Are They Ready to Make the Switch?
The WSU Libraries Survey on Electronic and Print Collections
The WSU Libraries Survey on Electronic and Print Collections was conducted in March 2003 by the Department of Collection Development. Two similar online survey instruments were created in FrontPage: 1) Faculty, Staff, and Graduate Assistant survey and 2) Student survey. (Some of the questions on the Faculty/Staff survey instrument were considered relevant to the teaching and research needs of Graduate Assistants so they were encouraged to fill out the Faculty survey instead of the general Student survey.) The survey forms were submitted to the University's Institutional Research Board for approval prior to distribution.
Links to both survey forms were posted on the WSU Libraries' main home page. PDF and HTML versions of each form were available to users. Signs were placed at all workstations in the library and emails were sent to all faculty and staff encouraging participation. During a two week period, there were were 381 surveys filled out by 174 faculty, 103 graduate students, 45 undergraduate students, 38 staff, and other. All forms were filled out online except for two. For detailed demographic information on the respondents, click here.
When the online survey forms were submitted by respondents, the responses were automatically posted to a text-file in FrontPage and to an email message to the departmental Administrative Specialist. The text file was converted to an Excel spreadsheet and the data sorted and distributed to subject librarians for use during the 2003 journals cancellation project. In the fall of 2004, the survey data was uploaded into SPSS 12.0 for Windows for more in-depth analysis. The resultant tables and figures were copied into FrontPage and a Web page created for the survey results at http://library.wichita.edu/colldev/onlinesurvey2003/index.htm.
Conclusions & Recommendations
- The WSU community is not ready for a blanket “switch” to electronic access. Overall, there is strong support for both print and online journals and print books, less for electronic books, among all user groups. However, the level of support for either electronic or print varies according to the academic status and major or discipline of the respondents. Users in some disciplines were more ready than others to make the switch from print to electronic. Any switch to electronic format should be “localized” according to discipline and user group.
- The relatively high number of “undecided” responses to several questions indicates that many users were unwilling to commit one way or the other to electronic or print access. An effort should be made in future surveys to focus on data that might help shed light on "undecided" responses to certain questions. Do those responses reflect problems with access or lack of exposure to materials in a particular format or simply an ambivalence toward losing materials in a "tried and true" format?
- With the increasing availability of electronic books and journals and the use of electronic materials by WSU faculty, staff, and students, preferences and usage patterns may change over time. Follow-up surveys on a biannual basis are recommended to track any changes in preferences regarding electronic and print resources among user groups. It is also important to increase the number of respondents -- especially among the student population -- to better assess the significance of the results.
- It is recommended that the next survey be conducted in Fall 2005. Click here for a proposed revision of the survey instrument.
- Results from this survey as well as future surveys will help assess the ongoing relevance and need of the WSU community for print and electronic collections and for the tools needed to locate and access those collections. Results from the 2003 survey have already been used by WSU librarians and departmental faculty to help make decisions about access to serial collections. Raw data was distributed to academic departments during the most recent serials cancellation project and was used to inform decisions to switch journal packages and individual titles from print to online only and/or to reduce book budgets to cover print subscriptions. Based partly on positive survey results, WSU Libraries recently implemented Infotrieve, an unmediated document delivery service, for faculty.
Alan, R. & Butkovich, N. (2003). Libraries in transition: Impact of print and electronic journal access. Against the Grain, 15 (2), 32, 34.
Bancroft, A., Croft, V., Speth, R., & Phillips, D. (1998). A forward-looking library use survey: WSU Libraries in the 21st century. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 24 (3), 216-223.
Belefant-Miller, H. & King, D. W. (2001). How, what, and why science faculty read. Science and Technology Libraries, 19 (2), 91-112.
Berger, K. & Hines, R. (1994). What does the user really want? The Library User Survey Project at Duke University. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 20 (5-6), 306-309.
Black, S. (2005). Impact of full text on print journal use at a liberal arts college. Library Resources & Technical Services, 49 (1), 19-26.
Bombeld, M., Brown, E. & Shay, L. (2004). Developing and administering a journal use and preference survey: Lessons learned. Serials Review, 30 (3), 206-213.
Boyce, P., King, D. Montgomery,C., & Tenopir, C. (2003) Library economic metrics: Examples of the comparison of electronic and print. Journal Collections and Collection Services, 51 (3), 376-400.
Brown, C. M. (1999). Information seeking behavior of scientists in the electronic information age: Astronomers, chemists, mathematicians, and physicists. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 50 (10), 929-943.
Chrzastowski, T. E. (2004). Rejoinder: Transition from print to electronic serials. (Letters to the editor). Journal of the American Society for Information science and Technology, 55 (4), 370-371.
Chrzastowski, T. E. (2003). Making the transition from print to electronic serial collections: A new model for academic chemistry libraries? Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 54 (12), 1141-1148.
Cochenour, D. & Moothart, T. (2003) E-journal acceptance at Colorado State University: A case study. Serials Review, 29 (1), 16-25.
Davis, P. M. (2004). Transfer from print to electronic serials. (Letters to the editor). Journal of the American Society for Information science and Technology, 55 (4), 369-370.
Dess, H. M. (1997). Gauging faculty utilization of science Journals: A defensive strategy for a lean budget era. Chemical Librarianship: Challenges and Opportunities, 16 3/4), 171-190.
Dievko, J. & Gottlieb, L. (2002). Print sources in an electronic age: A vital part of the research process for undergraduate students, Journal of Academic Librarianship, 28 (6): 381-392.
Fialkoff, F. (2003). Too soon to ditch print. (Inside track). Library Journal, 28 (9), 71.
Gardner, S. & Markley, S. B. (2003). Conducting serials surveys: Common mistakes and recommended approaches. The Serials Librarian, 44 (34), 163-170.
Gardner S. (2001). The impact of electronic journals on library staff at ARL member institutions: A survey and a critique of the survey methodology. Serials Review, 27 (3/4). 17-32.
Johnson, Q. (2004). User preferences in formats of print and electronic journals. Collection Building, 23 (2), 73-77.
Maughan, P. (1999). Library resources and services: A cross-disciplinary survey of faculty and graduate student use and satisfaction. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 25 (5), 354-366.
Orsdel, L. V. & Born, K. (2002). Doing the digital flip (42nd Annual Report, Periodical Price Survey). Library Journal 127 (7): 51-56.
Palmer, J. & Sandler, M. (2003).What do faculty want? Library Journal, 128 (1): 26-28.
Quigley, J. Peck, D. Rutter, S. & Williams, E. (2002). Making choices: Factors in the selection of information resources among science faculty at the University of Michigan Results of a Survey Conducted July-September, 2000. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Spring. [On-line serial). Available: http://www.istl.org/02-spring/refereed.html.
Rowse, M. (2003). Hybrid environment: Electronic-only versus print retention. Against the Grain, 15 (2), 24, 26, 28.
Rupp-Serrano, K., Robbins, S., and Cain, D. (2002). Canceling print serials in favor of electronic: Criteria for decision making. Library Collections, Acquisitions, & Technical Services, 26 (4), 369-378.
Siebenberg, T., Galbraith, B., & Brady, E. (2004). Print versus electronic journal use in three sci/tech disciplines. College and Research Libraries, 65 (5): 427-438.
Sprague, N., & Chambers, M. B. (2000). Full-text databases and the journal cancellation process: A case study. Serials Review, 26 (3), 19-31.
Talja, S. & Hanni, M. (2003). Reasons for the use and non-use of electronic journals and databases: A domain analytic study in four scholarly disciplines. Journal of Documentation, 59 (6): 673-691.
Tenopir, C. (2003). Use and users of electronic library resources: An overview and analysis of recent research studies. Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources.
Tenopir, C. & King, D. W. (2002). Reading behaviour and electronic journals. Learned Publishing, 15(4), 259-265.
Vaughan, K.T.L. (2003). Changing use patterns of print journals in the digital age: Impacts of electronic equivalents on print chemistry journal use. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 54 (12): 1149-1152
Weingart, S. J., & Anderson, J. A. (2000). When questions are answers: Using a survey to achieve faculty awareness of the library’s electronic resources. College and Research Libraries, 61 (2), 127-134.