Digital Bookmobile rolls into Spain Park

The Digital Bookmobile at Spain Park High School on Oct. 17. (Reporter photo/Amy Jones)

The Digital Bookmobile at Spain Park High School on Oct. 17. (Reporter photo/Amy Jones)

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

HOOVER — While Spain Park High School has an impressive traditional library, full of hardbacks and paperbacks for students to check out, on Oct. 17 the focus was on the school’s digital library.

In the school parking lot sat the Digital Bookmobile, an 18-wheeler transformed into a space where students could walk through and use computers, smartphones, tablets and other devices to get tips on all the ways they can use a digital library.

Spain Park launched its digital library about a year ago using OverDrive, a distributor of digital books that works with schools, libraries and retail businesses. Since then, students have come to rely on the digital library — especially when books are needed but the school is closed.

“With e-books, they can check out anytime, anywhere,” said Bailey Hotujac, an OverDrive representative. “Whether they’re at home or at school, they can always have access.”

Spain Park librarian Marnie Utz said the Digital Bookmobile, based in Cleveland, Ohio, came to Spain Park in order to bring a sense of excitement about the possibilities of e-books and audiobooks.

Spain Park students enjoy the Bookmobile's Video Lounge. (Reporter photo/Amy Jones)

Spain Park students enjoy the Bookmobile’s Video Lounge. (Reporter photo/Amy Jones)

“The district is providing OverDrive to all the Hoover schools, and we really wanted to get it out to the kids in a big way,” she said.

Students congregated in the Bookmobile, playing with the available digital devices such as a Sony Reader, a Kindle Fire, an iPad, a Samsung Galaxy Tab and a Creative Zen digital audio player. Several kids made use of the video lounge, featuring a seating area and a huge TV showing off OverDrive’s selection of e-books.

Utz said Spain Park students — who are all provided an iPad by the school system — quickly reached a comfort level with the digital library, and some prefer to use electronic options over the school’s traditional library. Some, however, prefer to use print books. The digital library is simply a convenient option, she said.

“This helps our library be open 24/7,” she said.

Hotujac said the digital library and the traditional library have the same goal — getting people to read.

“This is just a cool place to be,” she said of the Digital Bookmobile. “Anything that gets kids reading, I’m a fan.”