Reviewed By: Amy Budzicz, Joanna Delgado, Keith Chong
Link to article: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/2164/
Ebijuwa and Mabawonku’s study seeks to build on existing research that suggests that electronic library resources are underutilized in Universities throughout Nigeria. While previous research suggests that the low usage of electronic resources is caused by a number of factors including a deficit in technology literacy, and user attitudes, this study examines other potential factors more closely, using opt-in descriptive survey research to look for discrepancies in electronic resource utilization based on the factors of age, gender, and academic discipline. The study claims that age is the most prominent determinant of electronic resource usage, though it notes that the vast majority of respondents were between the ages of seventeen through twenty five years of age with a mere 1.7% of respondents being twenty nine or older. The results are compared in the study’s literature review to the findings of similar research written by information scientists in the United States, Malasia, Chile, and various other countries and for the most part seem to corroborate the existing findings; that age, rather than gender or academic discipline, is the demographic that can be used to predict electronic resource usage most consistently.
Core research questions
The research questions of Ebijuwa and Mabawonku’s 2019 study examine whether the usage demographic usage statistics of electronic library resources correlate to variables such as age, gender, or academic field of study of undergraduate students in federal universities in South West Nigeria. It questions existing studies and research, that focus on why universities report low usage of electronic library resources (including wealth disparity, low levels of technology literacy, and over all user attitudes), and asks whether there are other factors that contribute to this lack of technology adoption.
This study surveyed six federal universities in Southwest Nigeria, comprised 140,351 undergraduate students. To narrow the survey pool, the study broke down the number of responders by looking at specific academic areas, and specific departments within those areas. Observing that academic disciplines were common among the six schools, the study was able to categorize academic discipline into 12 departments from 4 subject areas. These were Arts: English, History, Philosophy; Engineering: Electrical and Electronics engineering, Civil Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering; Science: Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics; and Social Science/Humanities: Economics, Sociology, and Psychology. The study comprised of an opt-in survey which resulted in 30,516 respondents. Only 5% of respondent submissions were used in order to narrow the study further, leaving a sample size of 1,526 students. Each of the 1,526 students received a questionnaire asking questions of discipline, age, gender, and types and reasons for using Electronic Library Resources.
Findings and Conclusions
According to Ebijuwa and Mabawonku, age is the only factor that played a consistent role in the findings on whether or not age, gender, and academic discipline affects undergraduates use of electronic library resources. For example, patrons using the library were mostly between the ages of 20-22 years old using electronic library resources for class assignments, projects, scholarship opportunities, research, online applications, and personal use such as, news and email, etc. Gender and academic discipline were not affected because of inconsistent results. For example, “Okiki and Ashiru (2011) who found in their study more male (53.82%) than female (46.18%). However, the result obtained in this study contradicts those of Ukachi (2013); Ebijuwa (2018) whose studies had more female than male students” (Ebijuwa & Mabawonku, 2019). Another interesting finding is that there was no consistent pattern between undergraduates using electronic library resources and the number of different disciplines. For example, “Faculty of Science used E-journals, Ebooks, CD-ROM databases, OPAC and E-thesis more frequently than the faculties of Arts, Social Science and Engineering” (Ebijuwa & Mabawonku, 2019). At the end of this article, researchers recommend six different ways undergraduates can improve the use of electronic library resources. For instance, library staff should encourage, recommend, and promote toward undergraduates to use other electronic library resources instead of just prefer one over the other.
What can be gained by American Libraries?
Although the scope of this study was relatively small and focused on usages statistics of undergraduate students, their recommendations are applicable internationally, and across all manner of user demographics. Ebijuwa and Mabawonku make the recommendation that library staff can increase electronic resource utilization by encouraging users to explore all electronic resource options rather than using the same resource every time, and suggest adoption of “various motivation strategies to promote the use of electronic library resources among the undergraduates.” They further recommend that wireless should be available to undergraduates across campus rather than at libraries or specific buildings alone; which can be taken a step farther by public institutions as a recommendation to make free, easy access wireless available in all manner of public spaces to ensure seamless and equitable access.
Additionally, if the results of the study are extrapolated to user populations in general, and age tends to correlate to low electronic resource usage, then libraries need to consider how to bolster education for older patrons using electronic resources. More research should be done to examine demographics that correlate with low usage of electronic resources in American public libraries and how library systems can create and promote electronic resources for everyone.
Ebijuwa, A. S., & Mabawonku, I. (2019). Demographic variables and academic discipline as determinants of undergraduates use of electronic library resources in federal universities in South-West, Nigeria. Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/2164