Does listening to an audiobook promote the same literacy development as reading text from a page. I guess it depends how one defines literacy. I have written before arguing that traditional definitions of literacy were narrowly defined (as simply the ability to read and write) and no longer pertinent to describe literacy in the 21st century. I don’t think it’s necessary to revisit definitions. We can envision literacy skills as effective communication skills using any type new media.
I find myself accessing audiobooks more and more these days. Between squeezing out available reading time and the ease with which audiobooks allow for multitasking, audiobooks have become a viable option for me to access the beauty and bounty of literature while living in a world with enormous time constraints.
What’s new for me is that I have recently discovered that public libraries, the symbol of literacy in our world, have allowed patrons to access electronic media such as audiobooks, online and through mobile devices. After years of not taking advantage of the public library, I was pleased to discover recently that our local public library offers access to audiobooks through the Overdrive Media Console app that I downloaded through iTunes. Together, the app and my new library membership allows me access to the Ontario Library Service Download Centre. This service provide library patrons to ‘checkout’ audio material, download and consume the content through the app, and then ‘return’ the material after a set period has elapsed. I must admit, checking out and returning digital content seems strange to me, especially as the app allows some of the content to be burned to a CD, but I guess this stipulation is what allows libraries to provide media content to digital devices.
What really impresses me most are the changes that libraries are undergoing to stay relevant. As I stated earlier, I just signed up for a library card after years without one. The main reason why I didn’t have a library was due to the fact that I was able to get more relevant materials in different formats more efficiently and effectively online when compared to only fixed media from a library with limited hours of operation. By delving into these new distribution methods, I find that libraries are evolving and once again becoming a source for relevant information in a world full of sources, both legitimate and non-legitimate. I, for one, applaud them for these efforts to provide the general public with access to credible information in any format they wish to receive it.