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BC Library Conference 2017

April 19–21, 2017

Vancouver, BC

F15 - Does the Medium Matter? Using Evidence from Science and Engineering Student Surveys to Guide Choices between Electronic and Print Books in Collection Development

Friday, April 21, 2017 at 1:00 PM–1:45 PM PDT
Salon E
Session Description

Generously Sponsored By: Simon Fraser University Library

In the years since Amazon first offered the Kindle, e-reading has proliferated markedly, such that today, e-books comprise a significant proportion of book budgets at most academic libraries. From cost savings to convenience to the ability to grow collections without corresponding space demands, e-books offer many benefits.
However, as recent research, including Naomi Baron’s Words Onscreen and Library Journal’s most recent report on e-book usage in U.S. academic libraries tells us, college and university students are not overwhelmingly migrating to e-books. Moreover, while some subject areas may be heavier users of electronic content than others, growing evidence suggests that not only do students prefer reading print over e-books, but that technology may even be changing the way we read and learn.
This session will share the methods and results of an investigation into the book format preferences of undergraduate students in the Colleges of Science and Engineering at Seattle University. The study was based on the administration of in-class paper surveys in classes required for undergraduate majors in Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering, resulting in a high and statistically significant response rate. Methods used, including partnering with department chairs and faculty, collaborative survey development and delivery, and data analysis will be described, as will the results of the study, including a detailed look at the comments provided by students in response to questions about why they prefer electronic or print books.


Christina Nilsen, MA, MLIS, Seattle University

Christina Nilsen has been a Research Services Librarian, liaison to the Colleges of Science and Engineering, and Lead Librarian for Assessment at Seattle University since 2015. Before that, she worked as a Reference Librarian at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Washington; Campus Librarian at Thompson Rivers University's (TRU) Williams Lake, BC, campus; and as the Borrower and Data Services Librarian at TRU's Kamloops, BC, campus. Christina holds BA and MA degrees in History from the University of Victoria and an MLIS from the University of British Columbia.