Friday, November 11, 2005

Books, online, and substitution effects

From The University of Chicago Chronicle:

A new student survey backs the hunch of University faculty and administrators that the demise of the book has been vastly overstated.

The poll of 5,700 students’ library usage habits on campus reveals the use of electronic resources is not crowding out use of libraries for research using conventional stacks, reference materials and other physical resources, as some have feared. ...

“These things are synergistic: we found if you are taking out lots of books, you are also more likely to be a high user of electronic resources,” said Andrew Abbott, the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in Sociology and the College, who chairs the faculty task force on libraries....

Many universities across the country are scaling back on book buying in favor of beefing up digital resources. But the poll findings suggest that “there is no real evidence of substitution,” Abbott said. “Users do seem to be using on-line rather than physical journals. But usage of other physical materials is up, and the survey tells us very clearly that heavy digital media users are heavy physical media users and vice versa.”

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