Monday, September 20, 2010

Who's Reading Our Ebooks?

In a 2008 Global Student E-book Survey sponsored by ebrary (provider of most of our ebooks) Allen McKiel observed that the transition from books to ebooks is not as smooth as it was for the transition from journals to e-journals. While ebooks were ranked among the five most trustworthy resources (second only to print books), they “threaten the loss of something approximating the loss of a personal friend.” Nevertheless, the study showed that trustworthiness was not the primary determinant for student use of resources. When push comes to shove, “students will use whatever information resource most efficiently gets the assignment done.” (In other words, Google still wins.)

When asked how often they would opt to use the electronic version over the print version of a book, 51% said they would often choose the ebook and 32% said they sometimes would. This matched almost exactly the faculty responses to the same questionnaire a year prior. There is a preference for print when reading an entire work, but for electronic versions for searching through a text.

In 2002 the Darling Library purchased our first ebooks - a small collection of electronic reference works that are perfect candidates for keyword searching, and they could be read by multiple users at the same time. By May 2004 students could CLICK HERE to check out 5,325 Electronic Books from the library's catalog – and now we have nearly ten times that many.

But having them is not the important thing – using them is. The library does not seek to have the latest technology, but to serve the information needs of the Hope community.

In the first year, our ebooks were accessed only 37 times (and many of those were probably librarians testing out the resource.) Last year 2,395 user sessions were logged with our 52,408 ebooks.

Of course, we don’t need a scientific study to tell us that the more ebooks a library has, the more user sessions they're likely to have. Odds are that a user will run across one and curiously CLICK HERE to see what that’s all about. But the technology for access and usability has improved as well. You don't have to download special software to read these ebooks; you can search, create My Bookshelves, highlight and make notes in the margins and many other value-added features. And the acceptance of ebooks has increased among the general public in the past year, making ebooks seem less foreign.

The five most popular subjects among Hope ebook users are 1) Psychology/Medicine, 2) Religion, 3) Social Sciences, 4) Business, Economics, & Management, and 5) Education, in that order.

McKiel, Allen W. (2008) 2008 Global Student E-book Survey. Retrieved from

1 comment:

Robin Hartman said...

By the way, thanks, Tiffany, for posing for our picture!