How College Students Seek Information in the Digital Age (pdf) is a report from Project Information Literacy, maintained by the Information School at the University of Washington that contains a few surprises for libraries:
- Course readings were the first place most students turn to for course-related research (97%).
- Over 80% of students used library-provided research databases.
- Usage of library offering (research databases, OPAC, print materials, and study areas) were all above 50%.
Now the not so good:
- All interactive library research (talk to a librarian, attend a training session, use chat, e-mail or other online “Ask A Librarian” service) fell below 25%.
- Students are missing out on potential resources (including library research assistance), simply because those resources are not within their range of research activity.
Where are students going for assistance? They tend to go to their instructors for guidance and assistance, but otherwise they simply use the resources they already know about, or discover in the course of their research.
What might this mean for libraries? We should push for better interaction with instructors, so that they will be more likely to understand the full range of resources available for students to use, and will be more likely to refer students to an interactive library resource (which was only done 26% of the time — and the only result on the survey below 60%).
We also should examine our online presence. How does it present research resources? Will someone looking for a particular type of information be able to locate all the resources that the library has to offer? Print and online library guides for these activities can also be very beneficial.
This report should be read, and reviewed, with each of our libraries in mind. By understanding that the people we interact with are only one-fourth of the population using our resources, we can begin to re-focus our efforts to ensure that what we have to offer will be used effectively.