I recently came across Sunday's New York Times article, Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading? Actually, it is the beginning of a series of articles on the " Internet and other technological and social forces are changing the way people read". This first article discusses the differences between reading a book and reading online. Of course, each has its merits and downfalls. Reading a book, to me, feels much like visiting a friend for a few days - I get the opportunity to really get to know them, learn from them, and am often sorry to say goodbye. Whereas when I read online, I feel like I'm in a room full of people with all different interests and viewpoints. I find myself drawn into one interesting conversation, but then am distracted by something else being discussed that also piques my interest. So, although I am offered a plethora of information and ideas, mingling through all this information takes patience and time...and it takes much effort to stay focused!
When you think about it, Web 2.0 tools are also kind of like being in that room of people: there are so many worthwhile, valuable ideas out there, but keeping your undivided attention on one for any length of time isn't easy. As our students are offered more and more online learning opportunities, they are placed in the same scenario. Does that mean that we keep closing the door to that room so that our students stay focused on just books and classroom learning? Of course not. Actually, our jobs as librarians have taken a very important shift: it's vital that we guide our students through all this information and show them how to get the most value from it all.