C&RL Spotlight

Scott Walter

“[The] digital apocalypse never arrived, or at least not on schedule.”1 This bit of good news came to us in late 2015 from a New York Times story on unexpected changes in the e-book market. While the Times painted something of an “either/or” picture of changes in reading habits, and noted only some of the possible factors influencing individual choices in reading medium (e.g., the differences in price between print and electronic books that we know become even more extreme when discussing purchases for individual libraries or, worse, consortia), the conclusion that early e-book enthusiasts were becoming “hybrid readers” rang true.2

What the Times did not provide, of course, were clear guidelines for librarians faced with balancing demands for print and digital content in managing collections dollars. Steven A. Knowlton (University of Memphis) takes a step in that direction with his study of relative use of e-books and print books, in which he documents a two-step method by which librarians can assess the appeal of books in various formats, and consider the degree to which adoption of one medium over another may be proceeding at different paces in different disciplines.

This and other articles appearing in the January issue include:

  • Le Yang. “Metadata Effectiveness in Internet Discovery: An Analysis of Digital Collection Metadata Elements and Internet Search Engine Keywords.” Abstract: This study analyzed digital item metadata and keywords from Internet search engines to learn what metadata elements actually facilitate discovery of digital collections through Internet keyword searching and how significantly each metadata element affects the discovery of items in a digital repository. The study found that keywords from Internet search engines matched values in eight metadata elements and resulted in landing visits to the digital repository. Findings of the study indicate that three specific metadata elements are effective in enhancing discoverability of digital collections through Internet search engines, including Dublin Core metadata elements title, description, and subject.
  • Steven A. Knowlton. “A Two-Step Model for Assessing Relative Interest in E-books Compared to Print.” Abstract: Librarians often wish to know whether readers in a particular discipline favor e-books or print books. Because print circulation and e-book usage statistics are not directly comparable, it can be hard to determine the relative interest of readers in the two types of books. This study demonstrates a two-step method by which librarians can assess the appeal of books in various formats. First, a nominal assessment of use or nonuse is performed; this eliminates the difficulty of comparing print circulation to e-book usage statistics. Then, the comparison of actual use to Percentage of Expected Use (PEU) is made. By examining the distance between PEU of e-books to PEU of print books in a discipline, librarians can determine whether patrons have a strong preference for one format over another.
  • Kaya van Beynen and Camielle Swenson. “Exploring Peer-to-Peer Library Content and Engagement on a Student-Run Facebook Group.” Abstract: Library outreach on a student-run Facebook group is manageable and can complement in-house marketing and reference efforts. A university student-run Facebook group was systematically monitored for a year to measure library content and types of engagement. When conducting outreach on similar student Facebook groups, we suggest that library employees strategically focus on key periods during the semester, and use photographs and contests to increase engagement. Students used the Facebook group both as a source for library information and to thoroughly answer their peers’ general library questions. When confronted with more research-based questions, the students referred each other to the library for help. Student-run Facebook groups offer librarians a new means of interacting with students in their native digital domain. Facebook groups, a service launched in 2010, enables university students to create a virtual forum to discuss their concerns, issues, and highlight events going on in their community.1 While still a relatively new feature, student-run Facebook groups are increasingly being used by students in universities and colleges throughout North America. Little research has been done on these groups and how they may be changing the way that students interact with each other and with their university on social media. In this article, we investigate a student-run Facebook group called the USFSP Know It All Guide to Knowing It All at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg to measure student interest, engagement, and comments about the library. The purpose of this research is to systematically explore whether outreach to these new virtual forums are of value to librarians in term of effort and outcome, and to provide research-based insight into the best practices for librarians when confronted with similar unofficial student-run Facebook groups.
  • Michael Khoo, Lily Rozaklis, Catherine Hall, and Diana Kusunoki. “‘A Really Nice Spot’: Evaluating Place, Space and Technology in Academic Libraries.” Abstract: This article describes a qualitative mixed-method study of students’ perceptions of place and space in an academic library. The approach is informed by Scott Bennett’s model of library design, which posits a shift from a “book-centered” to a technology-supported “learning centered” paradigm of library space. Two surveys gathered data on students’ perceptions of places in an academic library, and on occupancy rates in the same library. When triangulated, the results identified two distinct and contrasting models of place: a more traditional model based on individual study near stacks of books, and an emergent technologically supported group study model. The results suggest that academic libraries should develop new metrics to measure library place and space in settings of technologically-supported group work.
  • Quinn Galbraith, Leanna Fry, and Melissa Garrison. “The Impact of Faculty Status and Gender on Employee Well-being in Academic Libraries.” Abstract: This study measures job satisfaction, personal fulfillment, work/life balance, and stress levels of male and female librarians. Researchers surveyed 719 librarians at ARL institutions that either offer faculty status and tenure or offer neither. Females at libraries offering faculty status indicated poor work/life balance and high levels of stress compared to male colleagues and female librarians without faculty status; however, their reported job satisfaction was similar. Possible implications of the results are discussed.
  • Emily Rimland and Victoria Raish. “Employer Perceptions of Critical Information Literacy Skills and Digital Badges.” Abstract: Digital badges are an educational innovation used to measure learning of specific skills, such as information literacy. However, few studies have quantitatively surveyed employers for their perceptions about information literacy skills or digital badges. An online survey was developed and sent to employers to gauge perceptions of information literacy skills of college graduates and the use of the innovation of digital badges to represent competencies that students have accumulated. Here are the results of the survey: information literacy and metaliteracy skills are valued in the workplace, employers would like more detailed representations of student skills, and digital badges are a possible way to showcase student achievement.
  • Vince Graziano. “LGBTQ Collection Assessment: Library Ownership of Resources Cited by Master’s Students.” Abstract: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Studies and the broader discipline of sexuality studies are multidisciplinary fields that require a different approach to collection development in academic libraries. Many library collections budgets reflect the traditional divisions by academic department, and multidisciplinary fields often transcend these conventional boundaries. The concept of one selector for one department, while being a well-established and practical approach to collection building, is limited in breadth and scope and is not necessarily suitable for multidisciplinary fields. This study uses citation analysis to assess the LGBTQ collection at Concordia University Libraries, to ascertain collection strengths and weaknesses, and to recommend collaborative collection development as a viable method of building an excellent collection in a multidisciplinary subject area.

Special issue on Assessment in Action

As this goes to press, final revisions are being made to the seven case studies being featured in our March 2016 special issue on the ACRL Assessment in Action (www.ala.org/acrl/AiA) program. With reports on action research conducted at institutions, including Anne Arundel Community College, Grinnell College, Utah State University, and others, this special issue brings together highlights from early AiA participants and demonstrates the potential that our association has for bringing together colleagues from around the world in support of a shared research agenda.

Online Forum on student success rescheduled

As the 600+ of you who registered for the Online Forum on student success originally scheduled for October 28, 2015, already know, technical problems with our delivery platform kept us from providing that event. Owing to the extraordinary interest that C&RL readers have in the subject, we have arranged to record a session with some of the authors of the original studies and will be making that session available to you as an asynchronous Forum program. Please watch the C&RL accounts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement when the recording is available.

Our next C&RL Online Forum will take place in the spring as part of the release of the March 2016 special issue on the Assessment in Action program. Stay tuned to the same social media outlets for the announcement of the date and time for this special Forum.

1. Alter, A. , “The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead,”. The New York Times (September.23. , 2015 ), accessed November 30, 2015, www.nytimes.com/2015/09/23/business/media/the-plot-twist-e-book-sales-slip-and-print-is-far-from-dead.html.
2. “Hybrid reader” seems an unfortunate term to employ to identify people who choose to read content without concern for medium. Perhaps “holistic reader” is better?
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