Digitization and online tools provide opportunities for school librarians to actively include their users in creating new library collections. One such example is Digital Collection of Students' Picturebooks, a unique library collection created mostly by students – the largest group of school library users.

Every year students create their own handmade picturebooks which are later digitized and published in ISSUU tool by a group of older students.

So far, ten digital picturebooks have been presented in a specially valuable collection that can be found on the school web site dating back to 2005 http://www.os-dubovac-ka.skole.hr/skola/knjiznica/digitalna_zbirka. The main goal of this project is to be able to present original student work to a broader public, as well as to encourage everybody in using new forms of media creatively and responsibly.

Creating a picture book for the Digital Collection

Creating a picture book for the Digital Collection

New media in library

New technology, online tools and digitization provide great opportunity for school librarians to modernize, improve or expand traditional library services. For example, these new media enable librarians to create various digital collections as a part of school library website, such as collections of e-books or e-magazines, collection of useful websites etc. Furthermore, we can design unique digital collections that include learning materials (presentations, textbooks, infographics etc., all created by teachers or students from the school) which can be used in classes several times over. 

Generally, todays software and online tools are either free or have free versions available. They are intuitive and offer very attractive final products so they can be readily used by librarians. And it is relatively simple to include other users eg. students in using them – without extensive instructions or demanding workshops, providing only a short but motivating presentation with some helpful advice. This is considered one of the biggest advantages of new media – shortly after students get the instructions they can begin to apply their new gained knowledge and skills into what they need it for. 

The goal is to develop digital competence and thus acquire or improve one of the eight basic competences for lifelong learning, as described in several international documents, such as: „A Framework for Developing and Understanding Digital Competence in Europe“, „Digital Agenda“ and „IFLA School Library Guidelines“ as well as in local document „Curriculum for interdisciplinary theme Use of Information and Communication Technology“ .


Students create Digital Collection of Students' Picturebooks

Elementary school Dubovac started the project of digitization in 2005 and the outcome was a Digital collection of students' picturebooks. Back in 2005 digitization was a novelty in school libraries yet, the elementary school of Dubovac and its students in the Young Librarians Group were among the first to have started with digitization. The Young Librarians Group consists of older students (generally eleven to fourteen years old) interested in library work, among which is digitization as well as using new technologies and media. What is important here is the fact that the students were included in the process from the very beginning.

The idea for the project came when students from our school started to participate in national contest My first book, which has been held every year since 2004 with the support of the Ministry of science and education of the Republic of Croatia.

To participate in this contest, a student must create an original picturebook with their own story and handmade illustrations that gives a specific value to each picturebook. Every year the awarded students works are published in print. Others receive special rewards, and some of the works of our students are among them.

The students-authors of non-published picturebooks from our school bring their original works to school library at the beginning of the school year so that the librarian and student members of Young Librarians Group can digitize them.

The process of digitization consists of several steps: firstly, all handmade picturebooks are scanned and the pictures are then (minimally) edited; handwritten (or printed) texts are transcribed into word processor where they are edited/corrected – equally linguistically and technically – if necessary. Finally, pictures and texts are merged into a Powerpoint or pdf-file which is then published on ISSUU website where the „flip the page“ effect is applied. Every digital picturebook is embedded on the school library website http://www.os-dubovac-ka.skole.hr/skola/knjiznica/digitalna_zbirka to become a part of the bigger Digital collection of students' picturebooks.

So far, there are ten digital picturebooks in this Collection and it is constantly enriched with new works as more picturebooks are digitized every year. Also, every year new students join the Young Librarians Group. At the same time, more experienced students become mentors to new students thus practicing peer-to-peer learning while additionally improving their existing knowledges and skills in digitization.

During the process of digitization students are trained to work with different computer software and online tools. It is a good way for them to learn how modern technology can be used creatively. By creating and reading e-picturebooks they become active users of e-materials and learn to form critical attitude toward new media. Furthermore, this experience inspires some students to explore and learn more about (similar) online tools in their free time practicing informal learning.

The main goal of the project was – and still is – to develop and promote digital and media literacy among students as well as digital competence, as mentioned before. On the other hand, it is a great opportunity to preserve and promote unique literary and artistic works of our students since the Digital Collection is available to everyone.

And finally, what adds a special value to this project is establishing a correlation between several (school) subjects – linguistics, art and ICT – through which school library is accomplishing its goal to be an interdisciplinary and multimedia center of the school.


Promoting the Digital Collection

The promotion of the Digital collection of students' picturebooks is also quite an important part of the project. Librarians continuously promote the Collection to students when they visit the library and encourage them to read e-picturebooks at home and with their family. Another way of promotion happens during the school’s book club meetings whose members are nine years old students. Sometimes, they get to read e-picturebook instead of reading printed picturebook. At first, students are usually a little bemused when they have to turn the pages by scrolling a computer mouse-wheel or by clicking forward and backward arrows shown on the screen but overall it is an interesting new experience for them.

Using the Digital collection of students' picturebooks with younger students aims to familiarize students with new media and encourage them to use new media, to read on new media and to read in general as well as to experiment with creating their own picturebooks or other creative works.

The Collection is occasionally promoted to students from other schools, in other libraries, in local media and during relevant manifestations.

So far the project was presented in relevant journals and at conferences in Croatia as well as abroad. At the international conference “Libraries in the Digital Age” in 2006 the project was awarded as „Best professional poster“ thus honoring our ideas and efforts in making the library a true promoter of digital literacy and competence.


Author: Ana Sudarević, Elementary School Dubovac, Karlovac, Croatia

Mail:  knjiznica.dubovac@gmail.com