2014 STS Research Forum

Long Paper

Unbundling a Big Deal: Comparing Three Data Sources to Come to Decisions

Diane (DeDe) Dawson

University of Saskatchewan


Academic libraries in Canada acquire many “big deal” journal packages through a national consortium, the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN). Recently, negotiations with the American Chemical Society (ACS) broke down and it appeared that member libraries would need to negotiate with ACS individually for the Web Editions bundle of 40+ titles. It soon became clear that the University Library, University of Saskatchewan would likely no longer be able to afford the entire package, and tough decisions would need to be made. Usage data on each title were readily available – but is that enough evidence? Working under the common assumption that the primary users of this package are the Chemistry Department researchers, a citation analysis was conducted on what ACS journals these users recently published in and cited in their articles. The Chemistry Department was kept informed of developments in the ACS/CRKN situation, and expressed interest and concern in the outcome. In an effort to continue to engage chemistry researchers and offer them a voice in the process, a survey of their opinions on each ACS title was also conducted. It was hoped that combining data from these three discreet sources: usage statistics, citation analyses, and user feedback, would enable us to arrive at the most conscientious, evidence-based decisions possible. This poster will present the outcome of this thorough analysis and discuss the benefits and challenges of this comprehensive methodology and whether it is practical in every situation.


Short Paper

STEM Learning in the Library Learning Commons: Examining Whiteboards for Evidence of Learning through Student-Generated Visualizations

Uta Hussong-Christian & Rick Stoddart

Oregon State University


Libraries are currently challenged to design dynamic learning spaces that are attractive to students and support them in various forms of learning. STEM students, in particular, need spaces that allow them to engage in visualization activities, which ongoing research shows is a vital component of STEM learning. Working from the hypothesis that whiteboards in library learning commons support learning through visualization, librarians at Oregon State University’s The Valley Library undertook an exploratory, photo-ethnographic study to determine the types of visualization activities in which students engage. Librarians captured student-generated whiteboard content over the course of one term by photographing whiteboards in the learning commons twice each week for 10 weeks. These photographs are currently being analyzed for the types of visualization they contain. Researcher definitions range widely but visualizations, such as study notes [on whiteboards], may include direct representations, diagrams, matrices, charts, trees, tables, graphs, pyramids, causal chains, timelines, or even outlines (Cifuentes and Hsieh, 2004). One early finding is that STEM content is much more heavily represented in the visualizations than is social sciences or humanities content. This study contributes to the increasing body of qualitative assessment data on learning commons but makes a unique contribution by attempting to directly connect library spaces to specific educational activities that impact student learning. The results of this study can be used to identify and convey the types of high impact learning activities that libraries support and will inform the thoughtful design of library learning spaces for STEM and other students.


Short Paper

Demographics of Science Teachers and Perceptions of a Video Digital Library

Dan Albertson

University of Alabama


Digital libraries comprise interactive retrieval tools that allow users to interact “in the loop” with centralized and domain-specific collections through user interfaces.  Considering that the retrieval and use of video from a digital library involves querying, delivering, and assessing multiple channels of information, variations among the perceptions of different users would be a reasonable outcome.  The overarching research question presented here includes:  are there associations between the demographics and experiences of a defined user group and their perceptions of a previously used video digital library?   K–12 science education was the experimental domain; 5 science education majors and 23 science teachers were recruited to participate in full interactive search experiments.  A pre-experiment survey collected demographic data about users’, while a post-experiment survey, completed after six different search topics, measured ease of use and learnability of the digital library and the supportiveness of certain features, including keyword and visual searches and video browsing.  Means of the different perceptions from the post-experiment survey were compared between different user groups, based on age, gender, highest academic level, grade level taught, and technological experiences.  The major finding was that no significant statistical differences were found.  A previous study demonstrated that domain knowledge of users was significantly associated with several factors involving users’ perceptions, but, here, varying demographics of users within the group did not.  All science teachers in this group perceived all aspects of the video digital library similarly.  Findings inform our understanding of science video use and thus the design of support mechanisms for science educators.