Print vs. Electronic Resources

In my post I indicated I have a bias toward print resources.  Personally, I prefer to read from a book rather than a computer screen.  Only my belief in using less paper where possible, keeps me from printing out articles so I can read them more comfortably.  However, I don’t believe this bias is a detriment to the students I am teaching.  I understand students in the 21st century are used to finding information online, and I do encourage this, but I don’t want them to think that technology is the best, most efficient, most reliable tool to use in all situations.  I agree with Reidling when she says we need to think of the web as just another reference tool (p. 109) in a teacher-librarian’s arsenal.  As our notes say, print resources “allow for students to focus on a limited amount of information that will give them the background to dig deeper into the topic.”  I agree with this statement, and as I said in my post, I try to get students to start with books when conducting research.  Especially if students know little about the topic, books can give them background information to know what to start looking for online.

I think that is one of the major problems for students when searching for information online.  I like the term coined in Michelle’s post “infobesity” and agree with her that we have information overload when it comes to the Internet.  As Reidling states, students can access ever increasing amounts of information, but that doesn’t mean they also have increased knowledge to go along with it (p. 110).  It is a huge challenge for teacher-librarians to teach students how to sift through all this information.

When I was working as a teacher-librarian I was constantly trying to promote the library’s databases as a search tool rather than Google.  It felt like a losing battle, but if I am completely honest, when I am searching for information, Google is often the first thing I turn to as well.  Therefore, I enjoyed checking out the three different search engines listed in Reidling: Dogpile, Lycos, and Ask Jeeves (now  I liked Dogpile best of the three.  It had advanced search options, little extraneous media ads and it found pretty good sites to my query.  (My test is to search for “space” and “big bang theory” and see if the results are primarily about the theory of the creation of the universe or the TV sitcom.)   It has encouraged me to research other search engines in an attempt to find one to recommend to students.

So, as I said in my post, until technology becomes more cost effective, reliable and available to all students, I don’t think the battle between print and electronic resources is something we have to “win”.   Though emphasis is turning toward electronic resources, I think school libraries will continue to have print resources for some time to come.

Reidling, Ann. Reference Skills for the School Library Media Specialist: Tools and Tips. 2nd Edition. Worthington: Linworth Publishing Inc, 2005. p109-114. Print.


1 Comment

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One response to “Print vs. Electronic Resources

  1. Anne

    Try Clusty for a more visual approach – it’s even won a few web awards. Another trick for using the book first is to teach students that the index/glossary can provide good reliable terminology for search engines!

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