Thursday, May 4, 2017

E-books: Are We on the Same Page?

Ogden, Kaylene

Bozarth, S., & Zhong, Y. (2016). E-books: Are we on the same page?. Journal Of Electronic Resources Librarianship, 28(4), 232-253

EBooks are increasingly popular throughout all types of libraries. In order to effectively include eBooks in an academic library's collection, it is important that the library first determine students wants and needs so that the library does not spend its budget frivolously.  
For this study, a survey of students, staff and faculty was sent out, with a response of 630, the majority of which were student responses.  Demographic data was also gathered.  The study found that 62% of students had read an eBook compared to 84% of faculty, with the most common use of eBooks for students being personal, class assignment, and required text.  48% of students found eBooks through and internet search, compared to only 23% who used the library catalog.  Across all three categories, most respondents learned about the eBook collection from the survey itself, followed secondly by an instructor or librarian.  Use of eBooks was overwhelmingly done through Amazon.  The most common reasons for using eBooks were 24/7 access, extra features such as highlighting, price, and ability to search within the books.  In comparison to print, students were more likely to prefer print for required texts and digital for research.  While many respondents were not aware of the eBook collection, faculty said they were more likely to recommend eBooks to be purchased.  A major takeaway from this study is that the library's eBook collection needs better marketing.
This article is a great example of how important it is to do research on current and potential users when trying to develop a collection.  A huge part of collection development is marketing, that means both knowing your market (the students, faculty, and staff) and promoting to them as well.  The findings about what kind of eBooks students and staff are most interested in will be useful for this particular library's collection.  It may have been more prudent to start this kind of "market research" before purchasing eBooks, in order to use the library's budget more effectively.  This research can't be generalized, but the idea is a great one that can be used by school, public, and academic libraries alike when deciding what sort of eBook collection to develop (or if they are going to develop one).  

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