Anda di halaman 1dari 14

The Journal of Academic Librarianship xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

The Journal of Academic Librarianship

journal homepage:

When Librarians Hit the Books: Uses of and Attitudes Toward E-Books

Katherine Hanz , Dawn McKinnon
McGill University Library, 3459 McTavish Street, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 0C9


Keywords: Librarians offer a unique perspective on e-books: on one hand they collect these resources and train users as part
E-books of their jobs, while on the other hand, they may be users of e-books themselves. With recent increases in research
Canadian academic librarians expectations for Canadian academic librarians, this study aimed to discover: when librarians do research, do
Librarians as researchers they use e-books and how often are they using them? This study examines the results of a survey of 392 academic
librarians from across Canada. The survey generated data on librarians' use of, and attitudes towards, e-books.
While a number of studies examine the use and opinions of e-books among other user groups, this study ex-
amines how librarians search for or use e-books differently than other user groups. Results will help librarians to
improve their liaison work and make more informed collection development decisions at their own institutions.

Introduction for their research, by default the Library purchases e-books for them.
Print is purchased only when e-books are unavailable or when re-
McGill University is a large research university with approximately searchers specify a preference for print.
33,000 students, including undergraduates, graduates, doctoral and Librarians have a unique perspective on e-books. As P. Jacobs and
post doc students, and medical residents (McGill University, 2016). The Bergart (2014) suggest in their examination of the “e-book ecosystem,”
McGill Library is comprised of eight branches on its downtown campus librarians are involved in many stages of the “life cycle” of an e-book
and one branch at its suburban campus. Like many academic libraries in including: selection and acquisition, budgeting, electronic resources
North America, it has been facing significant space constraints in the management, discovery, user experience, preservation, interlibrary
past decade. For various reasons, including several branch mergers and loan, teaching and learning, promotion and communications, mon-
a growing student population that requires more material than ever itoring and assessment. As researchers, they are users of these resources
before, the stacks are overcrowded. In some subject areas, particularly as well. With that in mind, this study sets out to answer the questions:
in science and engineering, theft of the print textbook collections is also
a major concern. These were some of the factors that resulted in the • When librarians do research, do they use e-books and how often are
Library's transition to “e-preferred” for English-language monographs they using them?
in 2011: books selected individually and arriving via approval plans • Do librarians search for or use e-books differently than other user
were ordered in the e-book format rather than in print whenever pos- groups?
sible. Purchasing e-books aimed to reduce the burden in the stacks by • How do librarians feel about using e-books?
reducing the number of volumes added each year. Additionally, pur-
chasing e-books offers one solution to the theft of physical books. Using a survey on e-book use and attitudes developed by Corlett-
In 2017, the number of electronic documents surpassed the Library's Rivera and Hackman (2014) as a guide, the authors created an online
print volumes, providing access to over 2.5 million e-books. Over time, survey tailored to Canadian academic librarians working in English-
many liaison librarians up-skilled on how to use the ever-changing e- speaking institutions. Corlett-Rivera and Hackman's well-design survey
book platforms, and many now include e-book demonstrations in their asked questions about how patrons were using e-books while con-
information literacy workshops. Faculties are encouraged to use e- ducting research and when reading recreationally, providing an ex-
books for course material, although print copies are also still purchased cellent snapshot of a user group. While their study surveyed students
by the Library to support teaching and learning. and faculty in humanities, social sciences, and education at the Uni-
McGill University professors and librarians are academic staff and versity of Maryland, this study focused on academic librarians. As
are required to do research to attain tenure. When they request books academic librarians are entrenched in the e-book world, asking

Corresponding author at: Humanities & Social Sciences Library, McGill University, 3459 McTavish Street, Montreal, QC H3A 0C9, Canada.
E-mail address: (K. Hanz).
Received 18 August 2017; Received in revised form 15 December 2017; Accepted 18 December 2017
0099-1333/ © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Please cite this article as: Hanz, K., The Journal of Academic Librarianship (2017),
K. Hanz, D. McKinnon The Journal of Academic Librarianship xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

librarians the same questions seemed pertinent and timely. This paper preferences and concerns in the ebrary survey, it is possible that there is
discusses the results of that survey, answers the research questions a similar disconnect in the LibraryJournal responses.
above, and provides implications for liaison work and collection de- Librarians have also conducted a number of surveys that examine
velopment decisions. user experience with and attitudes towards e-books. As libraries con-
tinue to purchase e-books, librarians are eager to know how faculty and
Literature review students use e-books, and also how they feel about using these re-
sources. Michael Levine-Clark conducted three surveys between 2005
Recent years have seen a considerable increase in the purchase of e- and 2015 to track patterns of e-book usage and attitudes towards using
books by academic libraries, and with this has come an emergence of e-books at the University of Denver. While his 2005 survey of over 2000
literature on the topic. As this survey examines user experiences, atti- participants found that 60% of respondents preferred print (Levine-
tude and preferences, it is important to understand the literature that Clark, 2006), the subsequent surveys show a move towards a preference
already exists on this topic. So much has been written on e-books in the for electronic. However, he pointed out that this preference depends on
last few years, that Corlett-Rivera and Hackman (2014) suggest “it can who the patrons are and how the material is being used. In 2015 he
be difficult to achieve an understanding of the current state of e-books concluded that libraries cannot expect to adequately serve patrons by
in the academic library” (p. 257). This was not always the case, as re- relying on a single format for books (Levine-Clark, 2015).
flected in papers published just several years prior. Shelburne (2009) Recognizing that different patron groups may have unique per-
suggest a gap in the literature on users' awareness of and attitudes to- spectives, some researchers have focused their studies on particular
wards using e-books. Two years later, Shrimplin, Revelle, Hurst, and populations. Studies by Gregory (2008), Mizrachi (2015), Olney-Zide
Messner (2011) describe the literature on patron perceptions of e-books and Eiford (2015), and Hobbs and Klare (2016) focus specifically on
as “modest,” due to a lack of regular usage of e-books by library pa- undergraduate use of e-books. All of the studies suggest problems with,
trons. However, just around the same time, the e-book was about to or limitations to, e-book use. After conducting a survey questionnaire of
make a significant emergence. Becker (2015) refers to 2010 as “Year undergraduates at the College of Mount St. Joseph, Gregory (2008)
Zero” for e-books, as the first iPad arrived in 2010, which brought e- found that students have mixed feelings about e-books—they will use
books into the mainstream, and Amazon reported e-books sales ex- the e-format, but still have a preference for print. After analyzing the
ceeded print sales. It is not surprising that since 2010, a host of studies results of an Academic Reading Questionnaire, completed by approxi-
have emerged examining how various user groups from a variety of mately 400 students at the University of California, Mizrachi (2015)
settings use e-books. had similar findings: when using books for learning purposes, students
Like the authors' institution, many other academic libraries have showed a preference for print over e-books, but their usage behavior
become ‘e-preferred’. This preference for collecting e-books over print was mitigated by other factors, such as cost and accessibility. As in the
books has been fueled by a number of perceived advantages from both other studies, Olney-Zide and Eiford (2015) reported that generally
the library and the user perspective, including the search capability of there were mixed feelings among students. However, 95.9% of their
e-books, lower overhead cost for the library, environmental benefits, survey respondents stated that how quickly they could access a book
and a growing desire to make more shelf-free space to accommodate determined which format they select. Hobbs and Klare (2016) con-
student study areas (Chen-Gaffey & Getsay, 2016; Ward, Freeman, & ducted usability studies and interviews with undergraduate students at
Nixon, 2015). Although e-books are now a major part of academic li- Wesleyan University. They found that while students were using e-
brary collections, the growth of these collections has faced resistance. books more than in the past, they were not adept users of this format.
According to Ward et al. (2015) an “e-book revolution” has been halted, A number of studies focusing on patrons within specific disciplines
in part, because of patrons' preference for print (p. 1). have explored subject-area trends in e-book usage. Camacho and
Patron attitudes, perceptions, and engagement with e-books in Spackman (2010) conducted a survey of Business faculty members at
academic settings have been explored in two separate, large-scale stu- Brigham Young University, and suggested that while faculty are using
dies. From 2007 to 2010, JISC conducted the UK National E-Books e-books, and are increasingly interested in the format due to availability
Observatory Project. Their survey garnered 52,000 responses from and search capability, there are still many issues that need to be re-
students and academics across the UK. Through survey responses, ob- solved. At the time, 61% of the faculty they surveyed still preferred
serving log data, and follow-up focus groups, the study looked at users' print, due in part to ease of reading and portability. Foote and Rupp-
awareness, perceptions and attitudes towards e-books in general, and Serrano (2010) surveyed and conducted focus groups with faculty and
towards course textbooks more specifically. With 64.6% of university graduate students in Geosciences at the University of Oklahoma. Their
students and professors reporting that they used e-books, JISC con- results revealed that while e-books are being used, both faculty mem-
cluded that e-books had entered the mainstream. The report also sug- bers and graduate students have reservations, particularly around ease-
gested the convenience of e-books is at times compromised by technical of-use and the quality of graphics and images in e-books. They also
barriers (JISC Collections, 2009). From 2007 to 2008, ebrary conducted suggested that librarians need to provide more instruction on e-book
an extensive study comprised of three surveys: the 2007 Global Li- use.
brarian e-book survey, the 2007 Global Faculty e-book Survey, and the Corlett-Rivera & Hackman's, 2014 survey of faculty and students in
2008 Global student e-book survey. Rather than asking librarians to the humanities and social sciences at the University of Maryland re-
answer from their own perspective, the survey asked respondents to vealed a huge range of responses regarding attitudes towards e-books.
answer from the students' perspective. The survey revealed a gap in They concluded that students and faculty at the University of Maryland
awareness on the part of librarians for their users' needs or concerns has “by no means reached a consensus” when it comes to e-books, with
(ebrary, 2008a, 2008b). In her review of the ebrary surveys, Ashcroft feelings that ranged from enthusiasm, to hesitation, to “outright hos-
(2011), points out that this gap in understanding makes it impossible tility” (p. 276). A follow-up study looking at STEM vs non-STEM dis-
for librarians to make informed choices about book purchasing. Simi- ciplines at the same institution suggested that their results are not de-
larly, two studies on e-book use in academic libraries conducted by finitive enough to provide a guide for purchasing. While users were
LibraryJournal asked academic librarians to respond on their students' comfortable with e-book versions of conference proceedings, reference
preferences and habits regarding e-book use (“Ebook uage in U.S. materials, and style guides, users remain deeply divided about scholarly
Academic Libraries”, 2012; “Ebook usage in U.S. academic libraries”, monographs, edited collections and literature(Carroll, Corlett-Rivera,
2016). On behalf of their patrons, librarians indicated that patrons were Hackman, & Zou, 2016).
unlikely to be aware of e-book availability and to prefer print. However, Plum and Franklin (2015) echo the lack of consensus revealed in the
just as Ashcroft identifies a gap in librarians' awareness of their patron's University of Maryland studies in their own research, which analyzed

K. Hanz, D. McKinnon The Journal of Academic Librarianship xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

6000 e-book uses from thirteen academic and health sciences research development policies at their own institutions.
libraries between July 2009 and June 2013. While they concluded that
e-books are used differently at academic health sciences libraries than Methodology
at general academic research libraries, they also suggested that the
growth of e-books is not predictable. This study consisted primarily of an online survey created using
LimeSurvey ( The survey included 20
Librarians' Perceptions of e-books questions; however, some were multiple-part questions, for a total of 35
actual questions. Two questions were open-ended, and the remainder
According to Ward et al. (2015), “librarians like e-books because were multiple choice. Six of the multiple choice questions contained an
they solve many of the library's long-term logistical problems, e.g., “other” or “it depends” option, allowing for textual responses that re-
shelving, checking in and out, shelf-reading, and replacing lost or worn sulted in qualitative data in addition to the quantitative data. With the
out volumes. However, users like printed books” (p. 6). While there are exception of the consent question, all questions were optional. Logic
a growing number of studies focusing on the awareness, use, and sa- was added to the survey so that respondents who indicated that they
tisfaction of e-book use within a specific discipline and user population, did not use e-books for recreational purposes would not be asked fur-
there has not been any research that studies librarians as the users of e- ther questions about e-books for recreational purposes. Likewise, re-
books. In 2009, HighWire conducted a Librarian e-book Survey, but spondents who indicated they did not use e-books for research purposes
questions focused on librarians' perceptions of their users rather than skipped over questions related to using e-books when conducting re-
their own preferences. For example, librarians were asked to put search. In these cases, respondents were still asked questions about
themselves in their users' shoes and answer (e.g.) “In which format do what factors would cause them use e-books in the future, if their usage
users generally prefer e-books?”; “What hinders your patrons the most had increased or decreased in the past 3 years, and for feedback as to
in their use of e-book content?” (Newman & Bui, 2010, pp. 11–13). why they do not currently use e-books.
Librarian preferences can also be influenced by collection devel- The bulk of the survey questions asked about librarians' preferences
opment decisions. Several studies have looked at acquisitions of e-books and behavior with using e-books, for both recreational and research
to determine which format costs more, which item will have fewer purposes. For comparison, two questions asked about behavior related
barriers for use, and which format is used by more people. Horner's to using print materials. Two demographic questions were included.
comparison of print books against e-books found that overall, e-books The first asked about primary role/position to learn if there were
were used more often than print books but there were large variations consistencies in preferences or use between job positions. The second
in certain subject areas, and print books were used more substantially. asked about the job status (tenure/tenure-track roles versus contract or
Also, cost per use for the titles in study was lower for print books permanent appointments without tenure), as the authors assume that in
(Horner, 2017). general, librarians in tenure and tenure-track roles may have greater
While scholarly engagement is not required for all librarians, aca- research requirements to fulfill, to investigate if this had a bearing on
demic librarians are increasingly asked to produce their own research, responses to questions related to conducting research.
and it is thus important that we look at librarians as a user group in The survey was distributed by email, using Microsoft's mail merge
their own right. In 2013, a survey of Library administrators at Canadian functionality. Using this feature, every initial email was sent directly to
academic libraries revealed a shift in research and scholarly expecta- the librarians with a salutation of “Dear [name],” as the authors felt the
tions for librarians (Berg, Jacobs, & Cornwall, 2013). In its 2010 pub- personal touch may result in a higher survey response rate. Using the
lication Core Compentencies for 21st Century Librarians, the Canadian mail merge rather than a listserv ensured that the response rate can be
Association of Research Libraries (CARL) lists “Research and Con- accurately calculated. The list of email addresses was initially created
tributions to the Profession” as one of its seven core-competencies, by Joanne Oud, a librarian working at the Laurier Library, Wilfred
stating that all CARL Librarians “should be knowledgeable of, and Laurier University, who generously shared the list she compiled in
commit to, ongoing research and professional development” (p. 9). The October 2016. It was gathered from public websites of English-speaking
Medical Library Association (MLA) and the American Library Associa- academic libraries in Canada, and included Associate University
tion have similar competencies. Producing scholarship is now more Librarians (or equivalent) but not University Librarians. The re-
commonly a condition to employment (promotion, tenure, permanent searchers added to the original list, which included primarily public
status, etc.). The evidence-based librarianship movement calls on li- services librarians, to also include librarians in administrative positions,
brarians to make decisions based on careful assessment. By producing technical services and cataloguing. They also updated email addresses
scholarship, librarians both gain and contribute knowledge to the for librarians who had changed institutions. The final list consisted of
professions (American Library Association, 2009; Canadian Associaiton 1317 entries. One email was undeliverable, making for a sample of
of Research Libraries, 2010; Medical Library Association, 2007). With 1316 academic librarians. The survey was sent out on February 21,
these increased research expectations, there have recently been at- 2017. The body of the first email included an error stating that only
tempts to support librarians in these initiatives. For example, H. L. M. CARL-member institutions should respond, however it was corrected in
Jacobs and Berg (2013) describe the creation of the CARL-sponsored the reminder email that was sent to everyone on the list on March 14,
Librarians Research Institute in 2012: a four-day institute that was 2017. Several librarians from institutions that are not CARL members
conducted to foster a stronger research culture in Canadian Academic emailed the authors directly; they were informed of the error and en-
Libraries by bringing together Canadian librarians interested in devel- couraged to respond to the survey. The survey was active for four weeks
oping their own research programs and working towards fostering a and closed on March 22, 2017.
positive and productive research culture in Canadian academic li- Results were exported from LimeSurvey into Excel for analysis.
braries. Survey questions are included in Appendix A.
The increase in scholarship in Canadian academic librarianship,
combined with the fluctuating world of e-books provides ample op- Results
portunities for research. This study provides insight into the librarian's
perspective on using e-books in a research context. The results will help A total of 392 survey responses were completed, for a response rate
to determine if and how librarian's perspectives differ from other user of 29.94%. There were 66 partial responses that were not included in
groups. Awareness of these differences or similarities will help librar- the results, as well as two who selected “no” to the consent page and
ians relate to other researchers using library resources and may provide exited the survey.
an opportunity for librarians to consider or evaluate collection The first two questions in the survey captured work-related

K. Hanz, D. McKinnon The Journal of Academic Librarianship xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

Table 1
Primary role/position.
Category Count Percentage
Subject specialist/liaison 175 45% 60
Administration 53 14% 40
Other (see below) 29 7% 20
Cataloguing/metadata 21 5% 0
Instructional services 21 5% Daily Weekly Monthly Once a Annually Never
Collection development/acquisitions 20 5% semester
Reference 20 5%
Electronic resources/systems 16 4%
Archives/special collections 10 3%
Scholarly communications 7 2%
Interlibrary loan 5 1% Fig. 1. Number of respondents borrowing physical items, by frequency and purpose.
Web services/development 5 1%
Digital initiatives 4 1%
Table 3
Government documents 3 1%
E-book use, past 3 years.
No response 3 1%
Total 392 100%
E-books for research E-books for recreation

Response Count Percentage Response Count Percentage

demographics. By far, the greatest number of respondents indicated
they were subject specialist or liaison librarians. Table 1 shows the Increased 158 40.7% Increased 117 30.0%
breakdown of responses by primary role or position. Librarians with Stayed the same 199 51.3% Stayed the same 208 53.3%
Decreased 22 5.7% Decreased 64 16.4%
multiple roles had to select their most prominent role. I'm not sure 9 2.3% I'm not sure 1 0.3%
The 29 responses in “Other” option were analyzed and the majority Total 388 100.0% Total 390 100.0%
were clarifications that the respondent was equally a subject specialist/
liaison with another role, such as collection development, administra-
tion, instruction and/or reference. Ten percent of those who selected Table 4
“Other” indicated that they were user experience (UX) librarians, 10% E-readers.
were assessment librarians, and 10% were heads or managers but did
E-reader Number of responses
not consider themselves “administration.” The remainder were a mix of
librarians working in engagement, outreach, copyright, course reserves, I don't own an e-book reader 197
research, and open education. Additionally, several individuals identi- Kobo 88
Other - mobile device 71
fied themselves as recent retirees.
Kindle 55
Sony eReader 13
Other 5
Job status Nook 1

The majority of survey respondents had a permanent job status,

such as tenure, continuing appointments, or permanency. Tenure-track Table 5
librarians represented 18% of those who selected a job status, and li- Resource used most often to find E-books.
brarians on contract represented 9%. Five respondents selected “other”
Type of resource Research purposes Recreational purposes
and two did not respond to this question. See Table 2 below.
Count Percentage Count Percentage

Borrowing physical items Commercial site (for example, 8 2.4% 69 26.9%

Indigo, Kobo, Amazon,
Barnes & Noble)
Physical items are borrowed steadily by librarians for both recrea-
Free web site (for example, 14 4.3% 18 7.0%
tional and research purposes, as indicated in Fig. 1 below. It should be Google Books, HathiTrust,
noted that in the free-text comments from the last question, many re- Project Gutenberg)
spondents remarked that when answering this question, they were in- Public library catalog 2 0.6% 77 29.9%
dicating their borrowing habits at all libraries that they use, not just the University library catalog 293 87.9% 29 11.3%
E-book-specific apps or websites 7 2.1% 51 19.9%
borrowing of physical items from their own academic library. While it
(for example OverDrive,
is a limitation that the authors did not instruct respondents to do so, iBook)
they assumed this would be the case, as many academic libraries do not I don't use e-books 8 2.4% 7 2.7%
have large collections of books for recreational reading (Tables 3–5). Other 1 0.3% 6 2.3%
Total 333 100% 257 100%

Table 2
Job status.
E-books use
Category Count Percentage
For the majority of respondents, e-book usage for both recreational
Tenured 170 43%
and research purposes stayed the same in the past three years.
Permanent appointment without tenure 109 28%
Tenure-track 69 18% Overall, more people used e-books for research purposes and they
On contract 37 9% used e-books more often, compared with people using e-books for re-
Other 5 1% creational purposes. For example, the cumulative totals of people who
No answer 2 1% use e-books once a day, week, month and year was 248 for research
Total 392 100%
purposes compared with 164 for recreational purposes.

K. Hanz, D. McKinnon The Journal of Academic Librarianship xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

Table 6
E-book collections used by respondents.
100 E-book collection Count
60 ebrary 152
40 EBSCO e-Book Collection 147
20 Springer e-Books 92
0 EBL 84
Daily Weekly Monthly Once a Annually Never University Press Scholarship Online/Oxford Handbooks Online/ 78
semester Cambridge Books Online
Frequency Scholars Portal/eBound 68
ProQuest E-book Central 63
Gale Virtual Reference Library 58
ScienceDirect 49
Fig. 2. Number of respondents borrowing E-books, by frequency and purpose.
I've used e-books but I don't know which collections 44
Safari Books Online 40
While 15% of respondents selected that they never use e-books for Other 31
I don't use these 7
research purposes, the percentage more than doubles to 35% for re-
spondents who never use e-books for recreational purposes, as shown in
Fig. 2 below. Reading E-books

Of the total number of librarians who completed this survey, 334 of

E-book reader devices the respondents indicated that they used e-books while conducting re-
search, whereas 258 use them recreationally. When conducting re-
The majority of librarians who responded to the survey do not own search, 83% (276) of librarians indicated that they do not download e-
e-book readers. Of those who do own them, Kobo readers were the most books to designated e-book readers like Kindles or Kobos.
popular. Ninety-four percent of the comments in the “Other” option Approximately half of the respondents indicate that they do download
said they were using mobile devices, including tablets and mobile to computers, laptops or mobile device. Similarly, half indicated that
phones, and numerically mobile devices was the second most popular they read online. About 59% of people who answered this question
method for reading e-books. rarely or never print all or part of an e-book (Tables 7–10).
Respondents could select more than one option, so totals add up to When librarians are using e-books recreationally, 21% of those who
greater than 100%. responded to this question said they always download to an e-book
reader. When expanded, 41% of respondents sometimes, frequently or
always download to e-book readers for recreational use, compared with
Finding E-books only 4% when conducting research. About 70% of people who an-
swered this question sometimes, frequently or always download to a
When searching for e-books for research purposes, respondents used computer or mobile device, but fewer people read online recreationally,
their university's library catalog most often. Conversely, when with 57% selecting that they rarely or never read e-books online for
searching for recreational use, respondents used the public library recreational use. About 91% of respondents said they rarely or never
catalog most often. Note that not all respondents answered questions print e-books used for recreational use.
for both categories. When reading e-books, the majority of librarians read chapters or
Note that the survey logic ensured that respondents who selected portions when conducting research, while when reading for recrea-
that they “never” used e-books for research/recreational purposes (in tional purposes, the majority read the entire book.
previous questions) skipped over the questions related to habits. When selecting a preferred format for different types of resources,
Responses in the “Other” category included using the library's dis- the majority of librarians indicated that they prefer print for scholarly
covery layer, using free book websites and torrents (downloading), as monographs and literature (69% and 73%, respectively). Edited col-
well as other examples of commercial sites and apps such as iBooks. lections were more evenly split between formats. However, for all other
In Question 12, respondents were asked “How do you find e-books categories surveyed (conference proceedings, reference materials, and
that are available from your own library's collection, for either re- citation manuals), librarians preferred e-books.
creational or research purposes?” They could select multiple responses.
The majority indicated they searched within the library's discovery
layer or catalog (232 times out of 360 responses). Sixty-nine people
searched within specific e-book collections (OverDrive, ebrary, EBSCO,
Springer, etc.) and fifty-one people used Google or Google Scholar to
find e-books. Table 7
Respondents were asked to select e-book collections that they used Actions when using e-books for research purposes.
for either research or recreational purposes, and they could select
Answer Download to Download to Read “online” Print all or
multiple responses so totals add up to greater than 100%. The most an e-book computer, without a portion of
popular two were ebrary and EBSCO, as indicated in Table 6. reader (Kindle, mobile device, downloading it the e-
In “Other,” 36 respondents included other platforms commonly Kobo, etc.)? including within book?
found in libraries. While OverDrive was mentioned in eight comments, an app?
the remainder were only mentioned once or twice, including s Never 276 77 8 91
Books24x7/Skillsoft Books, Bibliothèque national de France digital Rarely 37 72 23 106
collection, CRCnetBASE, deslibris, ECCO, ElgarOnline, Google Books, Sometimes 10 101 81 79
HathiTrust, Hoopla, Internet Archive, JSTOR, Project Muse, DeGruyter, Frequently 3 58 151 50
Always 1 21 68 5
Knovel, Library Juice, MIT CogNet, MyiLibrary, NCCO, OverDrive,
No answer 7 5 3 3
PRETNUMERIQUE.CA, Project MUSE, Sage products, and Wiley e- Total 334 334 334 334

K. Hanz, D. McKinnon The Journal of Academic Librarianship xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

Table 8 respondents who answered “it depends” in relation to “edited collec-

Actions when using e-books for recreational purposes. tions” indicated that they prefer e-books for short answers.
Overall, 10% of respondents suggested they would like to have both
Answer Download to Download to Read “online” Print all or
an e-book computer, without a portion of formats available [“both/it depends”]. This was particularly true in
reader (Kindle, mobile device, downloading it the e- regard to Citation Manuals, with 28% of respondents for “citation
Kobo, etc.)? including within book? manuals” responding that they would like access to both e and print
an app)? formats.
Never 125 46 96 202 “Whatever is fastest or available” also emerged as a common reason
Rarely 14 27 52 34 for choosing “it depends,” accounting for 9% of responses for all for-
Sometimes 23 51 52 8 mats. As one respondent commented, “I use what is convenient at the
Frequently 29 52 35 6 moment.”
Always 55 77 14 0
Anecdotally, the authors often heard complaints about DRM, or
No answer 12 5 9 8
Total 258 258 258 258 challenges with access that are due to DRM from patrons and cow-
orkers. Surprisingly, only 7% of the comments in this survey mentioned
Table 9
Comparison of research and recreational e-book reading habits.
“What would make you more likely to use e-books?”
Answer Research purposes Recreational purposes
In total, 52 respondents (13%) completed this question. As some
Count Percentage Count Percentage respondents wrote several unique responses to this question, a total of
64 unique comments were coded [see Appendix B for codes and their
Read the entire e-book 1 0.3% 168 65.1%
Read chapters, articles or 272 81.4% 25 9.7%
portions of the e-book The most popular response for “What would make you more likely
It depends; sometimes read the 55 16.5% 57 22.1% to use e-books” was “nothing” (17%). While some respondents simply
entire book and other times wrote “Not much” or “Nothing will help,” one was particularly adamant
read just portions
about his/her dislike for the format, writing: “e-books are a grave sin
No answer 6 1.8% 8 3.1%
Total 334 100.0% 258 100.0% against God and man.”
A number of respondents made suggestions about improving the
function of e-books, with 14% suggesting a better note function, 10%
Question 18: “It depends” suggesting improved overall functionality (such as for indexing or on-
screen readability), and 8% suggesting better citations or footnotes
For Question 18, respondents were asked: “If you chose ‘it depends’ would make them more likely to use e-books over print.
for any of the resources, please elaborate.” 126 respondents replied to Also, 8% of responses also suggested they would be more likely to
this question. As some respondents wrote several unique responses, a use e-books if they could be shared through ILL or passed onto others
total of 202 unique comments were coded. Open-ended comments were (like a physical book can).
analyzed and coded by each researcher independently, and differences
were discussed for consensus [See Appendix B for codes and their de- Additional comments
Across all formats, the main reason for choosing “it depends” was Respondents were asked if they had any additional comments. In
“e-books for short answers, reading sections or chapters/print for total, 118 individuals (30%) of respondents answered this question. As
complex answers, comprehension or whole works,” with 27% of re- several individuals wrote multiple comments, 232 individual comments
sponses. As one respondent stated: “If I know I just want to skim, I'll were analyzed and coded. [See Appendix B for codes and their defini-
tend to choose the e-book. If I know I want to read in-depth and make tions].
notes, I'm more likely to want print if it's available.” Another response Overwhelmingly, these additional comments focused on “Using e-
points out that the preference between print and electronic has more to books,”—this category comprised 145 comments (62.5%) of responses.
do with length of text and less to do with format: Within this category, a number of sub-themes were identified. Of the
It depends on the amount of the edited work I plan to read. If I need 145 comments related to “Using e-books,”100 responses (69%) identi-
to read a lot of it, I prefer print. If I am only reading a chapter/essay, fied issues, concerns and frustrations. This included 26 comments
I might settle for an e-book version. My preference for print or e- (17.9%) identifying “issues with DRM” and 23 comments (15.9%) re-
book is related to the AMOUNT I need to read, not to the type of lated to “poor navigation/platform consistency.” Another common
book it is. The longer my anticipated reading, the more I prefer concern was “difficulty printing, downloading and page numbers” (15
print. responses, 10.3%). Only 8 of the 145 comments (5.5%) were decisively
positive, with respondents suggesting that “e-books are convenient,”
The preference of having e-book format available for short answers and that they prefer “ebooks for searching” and “ebooks for travelling.”
was particularly true for “edited collections,” where 76% of 11% (26) of the Additional Comments were specifically related to e-

Table 10
Format preference by type of resource.

Answer Scholarly monographs Literature Edited collections Conference proceedings General reference Specialized reference Citation manuals

Print 269 287 130 40 21 23 65

E-book 39 41 121 213 314 302 244
No preference 34 22 72 71 23 29 30
It depends 47 35 63 38 28 32 48
No answer 3 7 6 30 6 6 5
Total 392 392 392 392 392 392 392

K. Hanz, D. McKinnon The Journal of Academic Librarianship xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

books for “Research” purposes. Of these comments, 85% (22) indicated future research.
a preference for print and problems or frustrations with using e-books. When librarians were asked to identify which e-book collections
One respondent wrote, “eBook formats for academic books are very they had used in the past year, aggregators came out on top, with eb-
clunky,” and another lamented that “there is no Kindle experience for rary and EBSCOhost garnering 152 and 147 selections each. Only 44
academic or public library eBooks.” However, the respondents who did people selected “I don't know,” which was followed by Safari Books
like e-books, were very positive. As one individual wrote, “I love e- Online (40 people), “Other” (31 people), and “I don't use these” (7
books for research and use them all the time. Compared with print people). Of those who selected “Other,” OverDrive was most commonly
books, I use e-books 99% of the time.” entered in the comments (8 people). By comparison, the majority of
Corlett-Rivera and Hackman's respondents selected “I don't know” or
Discussion “none of these” (Corlett-Rivera & Hackman's, 2014). This difference
suggests that librarians have greater knowledge of these e-book col-
The results of the research clearly show that some librarians are lections, likely because librarians purchase the e-books and work with
using e-books when conducting research. Much can be gained from them regularly. This echoes previous studies on different patron groups
learning how they are using them, and how librarians differ from other over the years that show a lack of awareness of the e-books that li-
groups. For example, comparing the results of this survey with the re- braries have to offer (Ashcroft, 2011; Levine-Clark, 2006).
sults from Corlett-Rivera and Hackman (2014) highlights ways in which These findings have implications for both liaison work and collec-
librarians are unique, as well as those in which they are similar to their tion development. Just because they can readily identify e-book col-
faculty and students in their use of e-books. This can help provide in- lections and providers, librarians should not assume that patrons can
sight for both liaison work and collection development. identify which provider or collection they are using, that they search for
specific providers, or that they have strong preferences for one provider
When librarians do research, do they use e-books and how often are they over another. Both Shelburne (2009) and Levine-Clark (2006) noted
using them? that even though patrons may be using e-books, they may not even be
aware of what an e-book is and do not always know the difference
When examining the first research question, 29% of survey parti- between an e-book and e-journal. Armed with this information, li-
cipants used an e-book at least once a semester for this purpose. When brarians have a better understanding of how to inform patrons when
the weekly, monthly and semester totals are combined, 248/396 helping them find the material they need and how to use it. When e-
(62.6%) reported use e-books when doing research. This clearly shows books are available on different platforms, librarians should look at
that many academic librarians are using e-books in this context. functionality, cost and experience with ease of use for selecting the
By comparison, 35% of librarians indicated that they never use e- item, as patrons may not be aware or have strong preferences. How-
books for recreational reading, which was the top response for this ever, future studies in the area are needed, as many of these studies are
question. 5–10 years old and patrons may be more informed today. However, as
many e-books are only available from a single resource, some of this is
Do librarians search for or use e-books differently than other user groups? moot – perhaps patrons are using the only resource where the item is
Comparing the librarians with the students and faculty in the Questions 14 and 15 attempted to capture how librarians were using
Corlett-Rivera and Hackman (2014) survey shows similarities in e-book e-books, and they indicated similar patterns to the students and faculty
use for recreational purposes and differences when conducting re- in the Corlett-Rivera and Hackman (2014) study. Forty-eight percent of
search. As mentioned, librarians use e-books when conducting research; librarians do not download e-books to an e-reader like a Kobo or Kindle,
however, in Corlett-Rivera & Hackman's study, for “both research and compared with 52% in the original study. Thirty percent of librarians in
recreational reading, the most popular response was “never,” at 31% this study selected that they “always” downloaded e-books to a com-
and 41%, respectively” (p. 263). puter, with 21% selecting that they did this “frequently” and 20% se-
Perhaps not surprisingly, librarians' searching habits are markedly lected “sometimes.” The students and faculty had a slightly different
different than the population in the Corlett-Rivera and Hackman study. distribution – they were less likely to select “always,” but their most
In their study, respondents selected commercial sites (31%) and free popular responses were “sometimes” and “frequently,” with 24% and
sites (30%) as their go-to choices for finding e-books. When looking for 27%, respectively (p. 267).
e-books specifically within the university's collection, 36% started with Librarians were less likely to read online than Corlett-Rivera and
the library catalog. In contrast, when librarians search for e-books to Hackman's respondents. Thirty-nine percent of librarians selected that
use for research purposes, 88% start their searches with the library they never read online, followed by 21% selecting “rarely” and 21%
catalog; when finding e-books that are known to be within the library's selecting “sometimes.” However, 35% of the students and faculty se-
collection, this jumps to 99%. When searching for e-books for recrea- lected that they read online and only 8% said that they never do, de-
tional use, librarians also differ from the population in Corlett-Rivera monstrating a notable difference in behavior between the two popula-
and Hackman's study in that 30% selected the public library catalog as tions.
their first choice. There could be several reasons for this. On the one In both this study and Corlett-Rivera and Hackman (2014), the
hand, perhaps librarians are greater proponents of using libraries over majority of respondents “never” or “rarely” print e-books. The rea-
commercial sources. On the other, it could be that librarians have a soning behind this selection was not captured as part of the survey – it is
better understanding of the material that is in the library catalog as they unclear whether people are not printing because they do not need to
work with it daily or that librarians have been trained to start searches print, because it is too difficult, or for some other reason. Many re-
here, and are likely more familiar and comfortable with the search sponses in the “additional comments” section of the survey indicated
interface than the patrons. challenges with printing, particularly in collections where printing is
Regardless of the reason, it is crucial that librarians understand the limited to a small number of pages. It is thus possible that people would
searching habits of their patrons in order to better support them. print more often if it was easier.
Librarians should reflect upon why patrons are going to free sites and In general, librarians use e-books when they are reading a short
commercial sites first: are these sites easier to use, are the items within amount of information or the timeframe is brief – ready reference, ci-
the sites more reliable, do patrons prefer to have their own copy rather tation guides, chapters where they can skim material, and when com-
than borrow a copy from the library, do they simply not know that the muting or travelling. For in-depth reading or reading longer pieces,
library has e-books, or some other reason? These questions warrant including scholarly monographs and literature, librarians indicated that

K. Hanz, D. McKinnon The Journal of Academic Librarianship xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

they prefer print. for question 12, which specifically asks about e-books available from
When compared to Corlett-Rivera and Hackman's respondents, li- the library where the respondent worked. It is recommended that future
brarians have similar patterns when using e-books, but with a greater research be more explicit, to avoid this confusion.
tendency towards preferring e-books for reference material and citation Finally, the survey relies on self-reporting, which has known lim-
manuals. For example, 80% of librarians selected a preference for e- itations related to reliability. Future researchers could also conduct
books for general reference; of the different populations within Corlett- interviews or complete observational studies to provide a more com-
Rivera and Hackman's respondents, “graduate students favored e-books plete picture.
the most (52 percent),” (p. 269). Respondents from both surveys also
preferred e-books for specialized reference, with 76% of librarians
preferring e-books. Likewise, librarians and graduate students prefer e- Conclusions
books for citation manuals, with 61% of librarians selecting this option,
and 39% of graduate students preferring e-books. It is important to note This research adds the academic librarian's perspective to the ex-
that the Corlett-Rivera and Hackman data was collected in 2012, and it isting body of literature on e-books. Librarians use e-books when con-
is thus possible that these preferences could have changed since then. ducting research, although like other patrons, they use e-books more
This has strong implications for collection development. As several often when the item is short or when using material for brief periods of
populations prefer e-books for reference material, citation manuals and time. For in-depth or longer reading periods, librarians prefer print
even conference proceedings, libraries should purchase e-book formats material.
for these. For scholarly monographs and literature, the print is pre- Compared with other groups in previous studies, librarians also use
ferred. e-books more often, and are more aware of what is available. They use
The authors were curious to see if there was a relationship between different tools to find material than other user groups. In particular,
how often librarians borrowed physical items from the library and how their search behavior vastly differs from the behavior of other users, as
often they used e-books. Another question was whether there was a librarians start their searches in library catalogs rather than commercial
relationship between e-book use for recreational purposes and e-book or free websites. However, librarians are equally as frustrated by some
use when conducting research. For example, if someone borrows e- of the more challenging aspects of basic functionality in e-books, such
books frequently for recreational reading, are they more likely to as printing.
borrow an e-book during research? In both cases, using cross tabulation This insight into how librarians in Canadian academic libraries find
and Chi-Square Tests in SPSS, there was no relationship found between and use e-books, compared with different types of patron groups, can
these variables. help reference and liaison librarians when working with patrons.
Understanding general similarities that they have with each other as a
How do librarians feel about using e-books in general? profession, and compared with their patrons, can allow librarians to
empathize with users and feel confident that putting effort into in-
The negativity in the comments captured at the end of this survey is structions in the areas that everyone finds challenging will be appre-
noteworthy. Many respondents indicated that nothing could make them ciated. Librarians can use the knowledge that they search differently
want to use e-books. This is different than the respondents in Corlett- than many patrons to offer appropriate support. For example, if li-
Rivera and Hackman (2014), who cited having an e-reader and greater brarians know patrons are starting their searches in a particular col-
awareness of the e-books' existence as top reasons that would allow lection rather than the library catalog, they can teach the patrons how
them to use e-books more often. A preference for print was captured in to find what they need using that collection and point out advantages
Corlett-Rivera and Hackman's comments but it was not as prevalent as and limitations of not using the library catalog. For example, searching
with the librarians' comments. Rather, while many of the librarians' the library catalog can be advantageous, as it allows patrons to see
comments contained tones of frustration and negativity, Corlett-Rivera results from all the library's resources. On the other hand, a direct
and Hackman reported that “many took the opportunity to share fa- search in a particular platform will allow the user to make use of that
vorable comments on the UMD Libraries in general, the survey itself, or platform's specific features, such as “new releases” in OverDrive.
the existing e-book offerings at the University of Maryland,” (p. 273). When practicing collection development, librarians may find the
results of this study useful in making more informed decisions about
Limitations format selection. For example, knowledge that the majority of librar-
ians indicated that they prefer print for scholarly monographs and lit-
There are several limitations of this study that can be addressed erature may help to inform a decision to collect such materials in an-
through future research or replication of the study. Regarding the other format. Similarly, knowledge that a strong majority of librarians
sending of the survey, by collating the list manually through publicly- prefer e-books for conference proceedings, reference materials and ci-
available information on websites, some academic librarians may have tations guides, may confirm decisions to continue collecting these ma-
not have been included. Additionally, the first email sent included an terials as e-books.
error in the criteria, indicating that only librarians at CARL-member As information experts, librarians are a unique user group to study.
institutions should respond. While this error was corrected in the re- Involvement in the many stages of what P. Jacobs and Bergart (2014)
minder email, some potential respondents may not have replied due to refer to as the e-book “life cycle”, makes most librarians more com-
the initial miscommunication. fortable with finding and using e-books than the average patron. In
Several librarians noted in the comments that research is not a re- particular, answering users' questions about e-books also ensures that
quirement for their job, and they therefore do very little of it. Given that librarians are well-versed with the challenges that come with this
the focus of this study includes how librarians operate while doing format, and many have likely developed work arounds and solutions to
research, future studies should include a question asking respondents if many of the issues. The expert opinions of this user groups should be
research is required as part of their job. carefully considered. While it might be easy to suggest that some of the
There were a few responses in the comments indicating that re- frustrations experienced by users can be solved with library training, it
spondents were confused about whether the survey was asking about is difficult to make the same argument for a user group of librarian
habits related to borrowing material from their own academic library or experts. Examining the above survey responses may help libraries to
from any library, including public libraries. The survey intended to carefully evaluate some of their collection policies, and adjust where
capture habits related to all borrowing, from all types of libraries except required.

K. Hanz, D. McKinnon The Journal of Academic Librarianship xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

Appendix A. Survey questions

1. What is your primary role or position?

• Administration
• Subject specialist/liaison
• Reference
• Instructional services
• Interlibrary loan
• Cataloguing/metadata
• Collection development/acquisitions
• Web services/development
• Government documents
• Digital initiatives
• Scholarly communications
• Archives/special collections
• Electronic resources/systems
• Other
• No answer
2. What is the current status of your position?

• On contract
• Tenure-track
• Tenured
• Permanent appointment without tenure
• Other
• No answer
3. How often do you borrow a physical item from the library for your own research purposes (i.e. a print book, DVD, etc.)?

• Daily
• At least once a week
• At least once a month
• At least once a semester
• At least once a year
• Never
• No answer
4. How often do you borrow a physical item from the library for recreational purposes (i.e. a print book, DVD, etc.)?

• Daily
• At least once a week
• At least once a month
• At least once a semester
• At least once a year
• Never
• No answer
5. How often do you read all or part of an e-book when conducting your own research?

• Daily
• At least once a week
• At least once a month
• At least once a semester
• At least once a year
• Never
• No answer
6. How often do you read all or part of an e-book for recreational reading?

• Daily
• At least once a week
• At least once a month
• At least once a semester
• At least once a year
K. Hanz, D. McKinnon The Journal of Academic Librarianship xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

• Never
• No answer
7. Please complete the following statement: compared to three years ago, my use of e-books when conducting research has ____________.

• Increased
• Stayed the same
• Decreased
• I'm not sure
• No answer
8. Please complete the following statement: compared to three years ago, my use of e-books for recreational reading has ____________.

• Increased
• Stayed the same
• Decreased
• I'm not sure
• No answer
9. Do you own any of the following e-book readers? (Check all that apply.)

• Kindle (
• Nook (Barnes & Noble)
• Sony eReader
• Kobo
• Other
• I don't own an e-book reader
10. For research purposes, which type of resource do you use most often to access e-books?

• Commercial site (for example, Indigo, Kobo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble)
• Free Web site (for example, Google Books, HathiTrust, Project Gutenberg)
• Public library catalog
• University library catalog
• E-book-specific apps or websites (for example OverDrive, iBook)
• I don't use e-books
• Other
11. For recreational purposes, which type of resource do you use most often to access e-books?

• Commercial site (for example, Indigo, Kobo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble)
• Free Web site (for example, Google Books, HathiTrust, Project Gutenberg)
• Public library catalog
• University library catalog
• E-book-specific apps or websites (for example OverDrive, iBook)
• I don't use e-books
• Other
12. How do you find e-books that are available from your own library's collection, for either recreational or research purposes? (Check all that

• Search the university library's catalog, discovery layer or website.

• Search within a specific e-book collection (OverDrive, ebrary, EBSCO eBook Collection, Springer eBooks, Safari Books Online, etc.)
• Google and/or Google Scholar
• I don't use e-books from my university's library
13. Which of the following e-book collections have you used in the past year, for either recreational or research purposes? (Check all that apply.)

• ebrary
• EBSCO eBook Collection
• Gale Virtual Reference Library
• ProQuest Ebook Central
• Safari Books Online
• Scholars Portal/eBound
• ScienceDirect
K. Hanz, D. McKinnon The Journal of Academic Librarianship xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

• Springer eBooks
• University Press Scholarship Online/Oxford Handbooks Online/Cambridge Books Online
• I don't use these
• I've used e-books but I don't know which collections
14. When using e-books for research purposes, how often do you:

• Download to a dedicated e-book reader (e.g., Kindle, Kobo or Sony Reader)?

• Download to a personal computer, laptop, mobile device, including within an app (e.g., downloading an OverDrive book to a mobile phone)?
• Read the material “online” (e.g., reading without downloading the e-book)?
• Print all or a portion of the book?
15. When using e-books for recreational purposes, how often do you:

• Download to a dedicated e-book reader (e.g., Kindle, Kobo or Sony Reader)?

• Download to a personal computer, laptop, mobile device, including within an app (e.g., downloading an OverDrive book to a mobile phone)?
• [Read the material “online” (e.g., reading without downloading the e-book)?
• Print all or a portion of the book?
16. When using e-books for research purposes, you usually: (Select from Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Frequently, Always)

a. Download to a dedicated e-book reader (e.g., Kindle, Kobo or Sony Reader)?

b. Download to a personal computer, laptop, mobile device, including within an app (e.g., downloading an OverDrive book to a mobile phone)?
c. Read the material “online” (e.g., reading without downloading the e-book)?
d. Print all or a portion of the book?

17. When using e-books for recreational purposes, you usually: (Select from Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Frequently, Always)

a. Download to a dedicated e-book reader (e.g., Kindle, Kobo or Sony Reader)?

b. Download to a personal computer, laptop, mobile device, including within an app (e.g., downloading an OverDrive book to a mobile phone)?
c. Read the material “online” (e.g., reading without downloading the e-book)?
d. Print all or a portion of the book?

18. For the following types of resources, please indicate which format you prefer: (Select from Print, E-book, No preference, It depends)

a. Scholarly monographs
b. Edited collections
c. Conference proceedings
d. General Reference
e. Specialized/subject-specific reference
f. Citation manuals & style guides
g. Literature (novels, short stories, poetry, etc.)

19. What, if anything, would make you more likely to use e-books?

a. Easier mechanisms for finding relevant e-books in the library catalogue

b. Improvements in on-screen readability
c. Greater ability to download sections or the entire e-book (i.e. more DRM-free e-books)
d. Easier-to-use options for printing pages or sections of the book
e. Increase of e-books published in my field of research (versus print books)

20. Please share any additional comments or suggestions on e-books at your university library.

Appendix B. Coding for open ended questions

Question 18
If you chose “It depends” for any of the resources in Question 18, please elaborate.

Code Description

Both/it depends Used when no comment was given as to why they use both, just that they use
E-book for night reading Used when they said they like e-books for reading at night.
E-book for OverDrive Used when they mentioned they use or like OverDrive. Sometimes coupled with
another code that they generally prefer print, except in the instance of

K. Hanz, D. McKinnon The Journal of Academic Librarianship xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

E-book for searching Used when they said they like e-books for searching, especially keywords. Often
coupled with one of the other options that indicates they like print.
E-book for short answers, reading sections or chapters/print for Used when respondents said they only use ebooks for short durations, short
complex answers, comprehension or whole works answers, chapters, etc. but that they prefer print books for reading pieces, whole
books or for comprehension.
E-book for teaching Used when they said they like e for teaching.
E-book for travelling Used when e-books are preferred for travelling or commuting. Often coupled
with another code that they generally prefer print.
E-book for vision problems Used when they preferred e-books because of vision problems.
E if good navigation Used for comments that e-books were used when the interface or navigation was
considered “ok” but otherwise they used print material.
E-book if notes can be made Used comments explaining they are “ok” with using e-books, but only when
notes can be made electronically within the platform or software. On the
contrary, ‘Print for notes’ was used for comments where respondents did not like
e-books at all because they felt they could not write notes or annotate in the
same way one can with printed material.
E-book only if no DRM Used when they commented that they like e-books only if they are DRM-free or
mention that they don't use ebooks because of restrictions on the number of
users (which is because of DRM).
E preferred Used when comments indicated that in general, they preferred e-books over
print without a specific reason. Sometimes this was for a specific format. For
example, “Reference-e-book.” For comments where reasons were expressed for
selecting the e-book format, one of the other codes were used, such as “e for
night reading”.
Exclude Used for comments that could not be deciphered or when the comment was so
incomplete that it could not be categorized. Comments with this coding were
disregarded and not included in the totals discussed in the paper.
Find by e, then print Used when they searching is done electronically but they prefer reading the
print format. For example, they described searching for a title, or within a title,
using an e-book but once they found what they needed, they printed the text or
found a print copy and read the print book rather than reading the e-book.
Prefers web/eresources/ejournals to ebooks or print Used when they said their responses were actually referring ejournals, web
resources or eresources not e-books. This was often in conjunction with
comments about citation manuals and style guides, as those resources, when
online, are sometimes eresources or websites rather than “e-books”.
Print Used when they prefer print for a specific material or in general but without
providing a reason. For example, “Reference – print”.
Print for eye fatigue Used when they are unable to read screens or e-books because it hurts their eyes.
Print for images Used when they prefer print books because images are better in print and/or
their disciplines are image-heavy, such as art and architecture.
Print for notes Used when they specified that print is better for making notes.
Print for scanning, indices, appendices, glossaries Used when they commented that it is easier to flip, scan, use indices, Table of
Contents sections, appendices and glossaries in print.

Question 19
What if anything, would make you more likely to use e-books?
For Question 19, responses to the comments were coded with one of the following codes.

Code Description:
“They would be more likely to use e-books if…”

Audio books The e-books had accompanying audio.

Availability of titles/subjects I prefer There were more e-books available that they are interested in
Better notes It was easier to make notes electronically.
Better searching It was easier to search within e-books
Citations/footnotes Footnotes were easier to find/work with.
Consistency between vendors/easier navigation The vendor platforms were more consistent and/or easier to navigate or use.
Discoverability E-books were more discoverable and/or we had an app for using them.
DRM DRM didn't exist or if it was easier to manage.
ePub format More e-books were in ePub format.
E-readers were easier to use E-readers were easier to use.
Exclude [These comments were excluded because they were unclear.]
Hardware The hardware was better, including batteries.
Improved functionality The functionality like indexing and on-screen readability were improved.

K. Hanz, D. McKinnon The Journal of Academic Librarianship xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

Interlibrary loans or personal sharing They could be loaded through ILL or passed onto others (like a physical book can).
Nothing Nothing will make them use e-books more.
Owning an e-reader They owned an e-reader.

Question 20
Please share any additional comments or suggestions on E-books at your university library.
For Question 20, responses were coded with a category, as well as a sub-category to facilitate the extraction of relevant themes. The list of
categories and subcategories are included below.


Course reserves
Exclude because unclear
General comment
Search and discovery - problems finding ebooks in discovery layer and/or cataloguing issues
Collection development
Survey design feedback
Survey response clarification
Using ebooks


Blame publishers for poor experience

Both e-books and print are ok
Concern for cost
Concern that e-books are not available to community members and/or ILL
Difficulty printing, downloading, page numbers
Difficulty reading on-screen
E-books poor quality scans
E-books are convenient
E-books are ok for short duration, prefer print for in-depth
E-books for travelling/commuting
E-preferred policies (except for some subjects) will lead to fewer print books
E-reader - would use e-books more if had one
Generally prefer e-books
Generally prefer print
Generally prefer print except for reference
Generally, e-books at academic libraries is terrible versus public libraries
Hardware challenges
Issues with DRM
lack of e-books in the subject
likes audio books
loan periods are too short
mostly uses articles not e-books
No subcategory
patrons - love e-books for them
patrons don't want e-books
poor navigation/platform consistency
print for markup/notes
problems with indices, footnotes with e-books
unreliable because requires internet
wants academic libraries to develop an app

References pdf, Accessed date: 17 August 2017.

American Library Association (2009). ALA's core competenes of librarianship. Retrieved
ebrary (2008a). 2008 global student E-book Survey. Retrieved from content/careers/corecomp/corecompetences/finalcorecompstat09.pdf, Accessed
corp/collateral/en/Survey/ebrary_student_survey_2008.pdf, Accessed date: 17 date: 17 August 2017.
August 2017. Ashcroft, L. (2011). Ebooks in libraries: An overview of the current situation. Library
ebrary (2008b). 2008 global student e-book survey—cloned for librarians. Retrieved from Management, 32(6/7), 398–407. Becker, B. W. (2015). Ebooks in the library: The current state of research. Behavioral &

K. Hanz, D. McKinnon The Journal of Academic Librarianship xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

Social Sciences Librarian, 34(4), 230–233. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 39(3), 227–231.
2015.1096156. acalib.2013.02.003.
Berg, S. A., Jacobs, H. L. M., & Cornwall, D. (2013). Academic librarians and research: A Jacobs, P., & Bergart, R. (2014). Seeing the whole elephant in the room: A holistic approach to
study of Canadian library administrator perspectives. College & Research Libraries, ebooks. Paper presented at the CUNY library assessment conference, New York, NY.
74(6), 560–572. JISC Collections (2009). JISC national e-books observatory project: Key findings and
Camacho, L., & Spackman, A. (2010). Transitioning to e-books: Usage and attitudes recommendations. Retrieved from
among business faculty. Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 16(1), 33–45. national-e-books-observatory-project-key-findings-and-recommendations/, Accessed date: 17 August 2017.
Canadian Associaiton of Research Libraries (2010). Core competencies for 21st century Levine-Clark, M. (2006). Electronic book usage: A survey at the University of Denver.
CARL librarians. Retrieved from Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 6(3), 285–299.
pdf, Accessed date: 17 August 2017. 2006.0041.
Carroll, A. J., Corlett-Rivera, K., Hackman, T., & Zou, J. (2016). E-book perceptions and Levine-Clark, M.. What do our users think about ebooks and print books? 10 years of survey
use in STEM and non-STEM disciplines: A comparative follow-up study. Portal: data at the University of Denver. (2015). [powerpoint slides]. Retrieved from http://
Libraries and the Academy, 16(1), 131–162. (Accessed
Chen-Gaffey, A., & Getsay, H. (2016). More e-books, less print?—What does usage data 17.06.20).
tell us? Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services, 1–9. McGill University (2016). Enrolment Reports: Fall 2016. Retrieved from https://www.
Corlett-Rivera, K., & Hackman, T. (2014). E-book use and attitudes in the humanities,
social sciences, and education. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 14(2), 255–286. Medical Library Association (2007). Professional competencies. Retrieved from http://, Accessed date: 17 August 2005.
Ebook uage in U.S. Academic Libraries (2012). Library journal. Retrieved from http:// Mizrachi, D. (2015). Undergraduates' academic reading format preferences and beha-, Accessed date: viors. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41(3), 301–311.
17 August 2018. 1016/j.acalib.2015.03.009.
Ebook Usage in U.S. Academic Libraries (2016). Library journal. Retrieved from https:// Newman, M., & Bui, A. (2010). HighWire Press 2009 librarian eBook survey. Retrieved from,
pdf, Accessed date: 17 August 2018. Accessed date: 17 August 2017.
Foote, J. B., & Rupp-Serrano, K. (2010). Exploring e-book usage among faculty and Olney-Zide, M., & Eiford, L. (2015). Confessions of a late bloomer: Use and acceptance of
graduate students in the geosciences: Results of a small survey and focus group ap- an E-books program in an undergraduate library. The Serials Librarian, 68(1–4),
proach. Science & Technology Libraries, 29(3), 216–234. 307–317.
0194262X.2010.497716. Plum, T., & Franklin, B. (2015). What is different about e-books? A MINES for libraries®
Gregory, C. L. (2008). “But I want a real book”: an investigation of undergraduates' usage analysis of academic and health sciences research libraries' e-book usage. Portal:
and attitudes toward electronic books. Reference and User Services Quarterly, 47(3), Libraries and the Academy, 15(1), 93–121.
266–273. Shelburne, W. A. (2009). E-book usage in an academic library: User attitudes and beha-
Hobbs, K., & Klare, D. (2016). Are we there yet? A longitudinal look at e-books through viors. Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services, 33(2–3), 59–72. http://
students' eyes. Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, 28(1), 9–24. http://dx.doi.
org/10.1080/1941126X.2016.1130451. Shrimplin, A. K., Revelle, A., Hurst, S., & Messner, K. (2011). Contradictions and
Horner, J. C. (2017). E-preferred approval books at the University of Manitoba: A com- consensus—Clusters of opinions on e-books. College & Research Libraries, 72(2),
parison of print and ebook usage. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 181–190.
12(2), 90–105. Ward, S. M., Freeman, R. S., & Nixon, J. M. (2015). Introduction to academic e-books. In
Jacobs, H. L. M., & Berg, S. A. (2013). By librarians, for librarians: Building a strengths- S. M. Ward, R. S. Freeman, & J. M. Nixon (Eds.). Academic E-books: Publishers, li-
based institute to develop librarians' research culture in Canadian academic libraries. brarians, and users (pp. 1–18). West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.