Ohio State libraries are conducting a study on the popularity of electronic books among library patrons.

“Preliminary statistics show that our users are more likely to use an item electronically, rather than wait a few days,” said Marsha Hamilton, associate professor at OSU, who is overseeing this study.

The overarching goal of this study is to make resources as available as necessary at the lowest cost.

Hamilton said that the library is changing and needs to meet the needs of professional, graduate and undergraduate students.

“Undergraduate students are in their comfort zone when reading electronically rather than waiting or walking to a library to pick it up,” Hamilton said.

E-books have many advantages when compared to traditional paper books. For example, they do no take up any shelf space and can be accessed through the internet anywhere at any time.

Scott Boone, a fourth-year in psychology, uses e-books to study.
“You can quote from them easier,” Boone said.

Despite the easy access to e-books, not all students prefer to use them.

“I would choose a normal book because I don’t like staring at a computer screen for a long period of time,” said Emily Guzzo, a fourth-year in nutrition.

This study will follow patrons’ uses of e-books to find what resources patrons would naturally select for themselves. Library staff can then track these student-selected resources to see if they will be used more than faculty-recommended books.

Preliminarily, Hamilton thinks the circulation of these student-selected books will be higher.

“If one student finds this resource helpful, it is more likely that another one will,” said Hamilton.

This study is being conducted by adding 43,000 e-books to the 10,000 e-books already in the library system. These e-books were added to the system Jan. 18 and will be in the system until Feb. 24. If these new e-books get enough interactions, it will trigger that resource for potential purchase.

This test is being implemented through the e-book vendor ebrary.com. They wanted to see what books are popularly being used by OSU library patrons. This study is for research purposes only and OSU will not be purchasing books at this time.

OSU did a pilot test like this previously, adding 16,000 e-books to their inventory for 37 days. Out of those 16,000, 450 books were triggered for purchase.

A resource is triggered by 10 or more interactions. Reading, downloading and printing pages are each considered interactions.
The results of this study will not be available until after the study and will be released in an article by Hamilton and a team of researchers.