The debate between print vs digital has been raging for quite some time. One town in Wales has placed a ban on kindles, saying they are turning readers into robots. This extreme stance is not conducive to a solution in the print vs digital debate. There needs to be a happy medium, as both formats have their place in a 21st century society.
I work in a small country school, with a limited range of print books and physical resources available on hand. Digital learning is essential in our school, to give students and teachers access to a broad range of texts and information sources. The school is part of an inter-library loan network, however, students prefer the immediacy of being able to access items or risk losing interest if they need to wait a day or so for a resource.
Speaking to students, particularly the high school students, they found their preference was to learn using the internet and e-books to research. When asked, however, which method of research was most effective, they said using print books as they were easily distracted by social networking sites such as Facebook or Tumblr, especially when at home. They ‘got more done’ when studying in the library or classroom with a textbook, than when researching using the computer.
Some texts that have been converted to digital formats will benefit users, such as instructional or information texts, as these can easily be accessed on the internet (Hoffelder, 2013). However, some text types should remain in print format. Picture books are essential in my classroom, to teach early reading skills, and because of a lack of technology. Students in my class are not yet proficient users of technology, therefore e-books and digital resources would make learning even more difficult for them, as they tried to get their heads around how to use the tech rather than getting their heads around the learning task required.
One of the Professional Standards for Teacher Librarians is to ensure libraries are equitable. While the library may have access to digital tools and devices, students may not have access to these at home. As teachers, we have been banging on forever about the importance of having texts in the home, and for children to be exposed to literacy at an early age. When these children don’t have access to print materials, they are at an unfair disadvantage.
The shift to digital libraries is inevitable; however I don’t believe any library should become 100% digital, or that digital formats should ever completely replace the good old print book.
Hoffelder, N (2013) Is the internet a greater threat to publishers than self-pub ebooks? Retrieved from http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2013/11/30/internet-greater-threat-publishers-self-pub-ebooks/#.U0CbJKiSwn1
Shatzkin, M (2013). The truth is we do not know whether ebooks will work for anything other than readerly books. Retrieved from http://www.idealog.com/blog/truth-do-not-yet-know-whether-ebooks-will-work-anything-except-readerly-books/