Materials are available in an increasing range of formats. There are four main groups:
- printed materials
- display materials
- electronic materials.
Information is also communicated in a variety of other ways.
Printed materials (including Braille materials) are produced by a printing press, computer printer, or photocopier. They include: books, educational pamphlets, government guidelines, handouts, newsletters, organisational reports and other documents, resource lists, research reports, study guides and training materials.
Display materials can be shown without the use of equipment such as a projector. They include: biological specimens, flipchart displays, magnetic or chalkboard displays, photographs, posters, models, flannelgraphs and wallcharts.
Audiovisual materials need equipment to be used. They include: audio cassettes, overhead projector transparencies (OHPs), slides and videos.
Electronic materials need a computer to be shown or used. They include computer-assisted learning (CAL) materials, CD-ROM, interactive video discs, and information available via e-mail and the Internet.
Other ways of communicating information include:
- conversations with colleagues
- contact with individuals or groups around similar subject interests - this is often called networking.
In many settings, these less formal methods of communication are the primary way in which information is communicated. Integrating less formal methods of communication into the work of a resource centre can often improve its use and its impact.