Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Librarian Reading Habits Captured

SteveB posted over at the ACRLog the results of his unscientific survey about librarian reading habits.

"College & Research Libraries is the most read of the three scholarly journals that focus on academic librarianship with 215 responses, and I suspect most of those folks get the issues with their membership. Journal of Academic Librarianship clocked in with 114 readers and portal came last with 89 readers. Twenty-six brave souls admitted they hadn’t read any of the three in six months or more.

"Many (81) do print out or copy articles to read them later on, but nearly as many (75) indicate they just scan and rarely read any of the articles. Many fewer (36) report reading the complete text of more than two articles, and yet others (23) scan a few of the articles they copy or print and then file them away neatly just in case they should be needed in the future."

" the articles in these journals provide strong evidence that tenure for librarians leads to a glut of unnecessary or pointless scholarly articles (our discipline isn’t the only one) ... the respondents depend on their rss feeds and blogs for news and readable content - not these journals ...librarians open the journals quickly to see who published and to look at job ads - and it’s downhill after that... despite all of the above it’s still important to read these journals."

Personally, I am a scanner. I find that the blogosphere provides me with much more information about those topics that effect me today. I seem to tap into the traditional journal literature exclusively when I am working on my own 'traditional' publications or when someone asks me to specifically "look into the literature..."

Based on the response rate, nearly 1/3 of librarians appear to simply scan journals and many will open the journal to see who got published and read the job ads. We still seem to support journals either out of duty or professional guilt (doing what we preach) or simply because of the need for a place to publish scholarly articles as evidence for tenure.

Lorcan Dempsey chimed to highlight his ‘dreary literature’ post where he suggests that there is a growing gap between the positions that the library profession takes with respect to the literature more generally and the state of its own literature.

I do not see this changing until, as a profession, we begin to acknowledge the value of other forms of scholarly communications. Personally, I get more out of Lorcan's blog in a month then I do out of a print journal in a year. In fact, I may get more out of reading a month of posts by all the great librarian bloggers out there then all the library-oriented journals that pass by my desk in a year. Sphere: Related Content

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