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Associations and InstitutionsAnnual 

64th IFLA General Conference Logo

   64th IFLA General Conference
   August 16 - August 21, 1998


Code Number: 010-131-E
Division Number: III.
Professional Group: School Libraries and Resource Centres
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 131.
Simultaneous Interpretation:   No

Internet resources for reading promotion

Laurel Anne Clyde
Department of library and Information Science
Faculty of Social Science
University of Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland


Despite pessimistic predictions about the future of books and reading in an era of information technology, there is no real evidence that the Internet is going to lead to "the death of the book" or even a decline in reading. The reality is that the use of new information and communications technologies requires sophisticated reading skills and has so far resulted in an increase in book and magazine publishing, at least in fields related to the new technology. In addition, the small amount of research that has been done suggests that young people who use the Internet are also likely to be readers. Further, the Internet provides access to many resources that can be used for reading promotion. These resources include World Wide Web sites/pages for teachers and teacher librarians and/or parents, and sites/pages aimed at young people. Web pages for reading promotion have been created by professional organisations, public libraries, publishers, among others.


The widespread and rapid adoption of new information technologies has been seen variously by forecasters as leading to "the death of the book", the "end of reading", and/or the "demise of libraries as we know them". The reality, however, is that the use of information technologies like the Internet has resulted in an increase in printed book and magazine publishing, a greater emphasis on the importance of literacy, and the introduction of a range of new services in libraries (almost always in addition to, rather than instead of, more traditional services related to reading). The effective use of new information technologies requires increasing levels of literacy, rather than the reverse, despite the development of graphical, icon-based, or multimedia interfaces. While there is some evidence that young people are reading less today than in former times, and using more technology, there is also evidence that young users of technology seek out recreational reading materials that reflect their interest in computers and networks. In addition, we have seen the development, in recent years, of electronic resources to promote reading; these include library catalogue interfaces that help young people to select books, CD-ROMs that present information and activities that encourage reading, and Internet resources related to reading promotion. Thus, rather than being opposing forces, reading and information technology are in many ways interdependent.


First it was the computer that would lead, we were told, to the "death of the book"; next it was CD-ROM, hailed by some as "the new papyrus", a modern alternative to the book. Both the computer and CD-ROM are still with us, of course, as is the book. More recent predictions of a limited life span for the book have been related to the Internet; it is probable that these will turn out to be as unfounded as the earlier ones. The reality is that the use of information technologies like CD-ROM and the Internet has resulted in an increase in printed book and magazine publishing, at least in specialist fields associated with these technologies. This is despite the enormous growth in CD-ROM and online publishing.

Useful worldwide statistics for the publication of books and magazines are difficult to find, in part because few of the people or organisations who cite such statistics make it clear what they are measuring. When we count "published books", are we referring to new works, translations, new editions, new formats? When we count magazines and journals, are small local magazines with a circulation of a few hundred to be counted equally with international magazines; as with books, do translated editions that incorporate local content count separately? If there are fewer magazine titles, but each is published in larger editions, has publishing output increased or declined? This gives an idea of the questions raised by the statistics that are available. In order to get a broad indication of the effect of the Internet on book publishing, a simple search was carried out in the Books in Print and British Books in Print databases on DIALOG, for books dealing in some way with the Internet. Figure 1 presents the results. With 806 books listed in Books in Print for 1996 and 389 in British Books in Print, it is clear that at least in the English-speaking world, the Internet has provided a considerable stimulus to print publishing, even though many people who read books about the Internet are also using the Internet to locate information.

The situation is similar in relation to print magazines and journals. In recent years, many print journals and magazines have established Web sites; some professional journals, such as School Library Media Quarterly, have transformed themselves from print journals to electronic journals. But while some journals are moving from a print format to the Web, many new print magazines dealing with the Internet have been established (with or without associated Web sites). An online search of Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory on DIALOG


Figure 1: Books about the Internet listed in Books in Print and British Books in Print, 1995-1997

(in April 1998) showed 148 periodicals with the words "Internet" or "net" in the title. This does not include well-known Internet-related periodicals with titles like Online Access or Information Searcher or Classroom Connect. It also does not include local, state, or provincial-level Internet-related magazines, or magazines provided by small Internet service providers to their clients. Nor does it include the many weekly "magazine sections" devoted to information technology that have been established by newspapers, for example, "Interface" from the Times of London, or "IT" from The Australian. It is apparent that, despite developments in technology, the printed word meets a real need; it is likely to continue to be used in conjunction with information technology into the foreseeable future, if, indeed, it is ever replaced by electronic publishing. It could even be said that print and information technology were made for each other, but nevertheless meet very different needs.


The Internet is being used more and more in schools and in children's libraries. In 1995, President Clinton challenged "business and industry and local governments throughout our country to make a commitment of time and resources so that by the year 2000 every classroom in America will be connected." In the Australian state of New South Wales, all government schools had an Internet connection by the end of 1996; the Canadian province of Alberta aimed to achieve the same goal at the same time. The Icelandic Education Network (ISMENNT), established in 1992, has provided all Icelandic schools with the means of connecting to the Internet (though currently only around 94 per cent choose to do so); Norway and Finland have also connected all schools through national education networks (NORDINFO, 1997). Countries as diverse as Chile (Gomez, 1996), Malaysia (Singh, 1996), and Mauritius (Oberg, 1996) are also aiming to have Internet access in all schools. Clearly, there is an expectation that Internet access will have desirable educational outcomes. However, what, if any, is the relationship between use of the Internet and reading, especially for children and young people?

A literature search revealed surprisingly little real information, though there is no shortage of opinion. For example, in a "conversation" published in Educational Leadership (O'Neil, 1996), two Internet experts disagreed about the educational value of the Internet: Crawford Kilian felt that it could be used productively if teachers guided their students through the "information white water", whereas Clifford Stoll thought that the Internet "would do very little to resolve kids' reading deficiencies, restore art and music programs, or enhance interpersonal communication opportunities". For Constance Mellon, writing in the Journal of Youth Services in Libraries in 1994, a concern was that "the personal relationship involved when children and adults are reading together... may not be replicated with technology". An article with the provocative title "Will there be a Children's Book Week in the Year 2000?", published in School Library Media Activities Monthly in 1994, looked at the future of children's books and reading in the light of increased use of the Internet and expressed misgivings about the Internet (particularly related to the quality of information on the net). It is worth noting that we now know the answer to the question posed in the title of the article; not only will there be a Children's Book Week in many countries in the year 2000, but print publishing for children seems to be alive and well.

Another group of writers, mostly classroom teachers, assume that the Internet has value and describe their use of it for educational applications. Their articles tend to be positive and practical; some are even evangelistic about the possibilities opened up by this new technology. Celeste Oakes has described her use of Internet electronic mail with first grade students in Nevada for language arts work; among other things, she observed that the "email exchanges motivated some students to work harder in learning to read" (1996, p.38). Harry Noden and Barbara Moss, who used Internet electronic mail with their students via FrEdMail and Learning Link, argue that students gain in reading and writing (1993); in another article, Noden (1995) describes the use of email in his eighth grade language arts classroom and offers justification for use of the Internet as an educational tool. Other teachers and school administrators describe the Internet and suggest ways that its resources might be tapped in the classroom, amongst other things to encourage reading (Marcos, 1994; Irvin, 1997; Ryder & Graves, 1997; Proctor & Allen, 1994). In 1996, the National Council of Teachers of English (United States) published a book, Computer Conversations: Readers and Books Online (Jody & Saccardi), which advocated the use of the international networks to "create a community of readers in the classroom" and "to teach children to talk about books".

Despite all this enthusiasm, and a great deal of anecdotal material, the research evidence is as yet somewhat slim. While there are some indications that young people are reading less today than in former times, watching more television (Davies, 1996), and using more technology, there is also evidence that those young people who watch television and use the Internet also read. This does not suggest that the Internet encourages reading, but it is clear that the two are not mutually exclusive and may even be associated. In 1997, Sólveig Haraldsdóttir and Svava Guðjónsdóttir carried out a survey of 400 teenagers in Iceland (with a response rate of 88.5%) that showed that the Internet "does not interfere with the reading" of the 14- and 16-year-olds in their study; in fact, "the majority of those who use the Internet also read" (pp.58-59, translation from the Icelandic supplied by the authors). In one sense, this result should not come as a surprise: in order to be able to use most Internet applications, one must not only be able to read, but to read well. The effective use of new information technologies requires increasing levels of literacy, rather than the reverse, despite the development of graphical, icon-based, or multimedia interfaces.

It seems, too, that young users of technology, and perhaps other young people as well, seek out print recreational reading materials that reflect their interest in computers and networks. Books with technology-related themes have appeared in the lists of award-winning books for young people in recent years, while at the other end of the scale, we have seen the emergence of series books such as "The Web" series from Dolphin Paperbacks. With titles like Dreamcastle, Gulliverzone, Lightstorm, and Sorceress, the books in this series explore the story possibilities inherent in the international networks; young people, sitting at computers and wearing virtual reality suits, have all kinds of adventures in cyberspace.


One of the aims of the conference presentation will be to discuss one aspect of the interplay between information technology and reading: the use of the Internet as a basis for reading promotion activities. In particular, the presentation will focus on the resources that are available on the Internet to support reading promotion. The activities, projects, and resources to be discussed will include the following:

Among these resources will be Web pages created by professional associations and organisations that are concerned with books and reading; Web pages or sites created for teachers and/or school librarians (including sites created by education authorities); listservs, newsgroups, and discussion forums for teachers and/or school librarians and /or other people who have an interest in children's books and reading; Web pages/sites created for children and young people with the aim of sharing stories or encouraging reading; sites created by publishers of children's books; sites/pages created by public libraries for their young users; Web sites/pages created by or for authors of books for young people; sites that publish the work of young people (often with the aim of encouraging reading and literacy through writing); and sites associated with special projects.


Figure 2: Part of the Web page created to support the conference presentation


A Web page has been created to support this conference presentation; the page provides links to the resources discussed in the paper. While the paper was completed in April 1998, the Web page will be updated regularly before the IFLA conference, so that it may also incorporate links to resources that are not described in the paper, plus current information about resources listed or described in the paper. The Web page will remain on the Internet for public use, as part of the Web site of the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL). (The author is Webmaster for IASL.)


Associations Concerned With Books and Reading

Web Pages/Sites for Teachers and School Librarians

Listservs and Newsgroups for Teachers and School Librarians

rec.arts.books.childrens (see particularly the FAQ document)

Web Pages/Sites for Children and Young People

Sites Created by Children's Book Publishers

Sites/Pages Created by Public Libraries

Sites/Pages Created by or for Authors

Sites that Publish the Work of Young People

Project Sites/Pages


Armstrong, Chris (1996), "Threads from the Web: Internet sites for YLR readers", Youth Library Review, 22, Autumn, pp.27-29.

Clinton, Bill (1995), Quoted in "The Internet: Is it replacing the library?", Drive Magazine, Fall 1997.

Clyde, Laurel A. (1996), State of the Art Study of Information Technology in the Libraries of the Nordic Countries: Iceland, Félagsvísindastofnun [Social Science Research Institute], Reykjavík.

Clyde, Laurel A. (1996), "Children's literature and the Internet", Online presentation for the ITEC (Information Technology in Education Conference) Virtual Conference, 3-9 June.

Clyde, Anne (1995), "Children's literature resources on the Internet", Emergency Librarian, 23(1), September-October, pp.52-54.

Clyde, Laurel A. (1993), "Computer-based resources for young people: an overview", International Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship, 8(1), pp.1-21.

Davies, John (1996), Educating Students in a Media-Saturated Culture, Technomic Publishing, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Gomez, Isabel (1996), "Chile", IASL Newsletter, 25(3) October, p.16.

Hunt, Peter (1986), "The child, the book, and the Internet", in Sustaining the Vision: Selected Papers from the 24th Annual Conference of the International Association of School Librarianship, Worcester College of Education, International Association of School Librarianship, Seattle, pp.131-135.

Irving, Judith L. (1997), "Using social proclivity to enhance literacy learning for young adolescents", Childhood Education, 73(5), pp.290-291.

Jody, Marilyn and Saccardi, Marianne (1996), Computer Conversations: Readers and Books Online, National Council of Teachers of English, Urbana, Illinois.

Knowles, Elizabeth and Smith, Martha (1997), The Reading Connection: Bringing Parents, Teachers, and Librarians Together, Libraries Unlimited, Englewood, Colorado.

Marcos, Kathleen (1994), Internet for Language Teachers, ERIC Digest, ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics, Washington, DC. ED 376 734.

Mellon, Constance A. (1994), "Reflections on technology, books and children", Journal of Youth Services in Libraries, 7(2), Winter, pp.207-210.

Minkel, Walter and Anderson-Torgrimson, Paige (1997), "Blender Web nerd world? A guided tour of where teens go for (gulp) fun on the Net", School Library Journal, 43, July, pp.24-28.

Noden, Harry R. (1995), "A journey through cyberspace: reading and writing in a virtual school", English Journal, 84(6), October, pp.19-26.

Noden, Harry and Moss, Barbara (1993), "Virtual schools: reading and writing (professional development)", Reading Teacher, 47(2), October, pp.166-168.

NORDINFO (1997), State-of-the-Art of Information Technologies in Libraries in the Nordic Countries, European Commission, DGXIII-E4, Luxembourg.

Oakes, Celeste (1996), "First grade online", Learning and Leading With Technology, 24(1), September, pp.37-39.

Oberg, Dianne (Compiler)(1996), "1996 IASL Assembly of Associations", IASL Newsletter, 25(3) October, pp.15-20.

O'Neil, John (1996), "On surfing and steering the net: A conversation with Crawford Kilian", Educational Leadership, 54(3), November, pp.12-17.

Proctor, L.F. and Allen, A.J. (1994), K-12 Education and the Internet: A Technical Report Prepared for Saskatchewan Education, Training and Employment, Saskatchewan, June. ERIC Document ED 373 798.

Rudden, Jane F. and Mallery, Anne L. (1996), "Effects of Internet instruction and computer experience on preservice teachers' concerns about its place in planning and teaching", Revised version of a paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the College Reading Association, Charleston, 31 October-3 November 1996. ERIC document ED 409 592.

Ryder, Randall J. and Graves, Michael F. (1997), "Using the Internet to enhance students' reading, writing, and information-gathering skills", Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 40(4), December-January, pp.244-254.

Saffo, Paul (1994), "The soul of a social machine", Electronic Learning, 13(5), February, pp.16-17.

Singh, Diljit (1996), "Malaysia", IASL Newsletter, 25(3) October, p.18.

Sólveig Haraldsdóttir and Svava Guðjónsdóttir (1997), Goðsögnin um þá hefð Íslendinga að gefa bækur í jólagjöf: Könnun á 14 og 16 ára unglingum, [The Icelandic Tradition of Giving Books at Christmas: Survey of 14 and 16 Year Olds], BA Project, Library and Information Science Department, University of Iceland, Reykjavík.

(1994), "Will there be a Children's Book Week in the year 2000?", School Library Media Activities Monthly, 11(3), November, p.4.