Tag Archives: New Media

The End is not Nigh


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Why do we have to be seen to be choosing between hardcopy or digital texts?

I have heard many comments both for and against.

The positives I often hear are that e-readers are light and easy to use, can store many books on the device, can be accessed on many other devices such as tablets and a lot of schools and public libraries have e-books that can be borrowed.

The negatives are along the lines of you can’t cuddle up with an e-reader, what do you do if you run out of charge and I just don’t like reading on screen.

I have noticed in the school I work in that there really is a split between positive and negative e-book readers. This split isn’t at an adult level, rather it’s the students, especially for leisure reading. For the students there seems to be an anecdotal feeling that they just feel more secure with a hardcopy book.

A few years back there was a doom and gloom prediction that the dawn of the digital book was going to put a nail in the coffin of                  hardcopy published books. This was a knee jerk reaction to the             unknown. Recently a major bookshop chain in the United Kingdom       announced that it would stop selling e-readers in their stores. This     decision is a direct result of the range of devices that can be used to read e-books. To me this is a good sign as it means that the devices we do have, such as tablets, are incorporating technology that not so long ago needed their own dedicated device, making devices truly              multifunctional. This functionality needs to be harnessed by                     publishers, authors, educators and the wider community.

When I attended a few different conferences a couple of years ago, publishers and authors would talk about the current concerns and the legalities that were causing blockages to the rise of the digital book, but there was an acknowledgement of the potential of digital books. These concerns are now being studied and recently Macquarie             University released a briefing report in which authors identified that traditional publishing was still the most common, followed by digital publishing. Some authors are embracing the digital and are playing with the potential affordances for their readers such as Shaun Tan’s app for the book Rules of Summer. It was with some naïve amazement, to me, that this year’s Children’s Book Council of Australia included a digital book, Audacity by Carlie Walker, on the shortlist. What a positive step this is for the validation of the form, to have the major                  publicly  acknowledged children’s book organisation in Australia take the brave step to include a non-traditional format in the awards process.

Those of us in school libraries need to take note and modify our        practices to adjust to this digital potential of books. I have been            purchasing for the school library, for the past few years a range of       fiction and non-fiction books plus online subscription services. I have to admit that it has not been totally successful for fiction reading, but students, especially senior students like that they have access to           library books and resources on a 24/7 basis. My mission is to continue to support and promote digital books with my whole school                 community and to take note of the research that is beginning to appear that will aid a positive transition to an increased use of this part of the school library collection. One example is the research from New            Zealand that showed that when youth select books traditionally they browse the bookshop or the library for a book that draws                      their attention, not too different to my own adult selection behaviour (Cunningham, 2011). I need to take this information and adapt my          promotion to make it more visually stimulating and hopefully this will lead to the students, who many would refer to as digital natives, to take the next step and try reading a digital book for pleasure.


Cunningham, S. J. (2011). How children find books for leisure reading: Implications for the digital library. JCDL ’11 Proceedings of the 11th annual international ACM/IEEE joint conference on Digital libraries (pp. 431-432). New York: ACM. doi:10.1145/1998076.1998170

My Name is Claire and I Was a Wikipedia Hater…

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My name is Claire and I was a long term Wikipedia hater but then I realised I needed to change. Wikipedia has been in
existence since 2001 and is still going strong in 2015. I used to say things like:
“You can’t trust Wikipedia
because anyone can go in and change it”

“It’s leading to a lot of cut and paste from Wikipedia to other websites or vice versa.”

“Even comedians use the wrong information in their Wikipedia entries as material for their shows.”

Last year was when I started to change my mind. It was another unit in my master’s course that got me thinking. My first reaction was to still be a hater, but then a more reasoned approach took hold.
I started to think should I just embrace it whole heartedly or look at it with a view of what use can it really be to the “digital natives” within the school I work in? Let’s admit that we know that many of the
students we see each day will look at Wikipedia. Rather than telling students not to rely on Wikipedia isn’t my role as the school librarian to show them how it can be used?

With this is mind I went on a quest to find out more about Wikipedia and I have to admit I was surprised at the amount of work that Wikipedia is putting into making their sources and information more credible. This includes a guide to evaluating articles and an article
explaining how articles are graded. I now include these on my school
library webpage along with a short explanation of how Wikipedia can be used as a good basic digital exploration tool, just like a print
encyclopaedia and how the sources Wikipedia articles cite can be used to cross check the information or as a further resource in their own right. There are also a number of independent resources that are
exploring and evaluating Wikipedia including Wikipedia by
Dan O’Sullivan.

In this book a whole chapter is dedicated to assessing a Wikipedia
article and devises a rating system using a 0 – 5 scale for ten
assessment areas:
1. Length and Structure
2. Images
4. Grammar and Style
5. Generalisation and Neutrality
6. Discrepancies, Repetition and Gaps
7. Links and Internet References
8. References to Print Sources
9. Stability
10. Overall

If both the Wikipedia resources and an independent evaluation tool are introduced to students and used by them to evaluate a Wikipedia       article isn’t this a better outcome? We have provided students with new skills to help them in their use of Wikipedia that can be adapted to their use of other new media tools.

I admit that I now hang my head in shame that it took me so long to stop judging and start evaluating. Now my next challenge is to not only provide opportunities for students to improve their evaluation of Wikipedia but to also see if I can impart this change of view to the
colleagues in my school and to start a constructive professional              conversation around the use of Wikipedia.