Tension in the Library
Think of an occasion when you have witnessed tension between what a teacher or student is looking for and what a library collection holds.
One of the English topics I studied at Flinders University was called ‘Fiction for Young Readers’. A wide range of children’s books were listed as essential reading. Titles included the artistic Window and Where the Forest Meets the Sea, by Jeannie Baker; the wonderfully illustrated John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat, by Jenny Wagner; the well-known classics, Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, and Possum Magic, by Mem Fox; and longer texts, such as Two Weeks with the Queen, by Morris Gleitzman, and Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo, by Tim Winton.
All of the books were available at the university bookshop. With only the meagre wages of a part-time Hungry Jacks employee in my wallet, I decided to purchase books on the list that I thought I might use in the classroom one day, or those with sentimental value. I loved Jeannie Baker’s books as a child and Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo remains one of my favourites to this day. Of course, I was able to borrow John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat from my mother, so I didn’t have to buy that one.
For those who couldn’t afford the books on the list, or for those who wanted to save money, the books were made available at the university library. It was here that I witnessed tension between what students were looking for and what the library collection held.
With so many students enrolled in the topic, it was almost impossible to borrow them, even with a two hour loan-limit placed on them. To borrow the longer texts, you had to arrive on campus really early, or leave quite late so that the chances of a text being unavailable were reduced. And even then, other students had the same idea.
This story highlights the benefit of a multiple user model, where any number of users can access a electronic text at any given time (Kimmel, 2014, p. 57). Had the books been available to every student, all the time, there would have been no tension at all. I think that by now, almost ten years later, the system would have improved.
Kimmel, S.C. (2014). Developing Collections to Empower Learners [American Library Association]. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/csuau/reader.action?docID=1687658