By the book, the e-book

building made from books

Some might say that the recent installation by Slovakian artist Matej Kren at the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna composed of thousands upon thousands of books, shows the importance of books as building blocks of knowledge.

However, the rise of the e-book has caused some to question the role of libraries, despite the fact that a growing number of e-books are being downloaded from libraries, although you may still be in need of some tips for a better e-book reading experience.

In terms of Internet research skills, making students aware of the e-books available to them is increasingly important. Some of the tutorials in the Virtual Training Suite have collected together key texts for various academic subjects:

However this is a fast moving field, for example, just today an email alerted us that there are more than 200 free scientific books to download from on topics including electrical engineering, robotics and materials science.

But there’s more potential to e-books – students are getting used to searching Google Books for snippets from textbooks when they aren’t readily available via their library – using them to look up references, get to key quotes or read chapters when physical libraries are shut.

We recently learnt that the Virtual Training Suite had been recommended to students in a couple of academic textbooks and thanks to the availability of e-books, it’s now possible to check what people have been saying about us:

The Handbook of Literary Research edited by Delia da Sousa Correa and W. R. Owens says on p.22 “If you complete the online tutorial and answer the tour quiz at the end of it, you will have gained an excellent overview of planning and conducting searches and evaluating data” in the chapter on Using online and printed sources by Shafquat Towheed (lecturer in English at The Open University).

Study Skills for Social Workers by Chris Stogdon and Robin Kiteley says on p.67 chapter on Learning Online “helps you hone your web-searching skills … encourages you to be more critical and discerning in respect of online information”.

So e-books are readily available as online replacements for textbooks, as places where people may be talking about you and as pointers to other resources – but you won’t be able to use them as building blocks for a new house and that’s probably a good thing.