September 30, 2016

Librarian Cites ‘Concerning’ Trends in Digital Collection Development



The acquisition and management of digital content is becoming increasingly critical. And given their background in collection development, librarians are uniquely suited to assume this task. But there are pitfalls, according to Michelle Luhtala, the department chair of the New Canaan (CT) High School Library.

In “Six concerns about trends in digital collection development,” a recent post on her blog, Luhtala cites specific practices and misconceptions about econtent, which she’s bringing to the table as a member of an AASL (American Association of School Librarians) group devising guidelines on digital content acquisition.

Her post, excerpted here:

I have concerns about the way eCollections are developing – particularly the following emerging trends in K-12 library programs.

  • Administrators/Board of Education members confuse owning eContent with technology integration.
  • Administrators/Board of Education members “gift” libraries with iPads/Kindles/Nooks, but fail to provide additional funding for eContent/apps, or tech support to manage them.
  • Libraries replace print with eContent, without making curricular adjustments to their instructional program to teach students and teachers how to access eContent.
  • Librarians feel compelled to acquire eContent from only one distributor because it is too confusing – for them, for students, for teachers, for business managers – to purchase eContent from a variety of distributors, thus materials selection is driven by who they buy from, not what aligns with the curriculum. This is a classic example of the tail wagging the dog.
  • Distributors are “packaging” eContent, and marketing these packages as Common Core aligned, or standards aligned. This is a burgeoning industry, and I predict it will grow to include instructional materials and assessments. It is our job to develop our collections, aligning them with our school/district’s curriculum – not to buy ready-made packages from vendors.  It is our job to create, instructional materials, and to determine how to best assess our students’ learning.
  • Continue reading…

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On October 14, 2015 Library Journal, School Library Journal, and thousands of library professionals from around the world gathered for the 6th annual Digital Shift virtual conference to focus on the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital transition’s impact on libraries, their communities, and partners. Now available on-demand, this year’s program provides actionable answers to some of the biggest questions our profession faces for and from libraries of all types – school, academic, and public and features thought-provoking keynotes from John Palfrey, author of BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, and Denise Jacobs, tech leader, author, and creativity evangelist.
Kathy Ishizuka About Kathy Ishizuka

Kathy Ishizuka (, @kishizuka on Twitter) is Executive Editor of School Library Journal.