NORTH VERNON — Betsy Schwering said she’s old enough to remember the early impacts of computers and young enough to feel comfortable with evolving technology. She has seen firsthand the impact on libraries.
Traditional card-catalogs, which detailed the books available in the Jennings County High School library, have nearly all been replaced by computerized systems, which can locate titles and research material in seconds instead of hours of research.
Book stacks have been taken away to make room for the computers that sit throughout the room; and handheld e-readers, into which electronic versions of books are downloaded, have replaced many books.
And by scanning the computer code attached to the spine of an actual book, all the information needed to reference the book in a student’s computerized report or term paper is stored electronically.
Despite the changes, libraries are about sharing resources as they always have been, said Schwering, the school’s librarian.
“Whether we are sharing traditional books or e-books on an electronic reader, it’s still about sharing resources,” said Schwering, who has a master’s degree in library science.
The high school library lends e-books and some e-readers in addition to traditional books, Schwering said.
Jennings County School Corp. Director of Technology Jeff Downs said he hopes that the near future will bring more e-books into the school district’s various libraries. He would like to see at least one-third of the books purchased by JCSC be e-books, he added.
The new technology in the library mirrors changes the school district is making overall in its schools. For example, it has provided all freshmen and sophomores with iPads to use in their studies.
The approximate cost to the school system for each iPad was $470, Downs said.
Students with iPads can read entire books on the devices. Students without iPads can check out e-readers and e-books from the school library.
“The iPads put the students on a level playing field, as all of them have the same opportunity to learn in a way that they might not have the opportunity to learn in their future,” Downs said.
He believes all high school students eventually will be provided iPads or similar electronic devices.
“In my future, I can see that electronics will replace traditional schoolbooks,” Downs said.
Olivia Heaton sat in the library with her new, school-issued iPad in its black carrying case.
The freshman, who hopes for a career in either tourism or architecture, offered mixed reviews on the iPad’s impact.
“It helps a little, but I don’t think it’s changed things that much. I still have to carry a bunch of books around,” she said.
Working at a desk computer in the library, senior Morgan Davenport said she felt a little jealous of the freshmen and sophomores using iPads.
She has used computers throughout all her years in school and uses the school library’s computers on a daily basis. She also has a computer and laptop at home.
The staff of the Jennings County Public Library is helping the students and staff of the high school library adapt to the introduction of new electronic devices.
Students with a Jennings County Public Library card can access services from their homes or schools through their iPads or computers that they would not otherwise have accessible, said Misty Harris, director of youth services at the public library.
There are many services available on the Internet through the public libraries, such as Overdrive, that allow electronic access to information and e-books in libraries across the nation, Harris said.
“I like to think of it as one great big national library floating above our heads that is just waiting for someone to electronically request some information,” she added.
However, Harris doesn’t think e-readers and e-books will ever totally replace paper books.
“I think they both will work together to make learning and reading stronger,” Harris said.
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