Thursday, October 20, 2016

Budgets Are Limited, Student Interests Are Not

Micka, Tracy
INFO266, Fall 2016

Bill Ferriter (2014, March 3). Is Stocking Library Shelves with Nonfiction Content a Waste of Money? [Web log post]. Retrived from

The basic idea here is that when school libraries are pushed into a forced choice between developing their nonfiction section by either spending money on print or spending it on digital (and this IS the case for most libraries as there is never enough funding), then the author suggests digital - in the name of student choice, currency, relevance, and expediency. Putting it succinctly, the author explains the lack of digital access as a situation where students are “forced to study what they CAN study instead of what they WANT to study.”

My Comments:
I spent longer than I planned on this article because I read every last word, including all the reader comments. And then I read it again. I think this is one of the most important articles I’ve read for this assignment yet...particularly for what it says about connection development.

If our job is to open the world of nonfiction to students and enable them to be self-directed, lifelong learners, then I think digital content is a must, and probably preferential to print books, which are quickly outdated and, without an unlimited budget, cannot adequately cover a breadth of subjects for curious children. That last point on breadth of subject matter may be contestable- for there are ways to incorporate student choice into purchasing decisions, and there is the idea that the collection should be focused (narrowed) anyway by the unique needs of the school’s community and curriculum.

Still, it seems common sense to me to build up nonfiction collections with digital access. There are nuances to the argument, however, and the real gold here is in the comments section, where readers make of number of important objections and clarifications. Such points include the idea that young and reluctant readers benefit from the tactile experience of physical books; not all students have digital access at home, so they need print books; and most importantly- providing digital access is not enough- kids need information literacy instruction.

Ultimately, this article is about how to get more bang for your buck and Jennifer Henry’s comment  (titled “Cooperation & Innovation”) has some great points about connection development that might help those of us on a tight budget not feel so constricted by that forced choice.

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