Research on Libraries and Librarianship in 2002
Mary Jo Lynch
Director, Office for Research & Statistics, ALA
The year 2002 was a time of increasing fiscal trouble for the institutions that support library research, as for many other institutions in the U.S. Research was done nonetheless, and much of it involved both library service and the Internet. Despite the bursting of the dot com bubble, use of the Internet continues to climb. In late December, a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that the Internet has become a mainstream information tool.
Also in December, there were two announcements that bode well for the relationship between libraries and the Internet. IMLS invited proposals to conduct a large national study of the information needs and expectation of users and potential users of online information, and of the impacts of having such information. The study will provide data and recommendations about:
content that should be made available online to meet information and enterprise needs of the public, using broad definitions of both information and public; and
- mechanisms and resources necessary to efficiently and effectively connect users to that content.
This is an important research initiative for the library community as it has the potential to alter public perceptions of how that community relates to the Internet.
Another announcement in December 2002 bodes well for the enhancement of that relationship. For several years now, libraries have spent increasing amounts of money and time on licenses to electronic periodicals and databases for use by library patrons. A few individual libraries have devised ways to generate meaningful statistics about how those services are used. But there are no valid state or national level statistics and none that can be used by researchers to compare one library with others. A major reason for that lack is the fact that publishers and other intermediaries do not provide comparable statistics to libraries. Several groups have been working on this for several years and a major breakthrough came in December 2002 with the Web posting of a “Code of Practice” from COUNTER: Counting Online Usage of NeTworked Electronic Resources ( http://www.projectcounter.org/). This international initiative had its genesis in the U.K. and is supported by a number of organizations in the U.S. and elsewhere. Its goal is “to provide a single, international, extendible Code of Practice that allows the usage of online information products and services to be measured in a credible, consistent, and compatible way using vendor-generated data.” By 2004, vendors are expected to be “COUNTER-compliant”. This was done for reasons other than to facilitate research, but it will definitely prove useful to researchers.
In October 2002, preliminary results became available from a large-scale study of how information usage patterns are changing among undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty members in U.S. academic institutions. Dimensions and Use of the Scholarly Information Environment: Introduction to a Data Set Assembled by the Digital Library Federation and Outsell, Inc., is available at http://www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/pub110abst.html. The data comes from telephone interviews with 3,234 faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduate students in a range of disciplines from almost 400 public and private institutions of varying sizes. In general, patterns vary depending on user group (faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students) and activity (research, teaching, and coursework), but both print and online resources are used heavily by all three groups for all three activities. Online resources are often used through the library’s website. The preliminary report was based on 158 selected data tables. The full set of 659 data tables is now available at the same site. Researchers are encouraged to use them or to consult the raw data tapes that will be deposited with the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).
A different but related study was described at the OCLC Symposium preceding the ALA Annual Conference in Atlanta. The OCLC “White Paper” on the information habits of college students was called “How Academic Libraries Can Influence Students’ Web-Based Information Choices”. The study was done online for OCLC by Harris Interactive to find out how students use the Web to do course assignments, which role libraries play in that process, and how libraries can improve the service to students. Seventy-three percent of students reported using their library’s website at least some of the time. During their last visit to the site, 67 percent used the full text of journal articles; 57 percent, the library catalog; 51 percent, databases or indexes to journal articles. The majority of respondents (89 percent) used print resources from their campus library. ( http://www2.oclc.org/oclc/pdf/printondemand/informationhabits.pdf).
A different aspect of academic library service was examined in an IMLS funded study on The State of Preservation Programs in American College and Research Libraries: Building a Common Understanding and Action Agenda conducted by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) in cooperation with the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the University Libraries Group (ULG, and the Regional Alliance for Preservation. Data for the study were collected by means of a paper survey and on-site interviews. The survey was conducted in 116 libraries, including 22 midsize universities belonging to the ULG, 20 major non-ARL land grant institutions (LG), and 75 liberal arts colleges belonging to what is known informally as the “Oberlin Group” (OG). The survey was designed to secure documentation from the ULG, OG, and LG libraries that was comparable to information on ARL members that appears in the ARL Preservation Statistics for 2000-2001.
After conducting the survey, project staff members made site visits to 20 institutions representing ARL, ULG, LG, and OG. The purpose of the visits was to collect qualitative information on attitudes, opinion, and emotions relating to the topic of preservation that would supplement the quantitative survey data. Results were used to develop a series of six recommendations to guide stakeholders ( http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/toc.asp?Report=80).
The press release for national Library Week 2002 announced the results of two ALA sponsored studies with good news about use of public libraries. One study, later reported in American Libraries with the title “Economic Hard Times and Public Library Use Revisited” ( click here), was prompted by calls to ALA in late 2001 asking for proof of the popular belief that library use goes up when the economy goes down. Librarians were seeing this happen locally and wanted evidence from other places. The ALA Office for Research & Statistics (ORS) worked with the staff at the Library Research Center (LRC) of the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library & Information Science to design a small study that would take a contemporary look at an old belief.
LRC contacted the twenty-five public libraries in the U.S. serving populations of 1 million or more and asked them to provide monthly data on circulation and visits for the last five years. Twenty-three agreed to cooperate and sent data. The visits data were not robust enough for statistical analysis. However, circulation data from eighteen libraries were exactly what was needed. Using that data and the standard methodology of time series regression analysis, LRC found that circulation had increased significantly in all the months since March 2001, when the National Bureau of Economic Research pegged the beginning of the latest recession.
To measure the public’s use of public libraries and opinion on messages in the @your library campaign, ALA contracted with KRC Research & Consulting for telephone interviews with 1,000 people over the ages of 18. Among other things, they found that:
- 66% of all respondents reported using the public library at least once in the last year in person, by phone, or by computer.
- 62% of respondents have a library card.
- 91% of the total respondents believed libraries will exist in the future, despite all of the information available on the Internet.
The questions and results have been posted, to view click here .
The KRC study found that 26% of people who visited the public library used the Internet while they were there. A study by the Library Research Service at the Colorado State Library examined that use by asking public libraries to distribute a nine-item questionnaire to patrons on two different days and at all times of those days. Funded by a LSTA grant, “Colorado Public Libraries & the “Digital Divide” 2002” produced a detailed report with three key finding:
Technology in public libraries spans all demographics and fulfills a highly demanded patron need.
Technology have-nots are not limited to the poor or under-educated.
Library patrons are teaching themselves new technology skills, communicating on a global level, and accessing online information on a wide variety of topics. With access to online information about education, health, employment, and volunteer opportunities, they are improving their quality of life and that of their communities.
The report is posted at: http://www.lrs.org/documents/DD_2002/DDSR_W-appendix.pdf.
An unusual publication from ALA describes one aspect of what patrons are doing online. Online Community Information: Creating a Nexus at Your Library by Joan C. Durrance and Karen E. Pettigrew is a unique combination of research report and a how-to manual. The research was funded by a 1998 IMLS National Leadership Grant for “Help-Seeking in an Electronic World: The Role of the Public Library in Helping Citizens Obtain Community Information Over the Internet”. IMLS has now funded a related study by the same study team. In “Approaches for Understanding Community Information Use” the team will gather data to better understand the information-seeking behavior of consumers. It will also identify best practices in the provision of community information and community services.
Youth & Libraries
Two other IMLS grants in the 2002 cycle focus on public library service to young adults. Two faculty members at the Drexel University, College of Information Science & Technology in collaboration with the Free Library of Philadelphia will conduct a three-year research project entitled “Everyday Information Seeking Behavior of Urban Young Adults”. In a smaller and shorter project, the School of Informatics at the State University of New York, Buffalo will investigate the impact of youths’ use of the Internet on their use of the public library. The project will sample students from schools in the Buffalo area and western New York state to determine which populations have access to digital information and how they are using it, and where students access the Internet.
IMLS also funded a three-year project with the University of Maryland to evaluate the impact the International Children’s Digital Library can have on children, based upon research on ethnographic and demographic variables in children’s use patterns and preferences, and upon the application of outcomes-based evaluation techniques to children’s use of digital content.
The Children’s Digital Library itself will be developed by a $3 million National Science Foundation grant to the same institution. Research issues surrounding scale, metadata, book readers, localization, and community building will be addressed during this five-year project. In addition, intellectual property, copyright protection, and distribution issues are being explored with the help of stakeholders (e.g., authors, publishers, librarians, etc.) who have come together as partners in this research effort. The results of this research will be disseminated in conference and journal papers, as well as through yearly workshops and a final book describing the children’s personal experiences with the library. This research will be an important demonstration of new advances in digital libraries technologies for children and will lead to a critical discussion concerning rights management and access to copyrighted materials.
Another aspect of youth and the Internet will be explored by researchers at the McGill University Graduate School of Library & Information Studies. Using a three-year grant from Canada’s Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Andy Large and Jamshid Beheshti will explore whether children can play a role in Web portal design, to what extent portals should be designed to meet the needs of specific ages and genders, the difference between a child’s and an adult’s design concept, and whether a design that children find attractive will also be as usable as that from a professional. The research will help understand how children approach software design, as well as their specific opinions on portal design. Ii will elaborate portal design criteria from young users’ perspectives, and enable future portals to be constructed based on the cognitive processes of their users.
For those interested in school libraries, there were two important developments to note in 2002. Many of the leading researchers in the field, plus over 20 young scholars met at the Elms Resort and Spa, near Kansas City, May 30—June 2 for another Treasure Mountain Research Institute. This is number 10 in a series of research retreats created in 1989 to provide researchers in the field of school library media studies an opportunity to share their research, gather ideas, and interact with practioners. This time the organizers were Daniel Callison and Nancy Thomas and the theme was “Assessment of Student Achievement and Information Literacy Education with emphasis on Children and Youth in a Multicultural Context” ( http://slis.iupui.edu/TreasureMountain/description/index.htm). Proceedings will be published by Hi Willow Press in 2003 and plans are already underway for TMII.
One of the speakers at the event was Keith Curry Lance, whose state studies have demonstrated a correlation between strong library media center programs and student achievement. Several state reports were described in this article last year. The Iowa report was released in 2002 ( http://www.aea9.k12.ia.us/aea_statewide_study.pdf) and a Michigan study was in progress. At this writing, statistics are in the planning stages in California and Illinois.
The View from OCLC
Last year this article noted that the OCLC Office of Research had a new director, Lorcan Dempsey. The October 2002 issue of the OCLC Newsletter featured a long interview with Dempsey under the headline “Libraries Change Lives, and Research Changes Libraries.” The interview describes five major themes in the current research agenda at OCLC:
- Metadata management and knowledge organization,
- Content management,
- Management intelligence,
- Interoperability, and
- Systems and interaction design.
At the end of the interview, Dempsey explained the double goal of his unit, “OCLC Research has an interesting dual role. We support OCLC products and services. We also act on behalf of the wider community. For many libraries R&D activity is not possible. This means that we are keen to do work that at once benefits OCLC and the wider community.” ( http://www.oclc.org/news/newsletter/oclcnewsletter258.pdf
Awards that Honor Excellent Research
All active awards are listed along with the amount of the award, the URL for the award (if available), and the person(s) and projects(s) that won in 2002. If the award is annual but was not given in 2002, that fact is noted. General ALA awards are listed first followed by units of ALA in alphabetical order, followed by other agencies in alphabetical order.
American Library Association (ALA)
Library and Information Technology Association (LITA)
Frederick G. Kilgour Award (with OCLC) ($2,000 plus expense paid trip to ALA Annual Conference)
Winner: Carol C. Kuhlthau, School of Communications, Information, & Library Studies, Rutgers University
Rationale: Kuhlthau’s research has led to the development of the Information Search Process (ISP) model that describes the stages a searcher goes through while seeking information. Her ISP model is amongst the most highly cited works in library and information science and it is one of the conceptualizations most often used by library and information science researchers. Her work carries on the tradition of Kilgour, in its recognition of the centrality of the user in the development of responsive information systems.
Library History Round Table (LHRT)
Donald G. Davis Article Award
Winner: Carl Ostrowski, Middle Tennessee State University
Project: “James Alfred Pearce and the Question of a National Library in Antebellum America,” published in Libraries & Culture, Vol. 35, No. 2, Spring 2000.
Rationale: This article examines the origins of the debate over a national library and the role of Maryland Senator James Alfred Pearce in the resolution of the issue. It demonstrates how legal, social, and intellectual issues influenced key decisions and offers fresh, new insights into the evolution of the Library of Congress as the nation’s library.
Justin Winsor Prize ($500)
Winner: Marek Sroka, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Project: “The Destruction of Jewish Libraries and Archives in Cracow (Krakow) during World War II”
Rationale: The author fills a significant gap in library history by documenting the destruction of a people’s culture, intellectual capital, and memory. Very little has been written in English on the topic of Jewish libraries and archives in Poland and their destruction.
Library Research Round Table (LRRT)
Jesse H. Shera Award for Distinguished Published Research ($500)
Not given in 2002
Jesse H. Shera Award for Excellence in Doctoral Research ($500)
Not given in 2002
One award given by the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) annually, but not always for research, was given for research in 2002. The K.G. Saur Award for the most outstanding article in College & Research Libraries (C&RL) went to Susan Davis Herring for “Faculty Acceptance of the World Wide Web for Students Resources” in the May 2001 issue of College & Research Libraries (C&RL). The award committee noted that Herring’s article “has implications for information literacy instruction, faculty course assignments and students’ ability to do effective research.” The cash award of $500 is funded by K.G. Saur publishing company.
Another award, given annually by the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS), but not always for research was given for research in 2002. The Blackwell’s Scholarship Award given annually to honor the author or authors of the year’s outstanding monograph, article, or original paper in the field of acquisitions, collection development, and related areas of resource development in libraries was given to Richard Meyer, Dean and Director of Libraries at the Georgia Institute of Technology, for his article, “A Tool to Assess Journal Price Discrimination” published in College & Research Libraries, Vol. 62, pp. 269-288. Meyer is one of the first researchers to apply empirical data to a major question in collection development. He builds on previous research, and uses sophisticated analysis to answer the question.
American Society for Information and Technology (ASIST)
ASIS Award for Research in Information Science
Winner: Carol Tenopir, School of Information Services, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Rationale: She is an internationally known researcher with a history of innovative and influential work on databases, online searching, scholarly publishing and other topics central to the interests of ASIST members.
ASIST/UMI Doctoral Dissertation Award
Winner: Pamela Savage Knepshield
Project: “Mental Models: Issues in Construction, Congruency, and Cognition”
Pratt-Severn Best Student Research Paper Award
Winner: Elizabeth Zogby, Drexel University
Project: “Representing Oral history: Challenges and Opportunities for Content-Based Retrieval”
Association for Library & Information Science Education (ALISE)
ALISE Methodology Paper Award
Winners: Lisa M. Given and Hope A. Olson
Project: “Data Preparation Using the Principles of Knowledge Organization: A Guiding Model for Quantitative, Qualitative, and Textual Research Methodologies.”
ALISE – Bohdan S. Wynar Research Paper Competition
No award given in 2002
Eugene Garfield – ALISE Doctoral Dissertation Award ($500 for travel expenses plus 2002 conference registration and membership in ALISE for 2001-2002)
Winner: Soo Young Rieh, Rutgers University
Project: “Information Quality and Cognitive Authority in the World Wide Web.”
Winner: Bradley L. Taylor, University of Michigan
Project: “The Effect of Surrogation on Viewer Response to Expressional Qualities in Works of Art.”
Grants that Support Research
Note: All active grants are listed with amount of the grant, the URL for the grant (if available), and the person(s) and Project(s) who won in 2002. Of the grant was not given in 2002, that fact is noted. General ALA grants are listed first, followed by units of ALA in alphabetical order, and then followed by other agencies in alphabetical order.
American Library Association (ALA)
ALA Research Grant ($25,000)
Not given in 2002
Carroll Preston Baber Research Grant ($7,500)
Winner: Ethelene Whitmire, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Project: “Faculty Research Productivity and Academic Library Resources and Services.” This study will examine the relationship between those variables by using two data sets available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty, and the Academic Library Survey. The researcher will run a series of multiple regressions using SPSS software to test a theoretical model of the relationship between faculty productivity and library resources.
American Association of School Librarians (AASL)
AASL/Highsmith Research Grant ($5,000)
Winners: Linda Jordan and Diane Stanley, Waco, Texas
Project: “Does Accelerated Reader Improve Children’s Reading Ability and Achievement.”
Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)
ACRL/ISI Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship ($1,500)
Winner: Charlotte Ford, Indiana University
Project: “An Exploration of the Differences Between Face-to-Face and Computer-Mediated Reference Interactions.”
Samuel Lazerow Fellowship for Research in Acquisitions or Technical Services in an Academic of Research Library ($1,000)
Winner: Jeffrey Beal, University of Colorado at Denver
Project: To study the impact of bibliographic errors on user access to items in online catalogs.
Coutts Nijhoff International Western European Study Grant (4,500 Euros)
Winner: James P. Niessen, Rutgers University
Project: “German Acquisitions in Hungarian Research Libraries: Cooperative Collection Development in the Twentieth Century.”
Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)
Francis Henne/YALSA/VOYA Research Grant ($500)
Winner: Teri S. Lesesne, Sam Houston State University
Project: “Project H.E.A.R: Help Encourage At-Risk Readers.”
American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST)
ISI/ASIST Citation Analysis Research Grant ($3,000)
Winners: Chaomei Chen, Drexel University
Project: “Tracing the Transfer of Knowledge.” The intention of her research is to provide a set of streamline analytical and visualization tools to the communities of information science and related disciplines and practioners in order to stimulate more studies of three currently peripheral areas of knowledge transfer.
ISI Information Science Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Scholarship ($1,500 plus $500 towards travel or other expenses)
Winner: Joan Bartlett, University of Toronto
Project: Her proposal entitled, “Capturing, Modeling, and Utilizing Bioinformatics Expertise,” will use a task analysis-like technique to reduce the complexity of doing bioinformatics analyses so that genomics data can be exploited by the typical bench scientists who may not have the computing or genomics expertise.
Association for Library & Information Science Education (ALISE)
OCLC/ALISE Research Grant ($10,000 each)
Winner: Jane Greenberg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Project: “Optimizing Metadata Creation: A Model for Integrating Human and Automatic Processes.” Dr. Greenberg’s research will develop a model to facilitate the most efficient and effective means of metadata production by integrating human and automatic processes. Three tiers of metadata will be explored: metadata created by resource authors, catalogers, and automatic processing tools. Protocols will be established for collaboration between resource authors and professionals and for integrating these human metadata generation processes with automatic processes.
Winner: Wonsik Shim, Florida State University
Project: “Reification of Information Seeking Habits.” This study will investigate innovative and effective methods of collecting information about undergraduate students’ information-use habits and factors affecting them. In addition to two existing data collection methods, online surveys and case studies, the study will use personal digital assistants (PDAs) to collect the raw data relating to user information behaviors as they occur in the natural settings.
Winner: Lorna Peterson, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Project: “Operationalizing Barriers in Dissemination of African Research and Scholarship.” Dr. Peterson’s research seeks to operationalize and measure the barriers in the dissemination of indigenous African scholarship at a case-study level. The intended outcome is to move beyond assertion of the problem to a measurement of the problem. This research will assist with the preservation, access, and dissemination of African scholarship, while presenting opportunities for additional research and solutions.
Research Grant Award (one or more grants totaling $5,000)
Not given in 2002.
Medical Library Association (MLA)
ISI/MLA Doctoral Fellowship ($2,000)
Not given in 2002.
MLA Research, Development, and Demonstration Project Grant
Not given in 2002.
Special Libraries Association
Steven I. Goldspiel Memorial Research Grant (up to $20,000)
Winner: Deborah Barreau, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Project: “The New Information Professional: Vision and Practice.” The purpose of Dr. Barreau’s project is to examine a number of questions about new roles for the information professional within a specific corporate domain, the newspaper industry. Typical of special libraries, newspaper libraries exist to serve the parent organization, and professionals must constantly struggle with how best to do this.