Module 1: Reflections – The Shatzkin Files

After reading the blog by Shatzkin, it highlights the complexities facing school libraries and their collections. The technological advances in recent years and the speed at which they are happening poses a considerable challenge on school libraries and how they will keep ahead of these changes and embrace them. This is so that, libraries remain a relevant place for school communities and the central hub for acquiring information and learning within a school context.

The first trend that Shatzkin talks about regarding the continuing slow down of sales from print to e-books is interesting. It suggests that the very rapid uptake of e-books and e-readers from 2007 onwards is probably not going to continue at this rapid pace. Publishers are in the business of making money, so they are going to continue to produce both print and digital books as long as there is a demand. This suggests to me that print books will not be disappearing off the shelves of school libraries completely for some time to come. Publishers are still predominately about putting print books on shelves. This gives school libraries the benefit of time to adjust to the changes that are occurring and take steps towards making the libraries more technologically equipped to make the shift towards offering students both options of print books and e-books. Also, it gives schools the time to train TL’s to be skilled in how to use and assist others with this new technology.

The second trend that Shatzkin talks about ties in with the previous one in that certain types of books i.e. reference books, illustrated books and children’s picture books, currently do not transition as well to the digital format and therefore the print option remains the more popular option. At this stage print is also the cheaper one to produce. Therefore, once again it suggests that these types of print books will remain on school library shelves for some time to come. The benefit of time enables school libraries to become prepared for any technological changes that will (it seems inevitable) occur and equipped to offer both options.

The merging and consolidation among publishers becoming more common (as suggested by Shatzkin) may affect school libraries in a positive financial way. These mergers will benefit the publishers financially and therefore enable them to offer better deals to schools when purchasing books for the library (print and digital).

In the fourth trend, Shatzkin discusses the powerful influence of platforms (electronic reading devices), such as Kindle, and how they will influence publishers greatly in the area of children’s book. Therefore, technology will have a much greater influence on how children will be doing their reading. These platforms are pushing for children to use their devices to read for pleasure and seek information. This in turn influences publishers to offer more of children’s books as e-books. This is a financial motivation for publishers. How does this affect school libraries and their collections? It suggests that the way of the future will be increasingly moving towards more e-books, therefore children needing access to electronic reading devices. This will eventually affect how libraries are set up, what kinds of technological devices will be required in school libraries for children to access e-books. This will affect school libraries logistically and also financially. All these changes will need to implemented and paid for. So, schools libraries will be faced with these pressures and challenges in the future and need to move in the direction of the technological advances, to keep them relevant to the school community. It is an exciting time ahead for school libraries.

Marie-Lee Walker

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