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Exploring academic e-book use: part II through focus groups and interviews

Melissa Goertzen (Collection Development, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA)
Nisa Bakkalbasi (Libraries Administration, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 11 April 2016




In two previous papers, the authors discussed a text analysis method utilized to explore e-book usage across disciplines at Columbia University. To verify the method, the authors conducted focus group and interviews sessions with faculty members and graduate students to understand when and why e-books are used in conjunction with scholarly activities. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


Participants answered eight pre-determined questions during one-on-one interviews and dual moderator focus group sessions. They were also invited to complete a questionnaire regarding e-book discovery, access, and use. All sessions were transcribed and the data were analyzed using grounded theory approach to examine emerging themes.


The findings suggest that faculty and graduate students use e-books for discontinuous reading and quick reference purposes. They value the ability to customize learning environments to suit immediate circumstances and needs. Frustration occurs when availability and accessibility are hindered by limitations imposed by platforms or licenses. Participants believe the library can advocate for users and work with vendors to develop business models that promote greater convenience and flexibility online.


The study complements and extends existing findings reported in earlier research utilizing a text analysis method. The results indicate that text analysis is a reliable assessment method in the examination of usage trends across e-book collections. Also, the study brings a human sentiment to the discussion of e-book discovery, access, and use. It provides the user community with a voice and left the authors with a deeper understanding of existing information needs on campus.



Goertzen, M. and Bakkalbasi, N. (2016), "Exploring academic e-book use: part II through focus groups and interviews", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 83-92.



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