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Gloriana St. Clair Distinguished Lecture in 21st Century Librarianship: Preferring print in a digital world

April 26, 2017 @ 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

The Gloriana St. Clair Distinguished Lecture in 21st Century Librarianship will feature Diane Mizrachi, the social sciences and undergraduate instruction librarian at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

To confirm your attendance,  please RSVP.

Her talk, “Preferring Print in a Digital World: Studies of Students’ Academic Reading Behaviors” will discuss local and international studies which demonstrate that most college and university studies still consider print their preferred medium for academic and deep reading tasks.


Readers use different strategies – skimming, scanning, focused reading – for different contexts and purposes.  With today’s online technology and wireless connections, the average person is likely to engage in more electronic reading during the day than print as we cope with emails, text messages, and social media communications; check online news and entertainment sources; and enjoy the convenience of the internet for quick fact-finding and similar tasks.  It is therefore easy to assume that college students, most of whom grew up in a ubiquitous digital environment, would naturally prefer to read their academic texts electronically as well.  But reading academic texts for learning and understanding purposes is different than scanning headlines and Facebook posts; it requires focused and intensive engagement.  This talk will discuss local and international studies which demonstrate that most college and university students still consider print their preferred medium for academic and deep reading tasks.

My interest in this phenomena piqued when interviewing undergraduates about their academic information management behaviors as part of my dissertation research in 2009.  I was surprised that most students primarily preferred print when engaging with their required coursework.  Five years later, nearly 400 students at UCLA replied to my survey and verified this attitude.  Responses collected in 2015-2016 from more than 10,000 students in 21 countries as part of the Academic Reading Format International Study (ARFIS) show that this attitude is prevalent worldwide.  In fall 2015, I performed a case study of the actual format behaviors of first-year college students in a reading-intensive course and found that even when all their texts were made available online, more than 70% of the respondents still read all or most of the texts in print.[i]  The results of my studies are congruent with similar studies performed over the past 15 years.

What should librarians and educators do with this knowledge?  How does this impact our acquisition and collection policies, and how should we respond to administrators and faculty who push for more electronic sources because of uninformed assumptions about our students?  How do we know if this condition is evolving or hardwired into our learning psyche?  I will pose these questions to the audience and anticipate a lively discussion.

[i] For more information on these studies, see: Mizrachi, D. (2010). Undergraduates’ academic information and library behaviors: Preliminary results. Reference services review, 38(4), 571-580; Mizrachi, D. (2015).  Undergraduates’ academic reading format preferences and behaviors. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41(3), 301-311; Mizrachi, D., Boustany, J., Kurbanoğlu, S., Doğan, G., Todorova, T., & Vilar, P. (2016, October). The Academic Reading Format International Study (ARFIS): Investigating Students Around the World. In European Conference on Information Literacy (pp. 215-227). Springer, Cham. (Discusses results from 19 country participants); Mizrachi, D. (2016). Buy, borrow, or access online? Format behaviors among college freshmen in a reading-intensive course. Reference Services Review, 44(4).

Gloriana St. Clair Distinguished Lectures in 21st Century Librarianship

Distinguished lectures in 21st century librarianship are named in honor of Gloriana St. Clair, dean of libraries emerita, who served as dean of Carnegie Mellon University Libraries from 1998 to 2013.




April 26, 2017
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
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