Friday, March 27, 2009

Death of the book?

As an avid reader and a lover of literature, I must express some concern over the effect of technology on reading. If educators establish their own creative commons in the digital world and spend large amounts of time online, it has the potential to take away from time available for reading. Similarly, society at large is spending more and more time online.

I actually consulted our school librarian to see if she had any data on numbers of books signed out to see if an overall decline in reading was occurring. I was surprised to see that the number of books signed out has been steadily increasing over the last few years. During the last calendar year, our school of 430 kids has signed out almost 15000 books! That is fantastic!

It is interesting to note, however, that kids do virtually no research through library books anymore. Instead they rely on the internet as a resource. I have to admit, it is far easier to find information online, but there is a nostalgic part of me that longs to be on the 4th or 6th floor of the UofS library all by myself gently opening an old hard-cover book that has not been touched in 20 years. Perhaps that is my inner historian speaking.

I value reading and, though I want my students and my own children to be immersed in the digital world, I also want them to read. While reading seems to be alive and well at present, I hope we guard against its extinction. I guess it is all about balance.


  1. I have those same feelings about books and the U of S library (same floors). However, just remember, just because people are on the computer more than with books in their hands, it doesn't mean they are not reading ... or not reading more. I now read more than I ever have, both books and online. More so, I 'read' in different ways than ever before: audio books, podcasts, videos, etc.

    Reading is important, but for the first time in our histories, we can experience the same content in many different ways.

  2. I like you do valule reading, especially in print format (there is nothing like holding a book in one's hand). I find it amazing when the offer to do research is brought up that everyone usually goes to computers first. Books seem to be for entertainment purposes only with many youth. You may remember Law 30 (one of those fluff courses I teach). I do not allow students to search Internet newspapers until about one month before the deadline. I often find that the news sites online too short to engage with the material I want students to see (way shorter than newspapers). Students at first resist, but a few do end up enjoying reading newspapers. I can remember one parent saying at Parent Teacher night how their daughter was reading the paper at night now.

  3. I too love the feel of a book in my hands and would hate to see them go anywhere. I often make my students take it at least one book from the libray when we are doing a research project. They complain but I have a hard time letting go of the traditionalist in me that thinks a book is often more reputable than an on-line source. I know that is not necessarily the case anymore.
    P.S. I miss the U of S library...was that the Murray building??

  4. I HAVE to read a novel before going to bed! It helps me channel out everything else or I'd be staring at the ceiling wondering about what happened that day or what I need to do the next, blah, blah, blah... the sheep counting thing never worked for me. I can't imagine falling asleep by the computer everynight the way I do with a good novel