With the technology students use to learn constantly changing, Bettendorf Middle School librarian Deb Temperly said keeping up can be a challenge.
A former classroom teacher who has been a librarian for five years, Temperly said changing technology is a major part of her job in several ways - from going to professional development training to learning how to use new technology and then teaching students and staff how to use it.
She also fills in as needed to help other staffers deal with technology problems.
"We're kind of a ‘jack-of-all-trades, master of none' sometimes," she said.
New technology will be available at the middle and high schools in Bettendorf this year. Temperly said she has been training staff on the use of Google Docs, a system that allows users to create and edit documents from a computer or smartphone and work on them collaboratively with others in real time.
Temperly said she also will be teaching students and staff how to use AEA online, a database system funded by the state through the Area Education Agencies.
She said a question she continues to struggle with is how much of her allocated money should be spent on traditional books and how much on new technology. She said a growing number of middle school students have e-readers, and the demand for e-book offerings at the library will grow.
The issue of choosing between e-books and other new technology and traditional printed materials can be an emotional one for book lovers because it challenges the traditional view of what a library should be, said Carla Tracy, the library director at Augustana College in Rock Island.
"That will be the hardest (change) of all," she said. "It's hard because of people's emotional attachment to books."
Tracy said libraries are facing other technology decisions such as whether to continue subscribing to printed periodicals or to the electronic version because many libraries can't afford both.
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The question of which books to buy in electronic form is complicated by several factors. Tracy said that while students may want textbooks and academic journals to be available electronically, they might prefer leisure reading in a printed book.
That could change as e-reader technology becomes better and more widespread, and as future generations become more acclimated to it.
"With each new generation, earlier and earlier in their lives they're getting used to the digital version of things," she said.
Ultimately, she said, the decisions will be made based on demand.
"The users vote with their feet," she said. "In this case, I guess they vote with their fingers."