Award. Her sister Sadie is a current 7th grader who has read 58 eBooks. Charlie really likes manga, but as a small library we really don’t stock all the volumes of all the series she enjoys. Here is where the CEC shines. Tressa is wonderful about buying YA manga as well as all the Big Nate books, so getting gaps filled in particular series is easy.
Marketing e-books and audiobooks you can’t physically display can be a challenge, but Overdrive has marketing ideas and templates for social media posts and print posters. When it comes to the gaps in our series, we have even taken to placing stickers on the covers of books advising students to “READ THE NEXT BOOK IN THIS SERIES ON SORA” when we are waiting to purchase a physical copy. When one of my displays gets picked over, I’ll create a QR code linking to an e-book and print it out on a picture of the cover. I also wear my SORA sweatshirt a lot and the bookmarks we distribute in the library are, of course, SORA bookmarks. Last year I used a SORA Scavenger Hunt with a few collaborative classes and an AudioBook tasting as an extension of my “First Chapter Friday Read Aloud”. (Hat tip to Laura Gardner: I got the idea of using a Google Presentation to present book choices from her! Thanks Laura!) Students could read a description of the book and then then click on the “Hear Sample” and listen to the first five minutes of a story in SORA. This sample is always available, even if the book is checked out. I also consider parents who don’t have access to SORA: I created documents like this link board with book covers I created for the Guidance Department last year. Although only students with accounts can click on the covers and borrow the books in SORA, parents can at least see the digital offerings.
No problem Speaking of checked out, students can place holds on books that are unavailable. They will have to go into the app to check for notifications of their requests. Tressa is really good at balancing wait times by purchasing additional copies of a title if there is a demand. Here’s a pro tip: for adult readers, the wait times for popular titles is often quicker in SORA than it might be at your local public library. When Michelle Obama’s biography came out I only waited two weeks instead of the six months I would have had to wait for downtown. OK— I probably shouldn’t have told you this because now you are my competition for great titles.
SORA does offer many simultaneous use titles, many in languages other than English. Right now there are almost 2,000 of these “Always Available Titles.” Beyond eBooks and audiobooks, SORA combines the two in something called a Read Along book. There are 1,500 titles in a number of languages and these books are great for younger students and English Language Learners. The collection continues to expand and CEC is purchasing more non-English titles. My Portuguese speaking students were overjoyed last week to hear Harry Potter read aloud in their native language. Adding public library cards to their SORA accounts and signing up for a free BPL card also maximizes the number of titles available. Creating instructional videos on how to do these things is helpful because there are so many features!
Oh— and when you’re ready: click here for advanced SORA information.
*Please note if you are not logged in to a SORA account some of the links in this article won’t work.