Parentology took a field trip to the Newport Beach Public Library in Newport Beach, California last Saturday. Our destination: the Digital Bookmobile National Tour stop that found us boarding the 53-foot-long traveling exhibit and diving into favorite books via various electronic devices.
Dazzled by all the technology, we asked, “Is this new?” Our very kind guide, Overdrive Digital Book Specialist Marissa Gillett, replied, “Digital Bookmobile started in 2008 in New York City. The first Bookmobile was retired in 2016. This is Digital Bookmobile 2.0, which started in 2017.”
Count us late to the game. Yes, the Digital Bookmobile National Tour has been making the rounds of 48 US states and three Canadian provinces every year since its inception. You can follow its progress online (we have a link under Sources, below) to see when it’s heading to your town.
“We travel to schools and public libraries,” Gillett said. “At public libraries, patrons can come and go as they please. At schools, we have the Sora app, and students will come onboard, then, depending on if they’re elementary-, middle- or high school-aged, we’ll either do a 15-minute presentation or a scavenger hunt.”
Gillett says fans of the Digital Bookmobile, which works in concert with public libraries, are, “Teeny tiny all the way to full-grown adults. So a teeny-tiny kid can enjoy read-along titles, in which a narrator reads words as they’re highlighted onscreen, and picture books with pages that turn on their own. Adults can access the newest, popular content available to them, as well.”
There are two free apps families should be aware of — Sora, for students and Libby, for, well, everyone.
Sora Reading Apps for Schools
The aforementioned Sora student reading app (available on iOS and Android) makes books from school programs and libraries available and easily accessible to K-12-grade students.
Various components, from note-taking capabilities to fonts for readers with dyslexia, customize Sora to the individual reader. Among them:
- Powerful tools: Add bookmarks, make notes and highlights, define words and more.
- Fixed-layout support: Comic books, graphic novels, picture books and textbooks as they’re meant to be read.
- Read-alongs: Select titles have professional narration so you can follow along with text.
- Reading settings for everyone: Adjust the font type (including dyslexia font), font size and lighting in most books.
- Synced progress: Bookmarks, notes and highlights sync between devices so you can pick up right where you left off.
Here’s how Sora works:
Libby can be downloaded to myriad devices, from mobile phones to tablets to computers. Tied to users’ library card, Libby allows for gaining immediate online access to titles.
“People love Libby,” Gillett says. “They get so excited and say, ‘Oh, I can actually borrow books even if I can’t make it to the library?'”
Not only does Libby offers greater accessibility for people who can’t get to the library during open hours, it broadens access to special collections. “If readers have issues with their eyes and have to use the large print font, Libby makes it so every book can be put into large-print font, instead of being limited to the large print section in the library,” Gillett says.
Looking forward to kicking back fireside during the holidays and logging in to a good book? Check out these apps, as well as onsite services at your local library, and get your read on.