How we interact in libraries is changing due to technology. One of the biggest changes seen is the library’s physical space. As more resources and books become digitalized, the library’s physical space is evolving. This evolution of the physical space is seeing the library become the ‘hub’ of the school in a way previously not envisioned. I have discussed Maker Spaces in a previous blog but feel it is an appropriate example of how libraries are changing and being utilised. It is no longer a place filled with silence where teacher-librarians walk around saying ‘shhhhh’. It is a place to meet and be involved in collaborative research, work, clubs and activities.
These physical space changes and the way students are interacting with the library have also led to distinct furniture changes. Libraries are embracing designs that allow for a more flexible use of space. Comfortable chairs, bean bags, reading nooks as well as green screen, media rooms, conference rooms and technology labs are all being incorporated into library designs. The changing space in libraries is allowing students and youth to engage in the library in ways that foster digital and 21st century skills.
These changes bought about by technology means students will probably rely more and more on electronic resources for their research and reading. Modern libraries need to provide information services in a digital environment, as this is a defining characteristic of the “Information Age” and quite natural to the “digital natives” born into this era. This means that libraries will need to undergo continuous improvement of their information landscape.
A way that city and state libraries are embracing and leading change is with their digital borrowing services is BorrowBox. BorrowBox is an award winning Australian App that enables library members to browse and borrow bestselling eBooks and eAudiobooks on their Apple or Android device for limited periods, through this digital loans system. BorrowBox is a FREE download solution. Once you are signed in you can borrow or reserve up to 4 eBooks or eAudiobooks for a 2 week loan period. All you need to get started is a library card.
Whilst the school libraries I work in have been a bit slower to get their eBook collection started, it is starting to gain momentum. More and more schools are investing money into digital books making the information more readily available for students using iPads or a BYOD program. Having this information readily accessible for students is also helping to prepare them for future library use, as their learning and education continues.
Image Source: Own image from a school in Cairns. Image of selection of eBooks for borrowing.
Having more digital information certainly doesn’t make the library or print materials redundant. In fact I believe it makes libraries and those working in them more essential than ever. Print-based information will always be important especially in the primary sector as that’s where students are learning to read. It’s difficult for staff and students to try and keep pace with rapid developments in technology and the way information is accessed, shared, communicated and stored which is why our libraries and librarians are fundamental in this evolving landscape and equipping youth with necessary 21st century skills.