the future of libraries in the digital age
I have been a teacher-librarian in a private K-12 school since 2005 and have been so passionate about books and libraries ever since.
With new changes in technology and direct access of information in this communicative age, our school libraries have undergone a transformation from being a book haven to a learning hub.
With more computers being installed in the secondary library, our students can access information from our subscribed online databases and the internet for their research.
However, this is not yet fully integrated in the Elementary and Middle school libraries.
The students still use the library to borrow reading books. Most of the research is done at home and guided by the classroom teachers.
Collaboration is not fully integrated in these divisions. The librarian's job is sometimes only limited to providing list of resources for students. Given the limited budget we have, this may seem quite acceptable for a short term.
As a result, the Elementary librarians decided to find other means to make the place more inviting and have more enthusiastic readers. To promote the love of reading at school, they have launched a reading project where the Elementary students borrow books from the library to participate in a 15 minutes of reading everyday in order to reach 1000 minutes by the end of December.
This may seem exciting and appealing, but the main question that seems to trouble me is not just the collaboration part, but the lack of interest on the part of some principals.
As students are taking part in this reading project, the librarians find the need to enrich the library with new collection of fiction and nonfiction books. They also requested to replace the old iron shelves with new appealing ones so that the learning space looks more inviting to the students.
Unfortunately and to my sad knowledge, the principals have no interest in investing on shelves or nonfiction books. They believe that students need to use the computers more for their research work and that in the future most, if not all students, will no longer use the print books. They will be reading on their tablets or e-reader devices. So why bother purchasing documentary books or even more fiction books and even have new shelves? According to them, we need to have more computers.
Is it sad to hear this from principals who should be encouraging reading. I am not all against the use of technology. I have a Nook and I use my Ipad often. But I believe, and I am deeply convinced, we need to keep all types of media in the library. As a librarian, we need to provide all types of media in the library, print and digital.
Despite explaining this to the principals, they still insist we reduce the collection of print books particularly nonfiction ones.
This is quite alarming and distressing.
To remove the print books at the expense of digital is to remove part of our history and heritage!
How can we then sustain reading with print books in a school library?
Is reading only limited to digital media?