Libraries are indispensable in schools. Thanks to them, teachers can develop and implement the content to be taught to their students, and students can go to them to complement and enhance the teachings received in the classroom.

That is why it is very important to have a school library with all possible resources, without forgetting the digital resources that complement and enrich the library.

For digital libraries to be truly effective in schools, they must be perfectly developed and implemented, and their use must be thought out and optimal for both teachers and students.

Hence the importance of prior training for these groups both in technologies and in the use of the digital library. In this way they will be able to take full advantage of the digital library and demonstrate that the investment will not have been in vain.

Tips for creating the perfect digital library in schools

Think of the users. Students shouldn’t have to rush to pick up the only copy of their favorite book, and they shouldn’t rush to the computer to consult the only digital copy of the book. With the digital environment, each student will have their own library.

You have to look for options to create a digital library that allows each user to consult the same book simultaneously to have more options and more commitment from users.

Extends reading beyond Language classes. In many schools, Language teachers have more bibliographic resources than other teachers, who have to travel to the library to get the information they need.

With the digital library, each teacher and each student can have their own large digital library wherever they are, and they can move between subjects effortlessly.

Digital devices are not required. Digital libraries are effective even without 1:1 devices. By setting up a few reading stations where students rotate during the class, the goal can be met.

However, if the solution is browser-based, both student and teacher will be able to access their library from any device connected to the network, be it their mobile phone, computer, SmartTV or even video game console.

It also extends reading to afternoons, weekends and holidays. With digital libraries there is a unique opportunity to continue reading anywhere and in any field with Internet access. It has been shown that access to books is more important for reading than socio-economic status.

Do not dispose of printed materials. Although we are talking about the benefits of digital libraries, students should be able to work with confidence with both digital and printed materials. This is why digital and print libraries must work together, complement and enhance each other.

Avoid animations and other distractions in digital texts. Animations, pop-ups, games, etc. are resources that undoubtedly attract the reader’s attention.

However, it has been shown that in readings intended for students, they produce shallow readings on their part. Digital texts should be designed to help students focus on reading.

Find effective ways for students to get involved with the text. While animations can be distracting, there are many interactive features that can enhance the reading experience. Look for digital options that have useful tools that allow readers to highlight, draw, annotate, write magazines, and cite fonts.

Use digital materials to read aloud. No need to invest in expensive books. Any book or text can be read aloud. We can also exploit digital options with built-in audio so that students can enjoy reading at any time, even when the teacher or family member is away.

Supports English learners and their families with multiple language options. The digital library has one of its strengths in this aspect, as it can include titles or texts in several languages.

In addition, it can become an ideal learning tool by having a built-in dictionary to search for words and increase vocabulary and with recorded audio to provide auditory models of correct syntax and grammar.

Go beyond books. A digital library does not have to be limited to books, it can also include graphic novels, picture books, informational texts and even news articles.

The latter can arouse children’s curiosity about what’s going on in the world, develop an in-depth knowledge of a wide variety of topics, and strengthen social-emotional skills.

Empower the students. With digital libraries, students can get first-hand information about their reading: how long they are reading, at what level, etc. They cannot get this from printed materials. With this information students can make decisions about their own reading and learning.

Empower the masters. Teachers also benefit from the statistics of each of their students. In addition, the statistics provided by digital libraries offer them the possibility to create projects and activities based on students’ interests.

It empowers librarians. They are the guides for students and teachers so that they get it right when they choose their next reading. In addition, freed from the task of guarding and guarding books, they can devote themselves to other tasks by informing about new reading trends or creating new activities.

The librarian must have a perfect knowledge of the digital library in order to be able to use his or her experience to analyze and make recommendations about reading.

Eliminates storage costs, inventory, and penalties for lost or overdue books. The savings of having a digital library means no storage costs, no inventory, no paperwork or filing systems, and no disposal costs. For users there are no penalties for lost or overdue books.

Lena S. O'Reilly