New EDUCAUSE Study Shows Use Of Library Resources Increased

The EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) made available its 2005 study on students and information technology. The primary findings relate to students’ preferences for the use of technology in their courses, and their is some good information about the impact of course management systems. While use of library resources is a lesser aspect of the study there is some data offered that I believe provides some cause for optimism among academic librarians.

While student use of the Internet to support coursework (again, no real way of knowing what “Internet” means for our students) is nearly universal at 98% reporting it, use of library resources to complete a course assignment comes in at a healthy 88%. Maybe the Internet is not eating our lunch after all. However, I would think the difference between freshman (86%) and seniors (89%) would be more significant owing to library instruction that occurs during the course of their education. Clearly we have more work to do.

Increases from 2004 in both the use of library resources for assignments (up 4%) and weekly hours spent using library resources (up 5.2% – but the majority report using library resources less than one hour per week overall in 2005) are a cause for optimism, and suggest that academic librarians’ efforts to promote user education and faculty collaboration may in fact be having a positive impact on student research. The report provides some concrete evidence to counter numerous mass media reports that students simply consult Internet search engines when doing their research. They may prefer to consult the Internet search engines first (anecdotal evidence only – not a part of the report), but they clearly do not use those resources exclusively.

One thought on “New EDUCAUSE Study Shows Use Of Library Resources Increased”

  1. Steven wrote: “I would think the difference between freshman (86%) and seniors (89%) would be more significant owing to library instruction that occurs during the course of their education.” Well… maybe. Or, given that the empirical studies that we have (limited) seem to indicate that instruction in academic libraries is still heavily focused on the first-year (and I suspect the first-semester), it could be that the freshman number is showing the success of the first year programs (or that the freshman just had their instruction – can’t quite tell on a browse through this report WHEN in the freshman year the survey was done) and that if we compared (somehow!) high school senior college bound and college senior we would see more significant differences.

    I think there is some good food for thought here. Exactly how many hours per week do we think a student SHOULD spend using library resources for classes? The factors analysis of library use is interesting too – #1 factor is social sciences … is this reflective of collections accessible to undergraduates? So many questions to think about … and ask our own students!

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