Integrating digital content (it’s more than just adding eBooks!)

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Open 24/7 flikr photo by Tom Magliery shared under a Creative Commons (NC-SA) License

This weekend I’ve started reworking a presentation I gave on eBooks at the 2015 SLANZA conference. In a few weeks I’ll be presenting a similar but more informal workshop to a group of school librarians about integrating digital content into our collections. I believe that school librarians should worry less about the ‘print vs digital’ debate and explore how our role can become more relevant, by smashing the stereotype that the Librarian is ‘the keeper of the place where the books are stored’.

As well as sharing the nuts and bolts of how to add eBooks to predominantly print collections, (and most attendees will be thinking about adding eBook fiction to supplement, duplicate or replace print books) I’m hoping to encourage them to “think bigger” and to consider the many benefits of reinvigorating all physical collections (not just fiction) by integrating a wide variety of digital resources, embracing BYOD, working collaboratively with teachers and putting the student at the centre of everything we do – adding new relevancy to the role of the Librarian and Library within a school.

Source: WOBI – World of Business Ideas

Our library seems to always be in a state of change and continuous improvement. That’s a good thing!

No library collection is ever finished or complete, and no school library can ever hope to own every resource their teachers and students might possibly need. Physical space and budgetary limitations are the motivators for extending our physical collections via the selective integration and application of digital media that can propel access to the resources beyond the four walls and opening hours of the library. We need to be flexible and responsive by being able to confidently offer ‘Just-in-time’ resourcing and by adding in appropriate, quality, relevant digital content whenever it’s required, rather than trying to have print materials that cover every learning and subject area ‘Just-in-case’.

Technology plays an enormous part in the success of digital integration into library collections and not a day passes where I’m not enormously thankful to be working in a school that offers a BYOD programme that allows even our very young students to work on iPads. However, great things can still be achieved by Librarians in schools without 1:1 device use or BYOD. I hope the attendees at the workshop in April will be able to find ways to integrate the power of digital information sources by the clever use of the devices they and their students do have, and by collaborating smartly with external agencies to obtain access to content they might not be able to afford alone.

It’s been four years since we introduced OverDrive ebook fiction and three years since we added in MackinVia multi-user ebooks for inquiry. I’m still excited by how these tools have transformed our practice. I’m more excited thinking about what the future holds for librarians who like to look for new ways to meet the needs of the learner wherever they are, and whenever they need to learn.

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