The short version is our print purchases will be for high interest fiction and narrative nonfiction. Everything else will be digital. Two recent articles have helped me clarify my plans for our future.
Joyce Valenza's post about her eBook journey was incredibly helpful, because it reinforced many of the discussions and experiences we are having in our school. Like many, we have been building our e-book collection focusing on reference and nonfiction. (Honestly, the only titles being used are the ones we are embedding into our research LibGuides.) Moving forward we will be prioritizing titles with multi-user licenses, and on-demand options.
The other article that had me thinking was The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens. This is a great read, and provides the science behind the issues between print and digital reading. The human brain is wired to process real-life images, and evolved to adapt to print. Reading occurs in the same region as image processing, and is also tied to mapping, that helps orient the brain. Reading off the print page also involves a mapping that orients the reader, and facilitates building context and retention. When recalling text, this mapping is tied to our progress in the book, which section it was in, what part of the page. There really is a connection between retention and the tactile experience of reading. I am dropping my digital evangelism, and recognize that there remains a vital role for print in deep reading experiences.
This summer my orders will have high interest print, but for research and inquiry, we are continuing with our book-less philosophy.
Here are a few additional figures in the installation. Aren't they great!