Electronic Resources in the Virtual Learning Environment: A Guide for Librarians

Sarah Crudge (Learning Resource Centre Coordinator, New College, Stamford, UK)

Program: electronic library and information systems

ISSN: 0033-0337

Article publication date: 25 April 2008




Crudge, S. (2008), "Electronic Resources in the Virtual Learning Environment: A Guide for Librarians", Program: electronic library and information systems, Vol. 42 No. 2, pp. 201-202. https://doi.org/10.1108/00330330810867819



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Librarians are increasingly being called upon to pioneer electronic resource initiatives, and the exploitation of such opportunities can do much to raise the library's profile. Furthermore, it is crucial to ensure the information service does not lag behind when an organisation takes the inevitable leap into the domain of electronic delivery. This book is an excellent guide, not only for the information professional who has no experience of the e‐learning field, but also for those who have begun to experiment and wish to develop and channel that interest further.

The author presents this book as a “guide for librarians”, and it is certainly true that although other texts may tackle the various facets of e‐learning in more detail, there are few that consider e‐initiatives from the library standpoint. Librarians have increasing involvement in the development of interactive online courses and such projects are briefly discussed here. However, the library more frequently takes a supporting role for e‐learning, which will often require the delivery of learning resources electronically and in particular through a virtual learning environment (VLE). It is for this application that the book provides a practical guide and untangles the issues and jargon that are perhaps unfamiliar territory.

The book has six main sections, with the first two providing the background information needed to understand how VLEs, e‐learning, the digital library and e‐resources have developed since the 1990s. These chapters are not too long, and provide sufficient references for the interested reader to follow up any avenues of interest. The remainder of the book takes a more practical approach to the discussion of e‐literacy, copyright, and technical issues, concluding with four case studies.

Copyright issues for the electronic environment are often overlooked, but it is usually the librarian's role to advise in such matters. Copyright is often a dry topic, but the chapter included here is a pleasant surprise in its readability. Although the chapter takes a primarily UK standpoint on legislation, some detail of US and Australian law is also included. The book covers those aspects of the topic that will apply to the digital library and raises issues that can easily be overlooked when compiling resources for a VLE. As such, the chapter offers a useful and concise resource, worthy of consultation before embarking on any project involving the provision of electronic information. Technical issues are covered in a short chapter, which describes the various e‐learning specifications and standards and untangles the jargon. This section is well annotated, as are all the chapters, with lists of follow‐up URLs included. The glossary provides a useful look‐up for the many e‐learning acronyms.

The book concludes with the presentation of four case studies, detailing projects conducted in UK Higher Education (HE) institutions. These are especially valuable as they highlight some of the ways a VLE can be exploited by the library service. The projects describe the use of electronic course packs and online resource lists, the development of a library resource area within a VLE, and the creation of an information literacy course. Inclusion of further screen shots to illustrate the discussion of the information literacy course would have been particularly helpful, as would further general discussion of electronic course delivery.

The focus of the book is the HE sector, and the many e‐learning initiatives in other sectors are not explored. However, librarians from other sectors should not be discouraged from reading – the practical nature of many of the book's chapters ensures that ideas can be easily applied across a variety of sectors. Certainly, the delivery of e‐resources is an important issue for the health sector, with National Health Service (NHS) librarians increasingly delivering journals electronically. The author provides a short guide to creating links to electronic journal resources, with details made explicit for several of the major electronic journal suppliers.

This book will be a worthwhile addition to any librarian's reference shelf. It is worth noting that the book is now a few years old, and because e‐learning is a rapidly advancing topic there may be new developments that are not reported here. Nevertheless, the emphasis on a practical approach, coupled with the clarity of layout, ensure this book provides an excellent overview of the topic. Those with experience of e‐learning will find this a useful consolidation but may prefer to consult a more detailed or more recent text for in‐depth discussion of the latest software and initiatives. If, on the other hand, you are a librarian making your first forays into e‐learning and e‐resource delivery, then you need look no further for inspiration and ideas.

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