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Softlink solutions to support learning – Part 3



In part 1 of this series we looked at how Oliver library software can support learning by encouraging reading, student engagement and library use, and by supporting learning and research.

In part 2, we looked at LearnPath as a tool to support online learning and research, provide opportunities for collaboration, and support the curriculum.

In this post we will look at OverDrive for building a digital library that can provide more than a physical library can offer, a digital collection beyond eBooks, and for promoting reading and engagement even with struggling or reluctant readers.

Softlink is the official reseller for OverDrive in Australia

OverDrive - more than a physical library can offer

Responses to the annual Softlink School Library Survey consistently place promoting and supporting reading for pleasure as a top priority for school library staff. 

Although a top priority, there are several challenges or barriers that could be faced in achieving this goal, such as lack of access to resources, learning difficulties, at home access to appropriate or interesting resources, student engagement, family engagement… the list goes on.

OverDrive can help support reading for pleasure by providing:

  • A tool to extend the walls of the library
  • A tool to support struggling readers
  • A tool to engage reluctant readers
  • A tool to help parents partner with reading engagement

A tool to extend the walls of the library


Providing a wide range of books to cater to the diverse interests of students can be challenging within the confines of a physical library. With limited space and budgets, school library staff are faced with choosing which title should take up valuable real estate on their library shelf, and which to let pass by.

While physical books do still have an important place in the school library, an eBook subscription can extend beyond the physical confines of your library.

OverDrive offers over 2.2 million eBooks, narrated eBooks, audiobooks, music, and videos available across a full range of subjects, from 5,000 publishers, and with over 50,000 Australian titles.

Furthermore, these titles are accessible 24/7, on any digital device, giving students access to books, even when the library is closed or if, for any reason (school holidays, illness etc), they are unable to access the physical library – so students who are on that reading for pleasure journey do not become disengaged.

OverDrive also integrates seamlessly with Oliver v5, enabling students to search directly within the library catalogue in the same way they are used to searching for a physical resource.

A tool to support struggling readers

For struggling readers, moving towards reading for pleasure presents a difficult challenge. For some students they may struggle with decoding the text; some may have physical barriers that prevent them from reading independently, or even communicating what books excite them.

Overcoming barriers to reading engagement

Stefanie Young, Literacy Learning Specialist at a special needs school shared a blog post with us that details how she has cultivated a love of reading with students who are non-verbal, have no independent mobility, and require assistive technology.

For Stefanie, the keys to develop a love of reading included:

  • Empowering students to search for and choose books independently
  • Using tools that help students to read books independently
  • Providing access to popular, age equivalent titles

With OverDrive, she was able to offer students audio books and read along books which helped students using eye gaze or switches to learn to read. The simple interface meant that they could access and read books, that they were able to choose for themselves, from a range of popular titles.

Stefanie also shared that, as many public libraries in Victoria use OverDrive, the reading for pleasure journey did not have to end for students once they left school.

You can read more about his journey in Overcoming barriers to reading engagement at Glenallen School.

OverDrive also offers Dyslexic font for eBooks and enlarged text, helping students to overcome challenges with decoding text, so they can focus less on the struggle to read, and more on finding the enjoyment that comes with reading.

A tool to engage reluctant readers

According to National Library of New Zealand a reluctant reader is simply a child that prefers not to read. They offer a number of reasons a student may disengage with reading, for example, they can’t find books they like, competing demands on their time (friends, sport, video games etc) or being told what to read instead of being empowered to choose their own books.

In their article Reluctant Readers, they offer several strategies to motivate reluctant readers including providing access to a wide range of resources in different formats and genres, knowing students’ interests, allowing students to have free reading choice, using technology, offering incentives, helping students to find the right book, and so on.

OverDrive’s Sora app has been designed to get kids excited about reading. Benefits of the app that can specifically address the reluctant reader challenge include:

  • Titles that are accessible across a wide range of devices enabling students to use technology that they are most familiar with, or prefer (iPad, phone etc)
  • Access to wide range of eBooks and audio books, that they can choose independently, and at a time that suits them
  • Personalised book recommendations
  • Badges and achievements to encourage further reading

A tool to help parents partner with reading engagement

Reading with dad

The National Library of New Zealand also suggests that providing reading role models are important when engaging reluctant readers. In fact, on the subject of parents they say:

“Encourage parents to read with children — parents or other significant adults who read and are seen to be readers are vital.”

Time constraints aside, parents face the same challenges that educators do to encourage reading for pleasure.

  • Limited range of books, (or perhaps just don’t want to read Peppa Pig’s day at the park… again!)
  • Learning or physical barriers to reading
  • Children that are reluctant to read

With anytime, anywhere access, OverDrive can support parents as they partner with schools on the reading for pleasure journey, in the same way schools are supported.

You can find more information about OverDrive on our product page.

If you would like to speak to an Educational Consultant about how OverDrive can help your school, email communications@sofltinkint.com.

Further Reading