Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Does this headline really not surprise anyone?

Electronic Resource Usage from Off-Campus Locations Soars According to Latest MINES for Libraries® Study

True, it is further evidence of this trend that most librarians had known of, but I hate to say that my first reaction was, "Gee, you think so?".  Specifically, they report that while off-campus use was about 45% of responses in 2004-2005, such use rose to 68% in 2010-2011.  They do provide a few caveats, notably that the two surveys were using two different systems (a locally-developed portal in 2004/5 and SFX in 2010/11).  This could easily account for at least some of the difference (how much would require extensive understanding of both systems).  But I agree with the authors that the results reflect reality.

That being said, what does this mean?  Is this good or not-so-good for libraries?  I think most e-resource librarians would agree that it's good - use is use, and the more opportunities to increase that usage, the better.  Does it mean fewer people are going to the libraries?  Comparisons with gate-count trends could help with that.

Now, what does it mean for our community?  Is our user community expanding?  Or are they distributed much like the usage of our books - a Bradford-type distribution with a few heavy users followed by a lot of casual users?  I wonder how they are benefiting from the use of these resources?  Are they using them effectively?  I wonder if they are getting jobs, good grades, learning new ideas, changing their outlooks?

"O so many things for me to wonder"

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