The Books Right Here project is concerned with meeting student expectations in relation to Library provision of recommended textbooks. A review of recent survey results makes interesting reading as the themes that emerged around course reading and e-books are definitely in line with the issues the project is trying address.
The University of Manchester Library conducted two major pieces of market research in 2013/14 and had over 2,000 responses, giving us a statistically significant bank of information to draw upon.
One piece of research looked at students’ perceptions of Library services; the other focused specifically on the digital environment and also included academics.
So what did our users tell us?
Students’ expectations of course reading
- Over 90% of students felt that for core course reading the Library should make an electronic copy available to all students on the course
- Only 46% of students stated that they were happy to buy books for their course
- The vast majority of students thought that all of the books on their reading lists should be available in the Library (91%) and that all of their reading lists should be available online and on one place (86%)
How are students reading?
- When asked questions about the way they read, most students stated that they read a mix of electronic and hard copies with the overall preference leaning towards electronic
- Users also expressed frustration that e-books currently accessed via the Library did not have the functionality and advantages that they expected in electronic texts, such as printing, downloading and highlighting capability
What can we learn from this?
It is often reported that students prefer printed books but it may be that they are unimpressed by the e-book experience that is currently offered to them.
Our students are telling us that they want the Library to provide more books in electronic format for their core reading but they are dissatisfied with their experience of using the e-books we currently provide.
One of the questions we intend to address is whether providing seamless access to an interactive e-book via Blackboard will make for a better user experience.
We are going to investigate this and the other issues raised by investigating students’ experiences of taking part in our e-book pilots.
Sarah Rayner, Project Manager