July 17

Farmer’s Formats

Reflect on Farmer’s ideas about print and digital reference material. Are there other materials you would consider appropriate in an Australian context? What factors may influence the decision on which format (physical or digital, or both) to choose?

When I started working in my primary school library at the start of this year, I noticed a set of encyclopedias on a low shelf behind the circulation desk. They were covered in dust and other staff claimed they had not been touched for a very long time. When people say ‘reference books’, this is immediately what I think of. When I blew the dust away, the books looked brand new. It made me wonder, had the books been used at all?

For this reason, this reading clashed with my own ideas. I can certainly see the value of holding other print reference resources, like atlases, dictionaries, or thesauri, in a library collection. But encyclopedias in print? No, I don’t know how I would justify any money spent on such an item. The information they provide becomes out of date almost as soon as they’re published, and they cannot be updated easily, like digital reference materials can. Print reference materials can take up a great deal of storage space, whereas digital resources do not. Indeed, the future of publishing is more about access than it is about ownership (Kimmel, 2014, p. 52).

We do have a wonderful set of paperback reference books about Australian landmarks. These, and other similar subject specific reference materials, I think, are appropriate in an Australian context. And fact books, like Ripley’s Believe it or Not, or Guinness Book of Records are also very popular in my library. I can’t really think of any others.


Kimmel, S. C. (2014). Developing collections to empower learners. American Association of School Librarians


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Posted July 17, 2020 by murphda75 in category ETL501 The Dynamic Information Environment

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