Decay of Discovery
06/01/2011 2 Comments
For all the accessibility, storage, and bells and whistles that come with eBooks and eReaders, there are also clear drawbacks. Among them is the loss of opportunity for discovery inherent in stack perusal. Whether casual browsing or focused searching, libraries and readers have always counted on accidental discovery to augment reading and enhance the user experience.
eBooks rather squelch discovery. The reader may be given suggested titles and authors, but how meaningful are those suggestions? After all, anyone who understands fundamental cataloguing and information management knows that books are organized on shelves according to method and explicit criteria. Volumes tend to be related in very specific ways. Can a for-profit digital bookstore account for that? A library’s digital catalog?
And what about children? Emergent readers and younger kids rely on their parents to purchase or download titles. Without shelf perusal, the experience of spontaneous discovery is completely lost to children. Jaime Hammond, a thoughtful librarian, Library Journal Mover & Shaker, and mother of actual (not virtual) children, tweets:
Thoughtful parents will fill the void left by digital books simply by bringing kids to the library; by letting them have their run of the children’s and YA departments. Kids love finding their own materials. They do it by themselves. How are educators addressing the issue? Are they? How are libraries accounting for the loss of discovery?