Young readers have embraced computer technology – and are choosing it as an alternative form of entertainment to books – or so I thought.

That was until I spoke to my teenager, a serious gamer who has reached an advanced combat level in Runescape  (I think that means he’s pretty good – he should be, the number of hours he ‘practices’).

One day we were having a discussion about how things were going at school.  I asked him, “If there was one thing you could change about your school, what would it be?” His answer was spontaneous and surprising. “Less computers in the library and more books.”

Admittedly, he has always been an avid reader, but it seems that so are lots of kids at his school – but they are being turned off the library; particularly by the lack of non-fiction books. I think sometimes that we assume that if we give kids access to the computer and the internet, they can find out whatever they want.

My son still loves to curl up with a real book and is still keen to learn about anything and everything. But he doesn’t want the superficial facts like the speed of the fastest car in the world, he wants to know how that car is built and what makes it run.

School libraries have steadily lost funding, support and teacher-librarians over the past ten years and the situation has reached crisis point in many schools.

It makes me wonder; before we replace bookshelves in our school libraries with computer desks, perhaps we should think carefully. Maybe the answer to encouraging more readers is to offer them more books and more people to enthusiastically guide and encourage them with their reading.


On the 10th March 2010, the Federal Minister for Education, Julia Gillard MP, set up a committee to inquire into and report on school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools. She has invited submissions to be sent to her by Friday 16th April 2010 (ironically, the closing date for the Prime Minister’s Literary awards)

This is your chance to act to save our school libraries. Send your submission to the Gillard Inquiry. For more information about this issue or how to submit, go to the Saving Aussie Books Blog

If you are an author, an illustrator, parent or a lover of books, this is your chance to help save our school libraries for Australian kids today, and in the future.