Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Use of e-books survey

Thank you so much to those of you who completed my recent survey on your use of e-books!

The survey was sent to NST 1B Animal Biology, Cell & Developmental Biology, and Ecology students, and Part II Zoology, Neuroscience and BBS students. I received a brilliant 92 responses and students’ comments have been very interesting and useful to read.  I thought you might like a summary of the results, please find this below.

I feel that the survey results demonstrate an interest among students in using e-books, and in some cases a preference. However, there is a long way to go in making e-books easier to use, and promoting them and the benefits of using them to students.

To help you use e-books, remember that there is now the opportunity to attend a lunchtime e-books drop in session, which I emailed you all about via CamTools last week, please see also here http://www.balfourlibrary.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/ebooks-lunchtime-drop-in-sessions.html. Additional sessions will probably be advertised in future.

To find out more about the e-books available to you please visit the ebooks@cambridge website here: http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/ebooks/. In the Zoology Library we put bright yellow stickers on the cover of printed books that are also available as e-books. Alternatively, one of the easiest ways to see if a book you are interested in is available as an e-book, is to search for it on the library catalogues (Newton or LibrarySearch). If there is an e-book available, you will automatically see in your list of results an entry for the book with the phrase [electronic resource] next to it. Follow the links provided from there to access the e-book.

Along with actually purchasing e-books, I hope that this all goes some way to addressing some of the issues raised in comments in the survey results.

Many thanks again.

How often do you use e-books?

Never 40%
Rarely 17%
Sometimes 23%
Often 16%
Always 3%

Do you think the Zoology Library should continue to use e-books?

Yes, it’s nice to have the choice but printed books should take priority 64%
Yes, I prefer to use e-books rather than printed ones 16%
No, I prefer to use printed books only 9%
Other – please specify 8%
N/A 3%

Do you use any of the following devices to read e-books on-screen? (Click on all that apply)

Desktop computer 17%
Laptop computer 67%
Kindle or other e-reader 7%
iPad or other tablet 8%
Smartphone 12%
I don’t usually read e-books on screen, I prefer to print off what I read 10%
I don’t use any of these to read e-books 5%
N/A 20%

Summary of comments received about why students use or don’t use e-books, and whether the Zoology Library should be purchasing them:

Many students don’t appear to be aware of the existence of the e-books available to them in the university.

Students appreciate the convenience of e-books – the ability to search e-books, the fact that they are available away from the library and Cambridge, and when printed copies aren’t available in the library, as well as the fact that they don’t need to physically go to the library or carry heavy books, and there are no loan periods as such.

Many students dislike reading on-screen and prefer to print off what they need and read that, e.g. an e-book chapter, as they find it easier to read than printed ones which they prefer to read for longer periods of time.

Some students find e-books inconvenient – not easy to use in terms of bookmarking, navigating between chapters or screens when using Word for example, screen size restrictions, causing of eye strain, being distracted by the web while using e-books (!), finding it difficult or being unable to use several e-books at once.

Some students commented that the books they need aren’t available as e-books.

One dyslexic student felt that e-books were difficult to navigate text and read them generally.

One visually impaired student appreciated the ability with e-books to increase font size.

Some students like the idea of using Kindles to read e-books but don’t always know how.

The Zoology Library should buy e-books, but the purchase of printed books should take priority.

E-books are an invaluable resource for the library to have, especially for access away from Cambridge or immediately after a lecture when everybody needs the same book(s) at the same time.