“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”

I love to read.

I love to hold a book, turn pages.

I love to sit in the sun or hide in bed with a book and a cup of tea.

For many those of us that are bibliofiles it’s easy to cling to pages and negate digital and audio books.

So the question …

Are published books being overtaken by digital publishing?

‘Words-to-be-read’ are losing ground to ‘words-to-be-heard’ in this new      stage of digital content evolution? 

Shatzkin, M. (2018) Words-to-be-read are losing ground to words-to-be-heard.  The Shatzkin Files. Retrieved from https://www.idealog.com/blog/words-to-be-read-are-losing-ground-to-words-to-be-heard-a-new-stage-of-digital-content-evolution/

But it doesn’t have to be an us and them argument.

Living proof….

As a working mum I am time poor. When I pick up a book to read, on the very rare occasions that I find the quiet and the space, I usually fall asleep. Parenting fatigue is real people, enjoy your sleep before you have children!

I do have a fair bit of driving time though … and it is here that I can indulge the art of listening. Stories told to me as I drive to work, that make me laugh and cry in my metal bubble.

I recently listened to ‘Any Ordinary Day’ by Leigh Sales via Audible. I looked forward to getting in the car and hearing Leigh Sales tell her story every morning and evening that I persevered peak hour. The experience of the ‘book’ was heightened by having the author speak to me directly, her emotion and memory shared with me.

The art of storytelling and sharing knowledge began before books. Humans have shared stories and information before language. Books are part of the evolutionary chain of storytelling and sharing of knowledge. Once threatened by radio, then by film, now by digital technology and audiobooks.

‘Audiobook sales have doubled in the last five years while print and e-book          sales are flat. These trends might lead us to fear that audiobooks will do to         reading what keyboarding has done to handwriting — rendered it a skill                 that seems quaint and whose value is open to debate. But examining how           we read and how we listen shows that each is best suited to different                     purposes, and neither is superior.’ 

‘But even with those changes, audiobooks won’t replace print because we          use them differently. Eighty-one percent of audiobook listeners say they              like to drive, work out or otherwise multitask while they listen. The human            mind is not designed for doing two things simultaneously, so if we                            multitask, we’ll get gist, not subtleties.

Still, that’s no reason for print devotees to sniff. I can’t hold a book while I            mop or commute. Print may be best for lingering over words or ideas, but           audiobooks add literacy to moments where there would otherwise be                   none.’

Willingham, Daniel T. (2018)  Is Listening to a Book the Same Thing as Reading It? The New York Times Opinion. Retrieved from  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/08/opinion/sunday/audiobooks-reading-cheating-listening.html

But wait, what’s that I see around the corner?

Virtual and augmented reality?

Come at me!

Because I can love a good book and enjoy all the amazing digital technologies before me. Can you?

 

Would you like an adventure now, or should we have our tea first?

A screen, a question, a reflection.

Why am I undertaking a Masters in Teacher Librarianship? A question I’ve heard a few times over the last few weeks. Truth be told I’m not really sure, I can’t put my finger on it. What I do know, is that when I follow my instincts they always lead me somewhere worthwhile. So here I am falling down a rabbit hole with no idea of where it will lead or what’s in store.

Me … a teacher, a mum, an arts advocate, a book lover, a food and wine lover, a lover, a sister – hopeful, sarcastic, impatient, impulsive, creative, organised and messy. Some of these describe me well … but I am sure other words could also, it depends on who you ask. Like all things. The answers are different depending on who you ask. I digress, or do I?

The role of the teacher librarian …

I went to school before the world wide web, computers and information technology were available. The library was the place you went to get info for your homework, assignment and projects. Where you whispered about boys behind shelves full of books and sneakily passed notes while a librarian helped you to find books, scour indexes and occasionally give disapproving looks while you giggled with your friends.

As a teacher I have seen libraries shift as the world becomes more and more focused on technology. I have seen the amount of information young people receive increase markedly through the internet, and the ever present smartphone. I’ve seen those beloved books gather dust and rarely get borrowed. I’ve seen students come to the library to escape the rain, to gossip and whisper about boys, to play games on the computers, to chat loudly and defy the librarians rules of no food and a quiet learning space. I’ve been grateful to the librarians for helping me find resources for my classes and frustrated that they don’t have time / energy / resources to help my students more. I’ve run my hands over the books, I’ve watched the library grow dvd resources, I’ve saved the books no longer wanted and added them to my shelves in my office. I’ve seen students who have more access to information struggle to find it and collate it.

And so, it’s clear the teacher librarian role has changed … but I think it’s cornerstone remains the same. The teacher librarian is still there to help students and teachers find resources, to help them shuffle through the information presented to find what it is they need. Yes, they now need to be more up to date with the complexities of information technology, and faced with an overload of information and sorting the fact from fiction,  in doing so their role becomes more important than it has been in the past.

The skills of being able to find and filter information is one that most of our young people and time poor teachers struggle with. In an age of information overload our young people need the skills to filtrate and sort through the easily accessible wide world at their fingertips.

Teacher Librarians need to move with information technology and create inspiring learning spaces, that combine the best of the digital and the bound. They need to support and inspire. They need to create spaces for research, learning, and to whisper about boys. Spaces that capture our minds and hearts. They need to be the guardians and interpreters of knowledge  …. or maybe that’s a Marvel film?

We can never replace the appeal of a good book, the feel, the smell.

The need for books of art, scripts, graphic novels, historical nostalgia will never fade.

But let’s be real, the digital world is exciting and addictive. There is movement and sound. The modern Teacher Librarian needs to embrace this and share it, creating vibrant spaces that have quiet corners and exciting middles.

Research wizards, literary warriors, smart leaders with a good ear for gossip and a smile for the bookworms.

Hmmmm, so what was the question?

Oh wait I have to get my kids to bed … perhaps we’ll revisit this again soon.