Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Books, digital and otherwise

B Lamar Johnson (1939) noted that to increase "the value of their libraries to their students" (p. 114), colleges should remember that "books are a constant and natural part of the student's environment" (p. 115).

As innovative as this was in 1939, it is equally important today, with some changes. The BOOK is evolving. No longer just the physical item, it is also the virtual or digital book. It is the digitized serial. It is the ebook. It is digital. Where the physical books were placed on shelves, digital books are on virtual shelves. The physical books were (and still are) checked out, circulated and returned. The physical proximity of the library limited the travelling range of the book (until Interlibrary Loan expanded the travel of the physical book). There are typically a set number of physical books available. Digital books, on the other hand, can be accessed anywhere, anytime, anyplace with almost any device.

This "new" book is available. The environment is not limited by time or space, but by technology, software, and connection strength and speed.

Digital resources can be accessed quickly and just-in-time. Students can find resources, bookmark them, and continue to use and access them. This "new book" becomes quickly integrated into the digital environment of the student. The growth of digital databases, electronic resources and ebooks have changed. The student's environment has changed even more. The growth of personal digital devices and the expansion of wireless connectivity have created an environment without boundaries.

Johnson, B. L. (1939). Vitalizing a college library. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

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