B(u)y the book: evaluation of a university initiative to provide students with funds to buy books
Performance Measurement and Metrics
Article publication date: 25 November 2019
Issue publication date: 3 December 2019
In the era of high student fees and intense market competition, many universities now buy books for their new students, and recently have incorporated student choice into the offer, enabling students to choose how to spend funds. Teesside University has successfully piloted such an approach with one academic School, the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Law. The pilot has now been extended to all academic Schools, with all students receiving £100 per academic year to spend on reading list books. The scheme covers new full-time undergraduate students at the University, and is operated in collaboration with an external company, John Smiths. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the Teesside University Advance scheme against baseline data of book borrowing and reservation patterns of reading list titles. The paper explores the impact upon the student experience and student perceptions of the Library.
The project used a mixed methods approach. The quantitative strand analysed book borrowing and reservation patterns data from library systems and from book purchasing patterns data provided by the online store supporting the scheme. Students were also surveyed about the scheme. The qualitative strand, via one-to-one interviews conducted by the student researcher, gained an insight into why students select certain titles to purchase; and what their expectations of the university library are for the supply of reading list titles.
Analysis revealed an overall decline in book borrowing from the library of the titles selected for purchase by students via the scheme. Student perceptions of the library were positive and demonstrated a strategic use of library resources alongside book purchases and open web resources. At early stages of university undergraduate study, students need guidance on most appropriate resources to use and why, from either reading lists or book bundles.
Teesside University scheme is unique in the UK in covering all new full-time undergraduates and letting them choose which reading list titles to buy with the university funds provided.
This paper was originally presented as a lightning talk at the 13th International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries (LibPMC) held in Aberystwyth, Wales, 23–25 July 2019.
Porritt, F., Murphy, L., Wells, G. and Burns, E. (2019), "B(u)y the book: evaluation of a university initiative to provide students with funds to buy books", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 196-200. https://doi.org/10.1108/PMM-08-2019-0038
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