Books vs. Technology

25 Sep

Google. Wikipedia. Bing. While these sites can be useful for basic knowledge gathering, as teacher-librarians these words make us shudder. They are almost like swear words, thrown out with careless abandon to hurt those of us who value the heart of information gathering and reliability.

On the discussion board for my library course it is obvious that there is a clash between written text and web-based information sources. While we recognize the value and immediacy of web resources, we are secretly excited with the hunt for text-based information; the process of developing a question, searching it out, analysing sources, finding a book, opening the index, locating the page and being given enlightenment through ink pressed onto a smooth, clear piece of paper.

This week (an incredibly busy one in the library as I prep for grade 8 orientation, weed multiple cat mysteries  with names such as “The Purrfect Crime” out of the collection and go book shopping) I was asked to help with both text-based and web-based resource generation. The most exciting part was that I could do both. I pulled a trolley full of books for a teacher to use in her class during one of the days that the library is closed to classes (thank you budget cuts) and I had a discussion with another teacher about how to have her English students create blogs as journals for a Shakespeare unit.

As librarians, we argue about web-based resources vs. text-based resources and, yes, there are pros and cons to both, but our arguing has caused us to be informed about the subject in order to argue. We have grown up with books and text-based research so that is familiar to us, but we have invested time into learning about resources on the internet and on-line reference materials. I would propose that our informed arguing has actually made us more prepared to do our jobs.  

In my library there are 9 computers. When classes come in they need to use both books and internet resources because we simply do not have the money or space to have enough computers for a full class. After my time teaching and with speaking to some of the teachers in my current school, I believe that a big part of my job this year is to expand students’ use of appropriate search engines. They need to know that just because the information is on a screen in front of them doesn’t mean that it is correct or even recent (a common argument in favour of the internet over books). 

Our library system has the ability to create internet resources pages for classes and link them to the main library database. After grade 8 orientation is done I would like to approach some teachers to see if they would be interested in trying out this service with me. I have never used it before, but I think that they would see the value in using a combination of text-based resources in their classroom and web-based resources that the students can link to at home. My preference of one over the other doesn’t really matter because, like a chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk, some things are actually better together.


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