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#blogjune - Guest post by @kym_andrews - Review of PD event

Reading practices in a digital world
Talk by Dr. Vivian Howard (Dalhousie University, Canada)

Thursday 25th June was an opportunity for librarians to get together at the State Library of WA to hear Dr Howard talk about two research projects, an event organised by ALIAWest and InfoSci@ECU.

The first case study was on reading apps for pre-school children.  Looking into parents and caregivers perception of reading apps, how they choose reading apps and comparison between reading apps to traditional books. 
I really enjoyed this section. Even though I no longer work in children’s services, or in a public library, I found the study of high value and it would be interesting if someone did a similar such study with Australian parents.  I tweeted during the event as my effort to take notes, as did a few other people, so feel free to look at tweets under the #aliawest or @aliawest.  Some of what I took from this study was that
  •       Little is known about the impact of touch screen technology and apps on emergent literacy.
  •     The American Academy of Paediatrics recommend NO screen time before the age of 2 and limited time for older children.
  •  Reading to preschool children is important to development of early literacy skills.Traditional books are better!         
  • Bonding time is just as important to parents as developing emergent literacy skills    It is all about balance, children can be exposed to numerous reading apps and can benefit from the positive aspects of traditional reading and apps.
  •  As Librarians, we can help parents chose apps that reinforce early literacy skills and the narrative.  Up to us to make sure we are not left out of the conversation.

The second study to be discussed was looking at the program of “One Book, One Nova Scotia”.  A program to attempt to encourage residents of Nova Scotia to read the same book and participate in the conversation about the book.  This has happened over a number of years, but this study looked over a 2 year period.  This was quite interesting as I remember a time when such an event happened in Western Australia as a joint effort between Perth International Arts Festival and State Library of WA.  What I took most from this study was that people are looking for community engagement, community building but such programs need a structure to make such shared discussions/interactions to happen.  It was interesting that the use of social media wasn’t particularly successful, but the potential for such a program utilising social media could lead to community building.  Especially for an area that is widely dispersed and only one major city.   The goal of the program was to create a reading culture, to give the opportunity for social interaction and support lifelong learning.  Whether they achieved that was hard to tell by the results of the study, but the fact the program is still running gives you the sense that it is making some inroads.

I really enjoyed this talk and there are a few things I would like to think more about.  Such as how can we help parents find appropriate apps?  How can we as librarians get involved in this conversation?  Is the idea of a “One Book” program a good one?  Can we bring it back to WA and create that reading culture and build social engagement?  Should we? 
What do you think?

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