Back to School: iBooks Author

Whether you’re a school librarian or a public librarian, this is a great time to start considering how to work with teachers or school library media specialists in the coming school year. With so few schools being able to afford to have librarians anymore (an issue for another time), public librarians are in a great position to offer their support and create a mutual network between school teachers where both parties can learn and benefit. And school librarians can do the same.

This year I was inspired by an English teacher at my school who used iBooks Author to create an interactive textbook for her sixth graders. Since the units she was teaching involved folk tales, fairy tales, and mythology around the world, iBooks Author allowed her to compile myriad resources, from text to images to videos, into one place for her students. Then, because iBooks are for Internet-enabled devices, of course, those same resources can then be clicked on and link the students to the sources they come from so they can learn even more about what they’re reading. Goodbye to the readers I used in high school and college, where short stories and essays on our syllabus were compiled into a cheaply bound booklet after the library and the bookstore collaborated to get the legal rights squared away.

I was immediately impressed – and immediately struck by how much a project like this depended on the good relationships between that teacher and my fellow librarians at work. So much work went into a project like this – finding resources, learning how to use them appropriately and legally, being creative with the design of the book, working on technical skills to put them all together… In the end, this teacher ended up with a visually interesting, well organized, highly useful resource for her students. And she inspired other teachers on campus to do the same.

I can see a lot of ways that librarians and teachers – or even students – can use this app to learn from and create with each other. Self publishing a book, maybe? Making study guides compiled from students’ notes over the semester? Learning about the publishing process? The possibilities are endless.

Do you have any plans to collaborate with schools this year? Have you ever used iBooks Author?

About Hannah Gómez

School librarian in Northern California. MA children's literature, MS library and information science (Simmons College). Sometime scholar, sometime reviewer, sometime creative writer, always media-obsessed.
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