Over the past two years, less emphasis is put on strategies for accessing information in print resources, and more has been placed on instruction and guidance in accessing online information sources, including online databases and Internet sites.
The school library collection reflects changes in the way it is being developed. Many topics students include in research and inquiry projects are truly better researched online. Topics as diverse as Canadian politics and legislation, cultural and demographic information, health topics, natural disasters and the topics such as the pine beetle epidemic are examples that can best be searched via the Internet and online databases. It’s neither practical nor effective to try to develop those parts of the nonfiction collection that require constant weeding and updating. Many magazines, journals and newspapers are available online and through online databases, and websites like Stats Canada and various almanacs make print sources obsolete and impractical for most school libraries.
I do see a place in a school library collection for some almanacs, atlases and other works of reference, as well as general and specific nonfiction areas. For one thing, access to some information is quicker than online (believe it…we test this often!), but I’m also convinced that seeing works of reference and nonfiction in a concrete format, permits a better understanding of how certain kinds of information are categorized and organized for access, and this understanding should be developed in our student body.