Including Digital Resources in Your Library
- Digital resources
- Distance learning
- Library management
- Collection development
In today’s digital world many readers of all ages still prefer a print book. They are easier to pass around your friends, share with children as a bedtime story, and to flick through to find the information you’re seeking.
For so many people, you just can’t beat the look, feel and even smell of a printed book. Yet ebooks also have many benefits. It’s easy to annotate, highlight and bookmark digital resources, interact with multimedia content, make use of assistive technologies, and link easily to other digital resources. Ebooks and audio books are also great for readers who might not want their friends to see what they are reading, and for reading under the bedcovers at night without needing a flashlight!
Since ebooks were first developed, there has been a significant amount of research into the differences between reading in print and reading on a screen and how it can affect learning. Studies have found that online readers tend to skim, look for keywords and are more easily distracted, whereas print readers tend to read more slowly and deeply, concentrating and thinking critically about what they are reading. For most students, reading in print results in better comprehension and improved long-term retention of knowledge (Baron, 2021). However more recent studies have found that as the design of ebooks and other e-resources has evolved, young children develop literacy skills just as well (or even better) when reading ebooks than they do when using print books (López-Escribano, Montesino and García-Ortega, 2021).
Print and digital resources therefore complement each other, providing different yet equally important benefits for your students and their learning. They work in tandem, rather than one replacing the other.
So should your library collection include ebooks and other digital resources?
To help you decide, here are some points to consider:
How do digital resources fit within your current Collection Development Policy? Standard selection criteria can be applied to all types of formats, so digital resources to support the curriculum, literacy and reading for pleasure should all fall within your current policy. For topics where up to date information is important, access to digital material is beneficial.
Digital resources allow your library to cater for a much wider range of learning styles and preferences, and for auditory and kinaesthetic learners in particular. They can engage your reluctant readers with interactive features and allow those with reading disabilities to personalise screen and font settings as required. Audio books and other narration options enable students to listen to books that might be too difficult for them to read, so that they can enjoy the same stories as their peers.
When schools are relying on distance education and learning from home, digital resources are easier for students to access than the physical books sitting in the school library or classroom. Accessit Library integrates with ebook and audio book suppliers, allowing your library users to click through directly from your Web App to read or listen, while avoiding the need for multiple logons to extra platforms. Learning from home has also seen an increase in the number of students who have access to devices and are now able to use digital resources.
Consider a short trial of some digital resources, to give an indication of buy-in and demand. Promotion of your digital resources is important, so that your readers and learners know exactly where and how to access them. Most ebook and audio book suppliers will provide promotional material such as posters and bookmarks for schools to use.
How will your digital resources be managed? Accessit Library makes this easy by synchronising with other providers so that your ebooks, audio books and other digital content sits side-by-side with your print resources in your library catalogue.
Purchasing digital resources can avoid the current supply chain issues that are affecting print resources during the pandemic, allowing you to provide books for your readers promptly.
In an increasingly digital world, it’s important that our young people learn to use a variety of information sources. Because so many people continue to value printed books they will always have a place on our library shelves, but we now also have virtual shelves that can be filled with digital resources to provide a balanced collection that meets the specific needs of our library users.
Having a fully integrated library system, where physical and digital resources are catalogued and discoverable from the same platform, is paramount. As soon as you add extra layers to the searching process, the discovery experience plummets quickly. Students will either search for physical resources or for digital resources, but they will rarely do both if it means they have to conduct two separate searches. A fully integrated library system that automatically searches across all platforms at once means that your library users benefit from easy access to both your print and your digital resources, and ensures that your entire library collection is well used.
Allcott, L. (2021). Reading on-screen vs reading in print: What’s the difference for learning? | Blog | National Library of New Zealand. [online] natlib.govt.nz. Available at: https://natlib.govt.nz/blog/posts/reading-on-screen-vs-reading-in-print-whats-the-difference-for-learning [Accessed 17 Dec. 2021].
Baron, N.S. (2021). What Works Better for Retention — Printed or Digital Texts? [online] GovTech. Available at: https://www.govtech.com/education/higher-ed/what-works-better-for-retention-printed-or-digital-texts [Accessed 16 Dec. 2021].
López-Escribano, C., Montesino, S. and García-Ortega, V. (2021). The Impact of E-Book Reading on Young Children’s Emergent Literacy Skills: an Analytical Review. Article in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 18(6510). Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/352484278_The_Impact_of_E-Book_Reading_on_Young_Children’s_Emergent_Literacy_Skills_An_Analytical_Review [Accessed 16 Dec. 2021].