Literature in digital environments: Changes and emerging trends in Australian school libraries

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    Literature in digital environments

    Judy OConnellKey Advisor

    Future Pedagogies Project

    7 May 2015

    Changes and emerging trends in Australian school libraries

    International Association of School LibrarianshipMaastricht, The Netherlands, July 2015

  • The goal of a school library is to respond to the learning ecology in the school. This learning ecology is defined as a set of contexts comprised of a unique configuration of activities, material resources, technology fluencies, and the interactions that emerge from them.

  • When it comes to ebooks, school library collection development presents some unique challenges.

  • ebooks and ereaders are one of the top 10game changers of the past 25 years

    shaping school libraries

  • Electronic texts can be found in increasing numbers of school libraries and classrooms where they are not only enhancing teaching and learning; they are also profoundly changing the signature pedagogy of reading literacy instruction.

  • The Australian Curriculum: English aims to ensure that students listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose.

  • To address this national expectation it is imperative that ebooks are incorporated into school reading and literature programs, as well as being available for students personal reading choices. How well school libraries are addressing this challenge is influenced by a number of factors.

  • Unpacking the definition of ebooks to explore multimodal texts is useful when considering the

    take-up of ebooks in schools and their place within the digital reading environment.

    creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by kassemmounhem:

  • What are ebooks?

    ebooks are electronic version of print books can be read or listened to on an eReader, tablet

    or computer may have tools for bookmarking and note-

    taking offer embedded multimedia elements, and

    interactive features such as oral reading may included related games, support websites

    or provide test reading experiences may provide multimodal, multimedia non-linear

    stories that involve active participation

  • ebooks in learning

    creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by Atos International:

    Each type of ebook has a place along the learning continuum

    Embracing ebooks requires a shift in understanding how children interpret digital media and navigate in a digital environment

    Address pedagogical goals, and identify what the digital experience can offer that print does not.

  • The survey, 50:50 by 2020 Ebook Trends in Australian

    Schools, generated 456 responses

  • etextbooks

  • enhanced ebooks or apps

  • ebooks in a schools collection

  • Issues in collection development

  • Being aware of the range of existing and emerging issues is an important part of

    collection development, and survey responses reveal disparate levels of awareness amongst

    school library staff

  • 61% of schools indicated that they had insufficient technology to support one-to-one access for personal reading, and 58% cited a limited budget for ebook infrastructure.

    Cost and technology

  • However, according to the respondents in the 50:50 by 2020 Survey there remain significant issues related to ICT infrastructure and access in a number of Australian schools.

    Cost and technology

  • budgeting for ebooks

  • selection

    Collection development and making choices between providers is another challenge for school library staff faced with selection of eresources.

  • adoption and use of ebooks

    Survey respondents indicated:

    a strong relationship between access to an ereading device and use of eresources.

    the importance of getting teachers on

    board, with an ongoing need for

    professional learning for staff coming to

    terms with digital content.

  • The promotion of eresources is a constant


  • As a foundational element of schooling, learning to read and reading to learn will remain as important in 2020 as

    it has ever been!

  • Developing ecollections for 2020 school libraries requires skills and expertise beyond the traditional bibliographic paradigm, encompassing digital licensing and contract negotiation, budgets, formats, device storage and management, as well as an up-to-date understanding of the publishing industry.

  • The issues that schools face fall into three main categories:

    i) the ebook genre and purpose; ii) the infrastructure required to make ebooks

    accessible, and, iii) the technology required to read the texts.

  • Complexities around the range of ebook formats are amplified when one factors in reading purposes, ranging from teaching literacy skills, supporting curriculum programs (factual and class literature) and personal reading.

  • Repositories and retrieval issues are complex and one solution rarely meets the varied needs, formats and legal requirements of schools. Options include subscription services to third party providers providing internet pathways to free ebooks or downloading free or purchased ebooks in a readable format for storage on the schools network.

  • Subscription services may not easily integrate with the library catalogue, and downloaded resources require cataloguing to support access with consideration of digital rights protocols or multi-user licences as management issues.

  • Management of enhanced ebook apps is restrained by provider protocols and often requires individual management on each device.

  • The library needs to facilitate home access and establish methods to promote ebooks in new and exciting ways.

    Where devices such as tablets are integrated into schools teaching and learning practices, ebook reading is becoming part of the fabric of schooling.

  • While there is evidence that collections are changing in response to the need to support ereading within teaching and learning, there is an indication that many school library collections may not be adequately meeting the expectations articulated in the Australian Curriculum.

  • The challenge for school libraries is to move beyond the practicalities of ebook collection

    management to the promotion of services that address the needs of pedagogy and


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    Judy OConnell

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