Quote of the Week: Print References

February 11, 2010

Print reference use in most academic libraries is dead. We have students that commonly choose and change their assignment topics based on what they can easily find online. My colleague, Fred Stoss, can tell you about a student for whom he found a wonderful set of data that was perfect for their project but it was not available electronically. The student changed their assignment to a topic where they could grab e-data.

Of course this is sad. But I don't think all the information literacy training in the world is going to change the trend. We'll get a handful of converts, but we've lost the masses.

-- A. Ben Wagner, Sciences Librarian, University of Buffalo, via CHMINF-L

I wonder - what factors exactly are driving this change? I'm not talking about widely discussed topics such as convenience or the generation gap, but less widely-discussed factors such as mashability and cheap access to tools enabling personal and small group use of ever larger quantities of data. If your organization is in the business of selling access to scientific information, its very survival could depend on a deep understanding of the answer to this question.