by Don Allen
I am a bibliophile. I love books. Can’t get enough of ’em. With the exception of romance novels and westerns, I’ll read virtually anything. That feeling of a book in your hands, the turning of the pages as hours drift by, almost nothing compares to it. I’ve owned hundreds of books on a dozen topics, read hundreds more, and the only thing I know for sure about whatever future house I own is that it will have a dedicated library. The greatest gift I was ever given, hands down, was being taught how to read.
When ebooks started to get big about a decade ago, I wasn’t that interested. I like the feeling of books, the smell, the look of a hardback and the portability of a paperback. Reading a book on a tablet or e-reader seemed almost heretical, a proverbial slap in the face to Gutenberg, and I steadfastly refused to get a Kindle or other such device. Still, admittedly, don’t have one.
But my appreciation for ebooks started to grow when I discovered how useful they were for researching at university. I could search for phrases or words so much faster with an electronic copy of a book than I could with a physical copy. Friends of mine studying medicine were thrilled with ebooks. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (commonly called the DSM) or other medical books, but they are HUGE, 1000+ pages at times. Being able to look up entries on an e-reader was a godsend for them.
My positive thoughts on ebooks were solidified during my teacher training and while I was teaching in the States. Kids that would just walk by a book on the shelf might be willing to read that book if it was on an e-reader. And reading is the truly important point, because without reading so much knowledge and culture would be lost. The written word will always be, regardless of what type of technology they come up with, the most important thing for the future generation’s ability to understand not only the past but also their present. So whether that’s with a book, or on an e-reader, I am a fan.
Here at the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library we understand this, and have been building a collection of ebooks. From history to fiction, classical to brand new, we have over 150 ebooks online (click here) that you can check out. Norfolk Library Service as a whole has over 15,000. Read them anywhere, anytime, without having to worry about forgetting it or losing it. So if you’ve always wanted to read Gone With The Wind, but somehow never find yourself at the Library, now you can. Child doing a report on World War II but is already carrying 100kgs of books around? Try one of our ebooks, they’re simple, free, and all you need is a computer or tablet, or today even a phone, and a library card.
I am still a bibliophile. The feeling of a book in my hands is still preferable to a computer or tablet, and always will be. But, more importantly, I’m a teacher, an educator at heart, and a proponent of the belief that reading, and the love of reading, is arguably the single most important skill to instill in our children. To that end an ebook is just as effective, just as useful, and just as important, as a physical one. So whether at the library or at home, turning pages or swiping a finger, pick up a book, or an ebook, today. I know I will.