Our world is changing
There is no doubt that the world of books and literature is undergoing tremendous change in which communication is transitioning from print to digital and paper books are being replaced by eBooks. Those of us involved in industries such as publishing, book selling and libraries are negotiating both the challenges and opportunities that these new platforms deliver. Those of us in education are also coming to terms with the new literacies students will need for working and learning in digital environments.
Reading and books are changing
“Once upon a time, reading was as simple and straightforward as decoding words on a page. No more. Digital age technologies have made such an impact on the way we interact with content that the old definitions of reading and books no longer apply” (Lamb, 2011, p.13).
Physically, books are changing from pages enclosed within a hard or paper cover to screens on eReaders, smartphones and tablets. The content and structure of books is also changing. No longer are books restricted to a linear construct containing text and images from beginning to end. A modern reader might find themselves encountering hyperlinks, sound, motion and artefacts entering and exiting stories from multiple points in a branched narrative (Lamb, 2011, p.13). Resultant from this evolution in the format of the book are changes in the skills and strategies used to read and comprehend information (Felvegi & Matthew as cited in CSU, 2015, para.4).
In Reading redefined for a transmedia universe (2011), Lamb explores five electronic reading environments: eBooks, interactive storybooks, reference databases, hypertext and interactive fiction, and transmedia storytelling. Some of the features she highlights from these new reading environments include:
- note taking tools;
- virtual book marks;
- search tools;
- display controls to manipulate font, background, colour and orientation;
- read aloud functionality;
- photos, maps, audio and video elements; and
- multimodal, nonlinear participatory elements such as web-based clues, mobile apps, social media connections, activities and games (p.14-16).
School Libraries & the job of the Teacher Librarian is changing
In 2011, Amazon reported that eBook sales outstripped print for the first time (Rapaport, 2011, para.1). The fact is, we have to come to terms with the reality that the future of books and reading will be increasingly digital. Upon examination of the Australian Library and Information Association (ASLA) Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians (2014), a number of arguments for the provision of digital literacies in school libraries can be highlighted. Such provision necessitates a Teacher Librarian’s skill repertoire include the ability to:
- provide access to digital resources and eBooks in school library collections as these will be crucial to the achievement of the school community (standard 1.4);
- evaluate the quality of an eBook or digital information for the library collection which involves the ability to judge whether the media elements and technology tools are integral to the reading experience (Lamb, 2011, p.17) thus enhancing learning (standard 2.4);
- understand how new forms of reading necessitate changes in reading literacy pedagogy (Felvegi & Matthew, 2012, p.41) so that students develop the skills needed to navigate and comprehend the variety of modes and media incorporated into these reading experience (standard 1.2 & 1.3);
- engage in emerging reading formats in order to encourage learners to read for enjoyment and empower understanding (standards 2.1 & 3.2)
Australian School Library Association. (2004, December). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved July 25, 2015, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
Charles Sturt University (CSU). (2015). Emerging literary experiences, INF533: Literature in digital environments. Retrieved July, 2015.
Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and leading with technology, 39(3), 12-17. Retrieved July 25, 2015, from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=67371172&site=ehost-live
Rapaport, L. (2011, May 20). Amazon.com Says Kindle E-Book Sales Surpass Printed Books for First Time. Bloomberg. Retrieved July 25, 2015, from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-19/amazon-com-says-kindle-electronic-book-sales-surpass-printed-format.html
Rocket eBook. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.