Digital Collections – Are the parameters different?


geralt / Pixabay

Contemporary libraries for the contemporary student

MCEETYA (2008) envisaged the modern student as an engaged learner, literate across modalities and able to critically evaluate the present pervasive overload of information.  This contemporary student needs a library that enables these abilities and meets their cognitive, behavioural and developmental needs, so that they can gain an active citizenship in a digital world.  Since the primary focus of any school library is to meet the needs of curriculum and the students, a school library Collection Development and Management Policy (CDMP) needs to address these 21st century mandates (ASLA & VCTL, 2018; MCEETYA, 2008; Mitchell, 2011; Learning for the Future, 2001; Nat Lib of NZ, n.d.b).  

The robustness of a school library collection is dependent on its CDMP, and consists of physical and electronic resources accessible by the library management system or LMS (Mitchell, 2011, p.10).  Physical resources include books, maps, atlases, CDs, DVDs, and the various technologies required to gain access to them (ASLA & VCTL, 2018, p.10).  Electronic resources include digital literature, ebooks, audiobooks, online encyclopaedias and useful websites as well as devices such as e-readers, laptops and tablets (ASLA & VCTL, 2018, p.10).  To be considered as part of the collection and included within the LMS, resources need to be curated against a set of selection criteria to ensure that they meet curriculum outcomes (ASLA & VCTL, 2018; Mitchell, 2011, p.10; Johnson, 2018).  Unfortunately the vibrant nature of school libraries is diminishing as people often view the Internet and electronic resources as a viable alternative to physical and print resources (Wood, 2017; Kachel, 2016).  But not all electronic or digital resources are automatically superior to print and physical.  Instead physical and electronic texts should be considered equally important within a reading paradigm and a school library context (Mitchell, 2011; Mantei, Lipscombe & Kervin, 2018). 

The Library Collection Development and Management Policy or CDMP, requires all resources be assessed and evaluated for function, accuracy and reliability, and this includes both physical and electronic resources.  The physical component of a library is fairly straightforward to collect, curate and catalogue, as these resources are owned by the school and can be stored in a specific location for student access.  Whereas, most electronic resources have access permitted through leases or subscriptions held by libraries.  These subscriptions often describe the licencing for a number of users and terms are often dictated by the publisher.  It must be noted that some digital resources can be owned, like purchased electronic books, but leases or subscriptions are more common within libraries. 

Electronic resources also vary in their format, require different devices for access, and can suddenly ‘disappear’, which can place additional costs on libraries and users.   Some digital resources such as websites and webpages often require close scrutiny to ensure authority. The considerations a teacher librarian has to make to determine suitability for digital and electronic resources are more exacting than for physical and print sources (Johnson, 2018). These considerations, or selection criteria are used to differentiate an electronic source’s credibility, reliability accuracy, authority and importantly, price. It’s the CRAAP test for librarians. 

Hughes- Hassell & Mancall (2005) advocates the use of a flow chart to determine suitability, whereas El Mhouti (2013) suggests the use of a tree structure that assesses academic, pedagogical, didactic and technical qualities. Whilst I have considered both these options, I do prefer the main criteria and evaluative process by El Mhouti et al., (2013) as it is methodological, and it seems foolhardy to exclude resources should they not meet each and every requirement.  Instead, resources should satisfy all the main criteria and at least one of the subsections.  

The following selection criteria was created to assess and evaluate resources for a Catholic high school library. These criteria points, whilst not exhaustive aim to cover the essential aims and priorities (Hughes- Hassell & Mancall, 2005; National Library of NZ, n.d.a; ALA OIC, 2018). I have previously covered some of this information in this blog post!

Whilst the above selection criteria are deemed suitable for physical resources, it seems apparent that digital resources require additional considerations (Johnson, 2018, p.128).  These considerations will change depending on the school, its digital capability and the needs of its community.  

Valid considerations when evaluating digital resources are:

  1. The essential point of electronic resources and digital literature is to facilitate the learning process.  From a literacy perspective, the primary purpose of texts in a digital space is to improve a student’s ability to promote transaction with the text.  Engagement, comprehension and evaluation of digital texts require online AND offline reading skills.  Offline reading skills such as word recognition, subject specific content vocabulary and meaning making are all essential for online reading (Leu et al., 2015).  Whereas online reading requires the reader to locate information, critically evaluate the information present, synthesise multiple sources of information and be able to problem solve  (Leu et al., 2015).  Resources that DO NOT ENHANCE the learning process, DO NOT BELONG in a school library collection!
  2. The National Library of New Zealand (n.d.c) points out that libraries are responsible for the curation of digital resources and that they meet the same collection development standards as set in the CDMP.  Many teacher librarians use LibGuides as a method to curate digital content, as they are a great way of drawing attention to subject specific resources teaching and learning purposes (German, 2017).  Other tools used to curate content include Diigo, Pinterest, PearlTrees, Twitter and Feedly (Nat Lib. of NZ, n.b.c).
  3. Digital and electronic sources are often used to meet the needs for diverse learners.  Students with cognitive, behavioural and developmental learning needs do require resources in different formats and it is the duty of the CDMP to ensure that their policies meet those needs (Johnson 2018).  An example is providing access to audiobooks and databases with a “read aloud” function and checking the accessibility of websites to assist with equitable access for students with visual impairments and learning disabilities.  
  4.  Leu et al. (2015) argues that instead of teaching students the intricacies of software, it is more important to teach the skills, which can then be transferred across subjects and out of the school environment.  This means that online reading and learning needs to be the main focus of digital resources (see above point).
  5. A concern from many teacher librarians about digital literature is the issue of copyright (Sahoo & Goel, 2018).  The internet has made it very easy to infringe these rights.  Therefore any resources added to the school library collection need to be sourced ethically and the author clearly sited on the source.  
  6. Digital resources need to be supported by the school’s network and LMS, and if BYOD program exists, licensing that permits multiple users (IFLA 2015).  Many online libraries such as BorrowBox and Wheelers only permit one user at a time to access their collection.  Whilst this is appropriate and acceptable for public libraries, it does not work for texts used for teaching and learning.  In these cases multiple print copies would be more financially sound.  
  7. Emerging technologies such as AR and VR are starting to appear in libraries across the world.  Their prevalence is currently limited to academic libraries and public libraries but are starting to emanate in school environments.  Mitchell (2011) argues that resources that utilise ‘high touch’ and ‘high tech’ are desirable as they meet the behavioural needs of the students.  

(Johnson, 2018; Nat Lib NZ, n.d.c; Hughes-Hassal & Mancall, 2005;  El Mhouti, 2014; Yokota & Teale, 2014; Leu et al., 2015; Mantei et al., 2018; Walker et al., 2010; Mitchell, 2011)

The Australian curriculum requires the inclusion of digital and multimodal texts to support learners in their endeavour to become active citizens in a digital world.  The integration of digital resources has a dual purpose in school collections, as it fulfills the learning requirements dictated by ACARA, as well as the contemporary skills the modern student needs (MCEETYA, 2008).  Since the focus of a school library is to support and address the curriculum, the CDMP needs to ensure that its selection criteria promotes the curation of reputable and reliable resources in both print and electronic forms.  The truth of the matter is that technology is constantly transforming, and with this constant change, the nature of digital and electronic resources available for teaching and learning is adapting at the same pace.  This rapid change means CDMP policies are often unable to keep up with technology advances, which means it’s up to the TL to use their discretion when considering the inclusion of digital resources into the school library collection.  


 ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (2018) Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit for Public, School, & Academic Libraries. American Library Association. Retrieved from

El Mhouti, A., Nasseh, A., & Erradi, M. (2013). How to evaluate the quality of digital learning resources? International Journal of Computer Science Research and Application. Retrieved from

German, E. (2017). LibGuides for instruction – A service design point of view from an academic library. Reference and User Services Quarterly 56(3). Retrieved from

Hughes-Hassell, S., & Mancall, J. C. (2005). Collection management for youth : Responding to the needs of learners. Retrieved from

IFLA (2015 ) IFLA School library guidelines. 2nd Edition. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Retrieved from 

Kachel, D. (2015). The calamity of the disappearing school libraries. The Conversation. Retrieved from

Jong, M. (2019). Sustaining the adoption of gamified outdoor social enquiry learning in high schools through addressing teachers’ emerging concerns: A 3-year study. British Journal of Educational Technology 50(3). Pp1275-1293. DOI: 10.1111/bjet.12767

Learning for the future: developing information services in Australian schools 2nd edition (2001). Curriculum Corporation, Carlton South. Retrieved from http://

Leu, D.J, Forzani, E.,Timbrell, N., & Maykel., C. (2015) . Seeing the forest, not the trees: Essential technologies for literacy in primary grade and upper elementarty grade classroom. Reading Teacher 69: (2), p.139-145. Retrieved from

Mantei, J., Kipscombe, K., & Kervin, L. (2018). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).

MCEETYA (2008) Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Curriculum Corporation. Australia. Retrieved from

National Library of New Zealand. (n.d.a). Selecting and purchasing resources. Service to Schools. Retrieved from

National Library of New Zealand (n.d.b) Working out your library’s collection requirementsService to Schools. Retrieved from

National Library of New Zealand, (n.d.c). Your library’s digital collection. Service to Schools. Retrieved from

Sahoo, B., Kumar, A. & Goel, S. (2018). Digital resources management: The role of the National Digital Library.  International Journal of Information Dissemination and Technology, 8(3), 143-146.

Walker, S., Jameson, J., & Ryan, M. (2010). Chapter 15 –  Skills and strategies for e-Learning in a participatory culture. In Sharpe, R., Beetham, H., & de Freitas, S. (2010). Rethinking Learning for a Digital Age. Retrieved from CSU library. 

Wood, P. (2017). School libraries disappearing as the digital age takes over. ABC News Breakfast. Retrieved from

Yokota, J., & Teale, W. (2014). Picture books and the digital world. The Reading Teacher 67(8), pp.577-585.    DOI:  10.1002/trtr.1262  



Teens, trends and technology.


congerdesign / Pixabay


There is no comprehensive data on the recreational reading preferences of Australian children and teenagers across print or digital formats, but a study conducted by Deakin University and Murdoch University point out that teens have a clear preference for print in comparison to reading on devices (Cull, 2011; Dickenson, 2014; Earp, 2017).    This is surprising considering over 90% of Australian children and teenagers have access to a computer or laptop, but more than 75% never used them to access digital literature (Earp, 2017).   This information seems contradictory when you consider that recent fieldwork into public libraries showed a significant shift from traditional to more digital and computer based resources to compensate for the shift in the reading paradigm  (Wyatt, McQuire & Butt, 2015, p. 6-8).   This is because libraries are anticipating the long term presence of digital literature, and are motivated to curate their collection to hold a range of physical and digital resources, as well as a repository of technology for their clientele’s personal, social or educational use (Cull, 2011; Wyatt, McQuire & Butt, 2015, p. 8).   

O’Connell, Bales & Mitchell (2015) point out that the advent of e-books and e-readers have been the biggest game changers for school libraries in the past few decades.  E-books, especially e-textbooks have become increasingly popular in schools across the country as they are able to integrate multimodal features such as interactive maps, videos and images and enhance teaching and learning practices (O’Connell, Bales & Mitchell, 2015).  E-books also meet ACARA’s mandate to include a variety of print, digital and hybrid resources as part of the ICT and Literacy components of the General Capabilities (ACARA, 2018). 

Whilst e-books address curriculum requirements and educational needs of the modern student, O’Connell, Bales & Mitchell (2015) do acquiesce that including digital literature may be cost prohibitive to many schools and students.  Many students, especially those in lower socio-economic areas lack the financial ability to purchase a personal device to access e-books, and many schools cannot afford to purchase additional e-readers or other personal devices for all their students.  The other pertinent issue is internet access.  E-library subscriptions such as Wheelers require internet access at all times to read the book which is problematic when on public transport or out of wifi, whereas Borrowbox titles can be downloaded and then used offline, which is far more beneficial.  But both e-book repositories permit only one borrower at a time to access a title.  For class texts , this can be extremely expensive for schools to purchase multiple subscriptions for the same title.  The other pecuniary issue is that many e-books are often just ‘leased’, and as they are not owned by the school, can suddenly become unavailable and or the lending parameters change without warning.  

Whilst the cost of e-books may be prohibitive, the on-going costs of maintaining digital literature subscriptions for online encyclopaedias and databases are often cheaper than  obtaining individual journal subscriptions (Cull, 2011).  Academic libraries in particular, often purchase databases with access to a variety of journal articles for a lower cost than individual subscriptions.  Smaller libraries may coalesce to purchase a subscription together.  For example, ACT local libraries offer Gale databases as part of their collection.  

When it comes to genres, recent publishing trends show an increase in young adult literature across Australia and the world (Manuel & Carter, 2015).  These trends indicate two possible reasons, the first being that young adults are reading increasingly, and the second, is that as teenagers age into adults, they are retaining their young adult reading preferences.  Manual & Carter (2015, p.122) point out that fiction is still the most popular choice for teens, followed by multimedia, non-fiction and magazines.  Genre wise,  fantasy and mystery are popular with both sexes, and romance disdained by everyone (Manuel & Carter, 2015, p.123).  Graphic novels are making a comeback but this time in a digital space, girls seem to like detective stories, action and adventure, whereas boys like science fiction, informational texts and biographies AND EVERYONE HATES POETRY (Manuel & Carter, 2015, p.123-124; Moorefield-Lang & Gavigan, 2011))!  

What is interesting about reading preferences with teenagers is that text selection and pedagogical practices in the classroom actually has an impact on students.  When inappropriate classroom texts are selected, and or the pedagogy associated with them is poor, students develop an antithesis for that particular title/genre or reading in general (Manuel & Carter, 2015, p.125).  A perfect example would be Golding’s Lord of the Flies. I studied this text many moons ago and I only have ghastly memories of the text. 

I am an avid reader and I STILL GET THE HEEBIE JEEBIES when I think about that book.  

Whereas appropriate texts and good pedagogy can bolster a love of reading.  I studied Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre ain high school and I still love her to the point where I have seven copies of Jane Eyre!!!




*All imageswere obtained from the public domain.




Digital devices have been often touted as the panacea for improving reading rates, literacy and learning for three main reasons.  Introducing digital literature into classroom practice allows teachers to bridge the digital disconnect between a teenager’s personal life in the digital world and the school’s analogue world.  By making these valuable connections, teachers are able to lure students to tasks they may normally disdain, such as reading class texts or researching online.  Combined with the fact that most teenagers are permanently glued to their personal devices means that they are very receptive to the idea of using (their phones and) digital literature for personal and educational purposes.



Cull, B. W. (2011). Reading revolutions: online digital text and implications for reading in academe. First Monday, 16(6). Retrieved from

Dickenson, D. (2014). Children and reading: Literature review. Australia Council 2014. Retrieved from

Earp, J. (2017). Infographic – Teen reading habits. Teacher Magazine. Australian Council for Educational Research.  Retrieved from

Houston, C. (2011). Digital Books for Digital Natives. Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 9(3), 39–42. EBSCO 

Manuel, J., & Carter, D. (2015). Current and historical perspectives on Australian teenager’reading practices and preferences. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 38(2), p.115-128. Retrieved from

Moorefield-Lang, H., & Gavigan, K. (2012). These aren’t your father’s: the new world of digital graphic novels. Knowledge Quest, 40(3), 30-35. Retrieved from

O’Connell, J., Bales, J., & Mitchell, P. (2015). Literature in digital environments: Changes and emerging trends in Australian school libraries. In L. Das, S. Brand-Gruwel, K. Kok, & J. Walhout (Eds.), IASL 2015 Conference Proceedings: The School Library Rocks: Living it, Learning it, Loving it (pp. 356-369). International Association of School Librarianship.

Teen Reading In a Digital Era. (2017). Report at a glance – Teen Reading in a digital era. Murdoch University & Deakin University.  Retrieved from

Wyatt, D., McQuire, S., & Butt, D. (2015). Public libraries in a digital culture.  University of Melbourne & State Library of QLD. University of Melbourne Press. Melbourne Victoria. Retrieved from

Task 1 – INF533 – Reading, literacy and digital literature in the classroom.

xxolaxx / Pixabay – Reading in a digital landscape.


The advent of technology, and plethora of personal devices has revolutionised the reading paradigm to the point where, texts are no longer restricted to print, but are now available through multiple formats and platforms.  Digital literature utilises a continuum of technology to convey meaning, and the level of computation varies from a scanned book, to the interactive hypertext narratives with multimodal features  with a host of genres and hybrid genres such as e-stories, linear e-narratives, interactive stories, hypertext narratives and electronic games narratives. in the middle (Walsh, 2013; Maneti, Lipscombe & Kervin, 2018; Rettberg, 2012).  These new formats as Lamb (2011), and Sadokiesiski (2013) point out, require additional literacies to engage, process, evaluate and communicate. 

This is because reading has evolved from text decoding, to constructing meaning from symbols (Lamb, 2011) . 

ACARA’s (2018)  response has been to define literacy as the ability to interact with, engage and communicate across modalities for personal, social, economic and recreational purposes. 

This definition clearly indicates that teaching practice needs to include a variety of texts, in print, digital and hybrid formats (Leu, Forzani, Timbrell, & Maykel, 2015).  But whilst there are strong arguments and mandates to include digital texts, there are are complications.  

Many students struggle with digital text comprehension, as the simultaneous synthesising of visual, audio and text information causes information overload (Jeon, 2012; Mangen, Walgermo & Bronnick., 2013).   Students with poor fundamental literacy are at further disadvantage, as they are easily distracted away from the content by the multimodal elements, as well as being unable to locate information due poor visual ergonomics (Lamb, 2011; Leu, McVerry, OByrne, Kili, Zawilinski, Everett-Cacopardo,Kennedy, Forzani, 2011;  Jeon, 2012; Hashim & VongKulluksn, 2018; Mangen et al., 2013, p.66). 

geralt / Pixabay – Feeling overwhelmed???


I have noticed that here is a strong disinclination for teachers to include the creation of hypertext narratives and games in their practice (Mantei, Lipscombe & Kervin, 2018).  This hesitancy could be attributed to the premise that it requires both the student and the teacher to be competent in the additional literacies  (Leu et al., 2015).  Whilst many students could be considered digital natives and may possess the necessary skill set to create such hypertext, many teachers would be considered digital immigrants and therefore lack the confidence to implement such technologies in their classroom.  Unfortunately by excluding creation of digital texts, students are disadvantaged by the lack of potential extension and consolidation of learning. 

Armstong (2020) Bloom’s Taxonomy. CC – BY – NC

Remember Bloom – By failing to include a creative element – students are being denied opportunities for higher order thinking.  

In an effort to address some of these concerns, our library team has a balanced collection of print and digital literature, as well as have recently implemented an information literacy scope and sequence  (Leu et al., 2015).  Our students have access to a robust physical collection, e-books and audiobooks through a BorrowBox subscription, as well as online databases such as InfoBase, Gale, Britannica, EBSCO, Trove, and World Book.  

Anecdotally from my position as a teacher librarian, I can see the students vastly prefer print for recreational reading, but have a strong preference for digital resources for informational purposes.  I regularly see many teachers include digital texts into their teaching practice through reading and viewing of e-books, online databases and web based texts.  Through our information literacy program, we are endeavouring to teach digital literacy skills, such as, how to locate, evaluate and synthesise information, as well as problem solving in both online and offline scenarios (Leu et al., 2015, p. 140).  

Digital literature has transformed society, the definition of literacy and the landscape of pedagogical practice.  Time will only tell if our scope and sequence improve digital literacies and competencies in both the faculty and the students… stay tuned for further updates




Armstrong, P. (2020). Bloom’s Taxonomy. Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University. Retrieved from Image licenced under CC – BY – NC 

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Hashim, A & VongKulluskn, V. (2018). E reader apps and reading engagement: A descriptive case study. Computers and Education, 125, pp.358-375. Retrieved from

Jabr, F. (2013). The reading brain in the digital age: The science of paper versus screens. Scientific American. Retrieved from

Jeon, H. (2012). A comparison of the influence of electronic books and paper books on reading comprehension, eye fatigue, and perception. The Electronic Library, 30(3), 390-408. doi: 10.1108/02640471211241663 

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and leading with technology, 39(3), 12-17. Retrieved from login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=67371172&site=ehost-live

Leu, D., McVerry, J. G., O’Byrne, W. I., Kiili, C., Zawilinski, L., Everett-Cacopardo, H., Kennedy, C., & Forzani, E. (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(1)5-14. Doi: 10.1598/JAAL.55.1.1

Leu, D.J, Forzani, E.,Timbrell, N., & Maykel., C. (2015) . Seeing the forest, not the trees: Essential technologies for literacy in primary grade and upper elementarty grade classroom. Reading Teacher 69: (2), p.139-145. Retrieved from

Mangen, A., Walgermo, B. R. & Bronnick, K.A. (2013). Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 58, 61-68.doi:10.1016/j.ijer.2012.12.002 

Mantei, J., Kipscombe, K., & Kervin, L. (2018). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).

Rettberg, J.W. (2012). Electronic literature seen from a distance: the beginnings of a field. Retrieved from

Sadokierski, Z. (2013, November 12). What is a book in the digital age? [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Sargeant, B. (2015). What is an ebook? what is a book app? And why should we care? An analysis of contemporary picture books. Children’s Literature in education, 46, p.454-466. doi: 10.1007/s10583-015-9243

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).