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Do we need physical books in school libraries in the 21st Century? Discuss...

Updated: Jul 1, 2019

In July, the CPD for #LibraryStaffLoveLearning is to discuss a chapter provided free by Elsevier called The Problem for Libraries in the Twenty-First Century: The Need to Accept a Paradigm Shift by George Stachokas.

As I run this group I have to read and create the questions to get us started. However, as I started reading I realised that Stachokas was suggesting that our libraries, which are full of physical books, were at risk of becoming obsolete and it was time to move online and into the future. As I read I began to get upset! How could our school libraries ever become a place where physical books no longer existed? Surely the physical book is the stepping stone to learning how to find out for yourself online. What about the pleasure of reading a physical book? Surely nothing can replace the touch, feel and yes, even smell of a real book.

Before I got too carried away I had to remind myself that Stachokas was actually talking about university libraries and not school libraries but the parallel was frightening, apart from one thing. School libraries have no money! Online resources are expensive and schools struggle to find enough money to keep their physical libraries up to date so to find anything for online resources, especially if it is linked to the school library is not going to happen any time soon.

However, if I put my sensible head on maybe this is where our conversations need to move to. I am not suggesting that we tell our headteachers to get rid of the physical books but maybe they should be reduced over time. Leaving space for study and building up our online collections and teaching how to access them is maybe more of the future than we realise. What do you think?

If you would like to discuss this please read the chapter and join in our conversation now.


Excerpt 8 — The Problem for Libraries in the Twenty-First Century: The Need to Accept a Paradigm Shift, Chapter 3 from the book After the Book: Information Services for the 21st Century, by George Stachokas

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