Browsing the Intangible: Does Visibility Lead to Increased Use?

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Browsing the Intangible: Does Visibility Lead to Increased Use?
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Tingle, N. & Teeter, K. (2018, February). Browsing the intangible: Does visibility lead to increased use? Technical Services Quarterly, 35(2), 164-174.
Tingle, Natalia
Teeter, Keith
Technical Services Quarterly
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Library collections have become fractured as increased acquisition of ebooks has created hybrid print and digital collections. These developments have implications for user awareness of the most current items in the collection and their ability to understand their relationship to print collections, due to ebooks’ absence in the physical library space. At the William M. White Business Library at the University of Colorado, Boulder, collocated displays are deployed in the print stacks to promote awareness of ebook collections and enable browsing and serendipitous discovery. This project revealed the difficulty of assessing ebook collections and their promotion when many platforms are involved.
Collected for Auraria Institutional Repository by the Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Keith Teeter.
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Auraria Institutional Repository
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Auraria Library
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Copyright Natalia Tingle and Keith Teeter. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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10.25261/IR00000080 ( DOI )


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Browsing the Intangible 1 Title: Browsing the Intangible: Does Visibility Lead to Increased U se? Running head: Browsing the Intangible Abstract: Library collections have become fractured as increased acquisition of ebooks has created hybrid print and digital collections. These developments have implications for user awareness of the most current items in the collection and their ability to understand their ysical library space. At the William M. White Business Library at the University of Colorado, Boulder, collocated displays are deployed in the print stacks to promote awareness of ebook collections and enable browsing and serendipitous discovery. This proj ect revealed the difficulty of assessing ebook collections and their promotion when many platforms are involved. Keywords: ebooks, academic libraries, e resources, book displays, marketing and promotion Authors: Natalia Tingle (corresponding author) is Business Collections & Reference Librarian, Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder 184 UCB, Boulder, CO, 80309 Keith Teeter is Head of Access and Public Services at the Auraria Library, University of Colorado Denver 1100 Lawrence Street, Denver, CO 80204 Acknowledgements This project was possible thanks to a grant from the CU Innovation which was used to purchase materials for the integrated displays. Received: October 1, 2017 Accepted: December 6, 2017


Browsing the Intangible 2 Browsing the Intangible: Does Visibility Lead to Increased Use? The William M. White Business Library is a branch of the University Libraries system at the University of Colorado, Boulder, whose purpose is to meet the research and learning needs of the students, staff, and faculty of the Leeds School of Business. With electronic monograph availability still far from a complete duplication of print availability, the library relies on a hybrid collection to meet user needs. In addition to dozens of databases and hundreds of electronic journal subscriptions, the library ho lds over 20,000 print volumes and offers access to over 22,000 electronic books. The business l ibrary began the mo ve to an e preferred collection development model in late 2011. An unforeseen outcome of this shift was that, when browsing the stacks, the visible collection appears to have frozen in time. Though electronic journal content achieved widespread and overwhelming adoption years ago, similar acceptance of scholarly ebooks has lagged notice ably behind. Over the past 3 years, the business l ibrary h as experienced a 13.6% decline in circulation of materials fr om our on site stacks. While electronic collection usage has increased over the same period, it has not done so at a rate commensurate with the drop in print usage. Considering the importance of currency in business research and our decision to move to an e preferred collection development model, the decrease in collection usage can likely be attributed, in part, to the invisibility of many of the newest materials Anecdotally, many business lib rary patrons commonly associate the library collections with their physical space, within which our electronic collections are not readily visible. Not only does this invisibility l ead these patrons to believe the collections are smaller than they truly ar e but also eliminates an important access point and research me thod. With the adoption of open stack libraries, librarians provided patrons two ways to access materials: searching the catalog


Browsing the Intangible 3 or browsing the shelves. Since ebooks have no physical manifesta tion to shelve, browsing a section of the stacks misses important, current inform ation located only online in electronic collections and reduces the usefulness of browsing as a tool for identifying relevant material. Although much effort has been spent s earching for ways to improve online discovery tools in order to incorporate research on book selection behaviors exhibited in print stacks, little has been done to integrate print and digital collections in a way that enables browsing both formats simultan eously. As long as libraries maintain hybrid collections, providing browsability of each collection separately misses the opportunity to facilitate serendipitous discovery irrespective of format. As libraries pour increasing financial and personnel resou rces into expandin g electronic collections, they should exert similar effort in creating methods of access as was given to print collections in the past. Incorporating digital materials into the print collection whenever possible is one obvious tactic for improving discoverability. Doing so would promote awaren ess of digital materials while appealing to the segment of our user base that has become accustomed to physical books, their organization, and the inherent ability to browse an organized shelf. Lite rature Review When considering the literature to inform this study, two topics proved salient: book selection behaviors and strategies for marketing e resources. While a comprehensive review of the ebook literature prior to 2012 exists (Blummer & Kenton, 2 012), it has been strongly argued that given the rapidly changing nature of the technology surrounding e usefulness declines as time passes ( Becker, 2015 ). With that in mind, this literature review will focus on s tudies conducted after Blummer and and persistent concept or idea.


Browsing the Intangible 4 Book Selection The bulk of the recent literature regarding book selection examines the behaviors exhibited by users when interacting with the print collection. Th e importance of browsing and serendipitous discovery are identified as being of significant importance to not only the selection of materials, but also as an important strategy for identifying relevant information during the research process ( Hinze, McKay, Vanderschantz, Timpany, & Cunningham, 2012 ). Additionally, one s tudy focused on the information seeking and selection behaviors of historians ( Martin & Quan Haase, 2016; Martin & Quan Haase, 2013 ), and another on computer scientists ( Stelmaszewska & Bland ford, 2004 ), both studies demonstrating similarities in seeking and selection behaviors that indicate the importance of these concepts across disciplines. Each of these studies also examines the limitations of digital environments in providing browsing and serendipitous discovery, and each makes suggestions for improving them by designing digital libraries and catalogs to mimic the beneficial characteristics of print stacks. However, these studies lack discussion of how the existence of separate physical an d digital coll ections influences the information seeking and selection process. In addition to demonstrating the relevance of proximity when users are searching for information, these studies also examine the factors influencing ultimate selection of mate rials for further use. Typically, the findings indicate that after locating the relevant area of the stacks, patrons used cues from the materials themselves to make selections. Studies consistently identified book covers, as well as information about the i tem such as table of contents and summaries, as important selection influences ( Stelmaszewska & Blandford, 2004, Tingle & Tovstiadi, 2016; Hinze, et al. 2012 ). Only one of these studies attempts to use these factors to promote digital materials in a physi cal environment (Tingle & Tovstiadi, 2016). Discussion in


Browsing the Intangible 5 each of these studies indicates a belief that these factors are also likely to be important to digital content discovery and selection. Marketing E Resources Commonly cited works suggest that a lac collections among our users is significant, ranging from 28.9% ( Levine Clark, 2006 ) to 33% ( Soules, 2009 ) to 45% ( Shelburne, 2009 ) to 52% ( Library Journal [LJ], 2012 ) to 56% ( LJ 2016 ). In their survey of university students in China, Wang and Bai (2016) discovered that 70% of respondents did not know that the library had been providing e (p. 25 3). Meanwhile, a 2011 study of seven academic libraries revealed a lack of a formalized strategy for marketing e resources, despite a general recognition of that need. Most frequently, the promotion that did occur typically centered on library websites, OPACs, and user education ( Vasileiou & Rowley, 2011 ). Likewise, the Blummer and Kenton literature review presents a strong focus on digital promotion techniques (2012). However, as described above, many have found that a purely digital marketing strategy presents difficulties for browsing and serendipitous discovery resea rch methods. Recognizing this reality, many studies have been conducted on the efficacy of marketing techniques within the physical library space for increasing awareness and use of digital collections. In an attempt to better integrate physical and digit al collections, many have come back to updating the traditional book display. One study of a series of displays in an academic library using physical books noted a 27% increase in the number of items that were checked out once and a 14% increase in items t hat were checked out multiple times for titles located in the display compared to those in the stacks, indicating the usefulness of such a strategy ( Aloi, Esposito, Gotsch, Holliday, & Kretz, 2007).


Browsing the Intangible 6 More recently, attempts have been made to apply the succ ess of physical book displays to the promotion of digital collections in the physical space. A study at Brigham Young University created displays of books on business topics that used physical books and supplemented them with LibGuide lists of relevant ebo oks. Acknowledging the importance of visually attractive covers, printed placards featuring cover art were printed to replace absent dust jackets or items that were checked out. They noted overall average checkouts per month increased by 58.2%, with the hi ghest change occurring in general business (100% increase) and finance (83% increase) subject areas ( Camacho, Spackman, & Cluff, 2014 ). Another study attached printed covers and summary information for ebooks in their collection, along with Quick Response Codes ( QR codes ) l inking to the ebooks, to wood blocks that were displayed in a prominent location in the library. However, systematic assessment was not performed ( Reese, 2014 ). A study cond ucted by the author using mixed format displays separate from the stacks showed little overall impact on use, except for a display that combined cover art and summary information for the ebooks selected (Tingle & Tovstiadi, 2016). Results from an effort to promote supplementary e resource materials using QR codes for a to indicate the potential for strategies that link materials that are relevant to others already in use (Baker, 2010), strengthening the case for facilitating strong topical connections. Other studies have integrated the displays into the stacks to collocate e resources with their print counterparts to promote browsing. QR codes appear frequently in these articles as the link between the physical and digital collections, but t heir deployment and use of book selection facto rs varies. One study at two medical libraries placed QR codes, linked to lists of ebooks on specific topics, in the corresponding section of the physical stacks. The authors found that use of the QR codes was low, but overall use of the collection was high which they believe may indicate the usefulness of this strategy to promote aw areness, if not direct use. Researchers also received anecdotal evidence that users may have preferred the QR code to


Browsing the Intangible 7 direct them to a specific ebook ( Ratajeski & Kraft, 2015 ). The University of Saskatchewan used direct links through paper markers placed near the appropriate call number with a QR code link to the ebook, but included only the title, author, and call number in the physical display. Furthermore, assessment was not p erformed to determine its success ( Maddison, 2014 ). The Zombie Library project at Idaho State University comes closest to directly incorporating the digital collection into the physical stacks by creating dummy books with covers, titles, call numbers, QR c odes, and bibliographic information. While they experienced little use during the study period, only the reference collection was included and summaries or table of contents were not placed on the dummies ( Semenza, Koury, & Gray, 2013 ). Overall, there exi sts a significant body of literature drawing on selection behaviors in the print collection for improving user experience with ebooks in a digital environment and on marketing e resources within the physical library. These lessons indicate th e importance of browsing as a research tool, cover art and contents to aid selection, and the potential of displays to promote awareness and use. However, no single study has systematically assessed the use of a marketing strategy that incorporates all of these factors. Furthermore, there are no best practices for marketing ebooks or other e resources. Method A 2016 weeding project remov ed around 3,000 items from the business l ibrary stacks. Streamlining the collection to the most current and relevant materials mak es the collection easier for users to use, but, as many of the recent purchases were in electronic format, the collection development appeared to have peaked in 20 12. To increase awareness of current collections, the business l ibrarian selecte d three sets of ebooks to highlight at differe nt times


Browsing the Intangible 8 throughout the year. The researchers anticipated that by promoting a few titles, awareness and therefore usage would increase for all business ebooks. The weeding project resulted in in creased shelf space, allowing librarians to develop collocated displays within the stacks. The items in some areas were sparser than in ot hers, and those vacant shelves were noted as possible locations for the first integrated display locations. Researchers also analyze d trends in the print circu lation to identify popular call number areas that may look sparse due to the books being currently in use. Using the create lists function in Sierra, integrated library s ystem, and the acq uisitions profile as a gu ide, researchers generated a lis t of all the ebooks available within the business l ibra number areas (researchers are fortunate that the technical services f the ebook catalog records). Re searchers compared the list of eb ooks with a similar list of print materials. Nearly all of the business l ass, although the business library also hold s several hundred item s in B, G, and T. The H class is v ery broad and the call numbers (e.g., HD9000. U5 2016) can be very narrow, so librarians chose to shorten the call numbers in the lists to the subclass level (e.g., HD30 or HF5415) to create manageable groups. In the cases where the subclass is s till very large (500+ items), researchers examined a more specific subclass (e.g., HD30.2 or HF5415.5) to illuminate topical trends. Researchers divided the ebook list into five spreadsheets, each covering on e or two LC subclasses. They excluded records for patron driven ebooks and publication dates prior to 2015. Drawing on circulation statistics for the p rint collection and the areas flagge d during the


Browsing the Intangible 9 weeding project, researchers looked for ebooks already in the collection that could fill the gaps and that coul d potentially be popular items. R e searchers made an effort to display titles from a wide range of platforms rather than limit to one or two vendors. Lastly, researchers searched for each highlighted title to include only those items with visually interestin g covers. This narrowed the list significantly. Due to the availability of ebooks that matched all of the criteria, we expanded the list to include some older (2012 and 2013) items. Areas lacking new ebooks or ebooks with interesting covers were noted for future acquisition. Researchers selected 53 titles for the integrated display. Drawing from the book selection literature, covers and small, descriptive blurbs were collected for each item to provide users the information necessary to decide its usefulnes s. We printed full of the covers to fit our single side countertop clear plastic sign holders. Since we wanted to enable browsing of the selected ebooks in the context of the wider literature and to promote serendipitous discovery, we needed to place them next to print books covering the same subject. To accomplish this, we noted the call number of the ebook on the back of each cover image. At the beginni ng of the display period, each was deployed to the appropriate shelf i n the print stacks (see Figure 1). [Insert Figure 1 ] Assessment of the display was measured through the collection and analysis of the ebook usage statistics. Working closely with our e resources staff, we attempted to gather usage data from the vendors for each title in the display.


Browsing the Intangible 10 Results The 53 selected titles come from a wide variety of platforms and provide a good representation of the overall business l ibrary collection. A small number of items came from outside of the class, but the sample was largely made up of materials from the H class. This is similar to the overall collection and thus this small pool of titles serves as a microcosm for the collection as a whole. In ad diti on, 11 ebook platforms were represented, which is a small percentage of the available platforms but nonetheless emblematic of the avail ability of ebook titles in the business l ibrary collection. The COUNTER (Counting Online Usage of Networked Electro nic Resources) Code of Practice is the guiding framework for consistent e resource usage reporting. The increasing adoption of COUNTER compliant usage reporting has made it more possible to track and compare usage of ebook collections within platforms. How ever, as vendors are able to define for themselves what constitutes a section use (e.g., chapter, page), the comparability between platforms is imperfect. To account for the potential discrepancies or divergent definitions, we adopted a simple binary (i.e. Used/Not Used) model for assessment of the displayed titles. [Insert Figure 2] In the course of the display period, 7 of the 53 titles were used at least once (see Figure 2), indicating a use rate of 13.2%. The previous display experiment had a use rate of 12.3% across three displays. It is possible that the integrated displays were slightly more successful than the stand alone displays, but a .9% difference is not sufficient to be certain. Having experimented with both types of displays, it appears to us that there is potentially equal value in both and libraries with limited shelf space or lacking a dedicated display area could achieve the


Browsing the Intangible 11 same outcome using either method. Compared to the estimated use of the business ebooks in 2016 overall (10.82% ), the titles in the integrated display showed slightly more use. While the 2016 data is an estimate, it i s based on available data and is a necessary consequence of the difficulty in acquiring the data. Discussion Of the platforms represen ted in the d isplay, patrons used only items from three. However, only nine of the eleven included platforms provide title level usage data. Thus, there is no way to know whether the titles from those platforms that were displayed we re used. For the purpose of this ass essment, those items were counted as not having been used. It is difficult to determine success of an ebook marketing or promotional effort when data about the outcomes is lacking. Any effort to create a multi platform promotional effort is likely to encou nter the same difficulties and will require significant effort on the front end to ensure the ability to collect the necessary data. Nearly all of the vendors in our study which supply COUNTER compliant usage reports use the BR2 R4 (Counter Release 4, Bo ok Report 2: Number of Successful Section Req uests by Month and Title) format. The consistency of formatting and time period are critical to comparative assessment. However, during the assessment piece of this project, the zero use data would have been ext remely helpful. Few vendors provide it, and the COUNTER Code of Practice does not require zero use to be reported. This omission is understandable, but it does impact the ability to assess collection s Data driven collection development is only as good as the data used to make the decisions. Beyond the two included platforms that do not pr ovide title level usage data,


Browsing the Intangible 12 researchers encountered several other hurdles in gathering the data, ranging from delays in releasing the data to conflicting numbers when t he same report was run at different times. These factors, taken together, create significant problems for assessing a hybrid collection. As libraries evolve from offering content through a single ebook provider to content on a wide range of platforms, gath ering assessment data may require even more time and effort. Conclusion With the move forward into hybrid print and digital collections, it is important to remember the principle s of our professional past. Librarians are responsible for ensuring the us efu lness and discoverability of collections. As laid out by S.R. Ranganathan (1931 ), librarians must work to ensure readers find the boo ks they need and use systems that save This responsibility includes developing a collection based on user r equirements, promoting a wareness of that collection, developing library arrangements and establishing practices that allow users to find materials as efficiently as possible. While significant effort has been applied to ensuring that physical and digital collections provide flexible searching and browsing access points, less has been done to enable such access across formats, leaving users to explore those intersections on their own. Finding ways to collocate digital collections within the print stacks pr esents an opportunity for librarians to mitigating the need to search and browse each format separately. Furthermore, given the demonstrated lack of user awareness of digital collections, such effort provides an important opportunity to reveal these hidden materials and help users connect to the material they need.


Browsing the Intangible 13 third law also implores librarians to be intentional about collection development and to ensure that it meets the needs of users. The difficulties experienced assessing the efficacy of this ebook promotion project point to a stumbling block in the applica tion of this traditional librarian role. To make good collection development and promotion decisions, complete and useable data needs to be available. Although we find the slight increase in use of integrated display titles over separate display titles a nd as compared to the overall ebook collection encouraging, we hesitate to affirm our method as definitive. After this initial study, we have continued to collect use data for all of 2017 with the intent to analyze trends over a full year. The use of yearl ong data will allow us to explore whether marketing a small subset of titles increases overall use of business ebook titles.


Browsing the Intangible 14 References Aloi, M. J., Esposito, L., Gotsch, J. R., Holliday, D., & Kretz, C. (2007). Technology of displays. Technical Servic es Quarterly, 24 (4), 15 27. doi: 10.1300/J124v24n04_02 Baker, L. (2010). Making physical objects clickable: Using mobile tags to enhance library displays. Journal of Library Innovation, 1 (2), 22 28. Retrieved from raryinnovation/ Becker, B. W. (2015). Ebooks in the library: The current state of research. Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, 34 (4), 230 233. doi:10.1080/01639269.2015.1096156 Blummer, B., & Kenton, J. (2012). Best practices for integrating e boo ks in academic libraries: A literature review from 2005 to present. Collection Management, 37 (2), 65 97. doi:10.1080/01462679.2012.660851 Camacho, L., Spackman, A., & Cluff, D. (2014). Face out: The effect of book displays on collection usage. Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 19 (2), 114 124. doi:10.1080/08963568.2014.883874 Hinze, A., McKay, D., Vanderschantz, N., Timpany, C., & Cunningham, S. J. (2012). Book selection behavior in the physical library: Implications for ebook collections. Proc eedings of the 12th ACM/IEEE CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (pp. 305 314). New York, NY, USA: ACM. doi:10.1145/2232817.2232874 Levine Clark, M. (2006). Electronic book usage: A survey at the University of Denver. portal: Libraries and the Academ y, 6 (3), 285 299. doi:10.1353/pla.2006.0041 Library Journal (LJ). (2012). E book usage in US academic libraries. Retrieved from Library Journal (LJ). (2016). E book usage in US academic libraries. Retrieved from Maddison, T. (2014, Winter). E resource discovery: A collection development strategy for engineering E books. Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship, (75). doi: 10.5062/F4W66HRK Martin, K., & Quan Haase, A. (2013). Are e books replacing print books? Tradition, serendipity, and opportunity in the adoption and use of e books for historical research and teaching. Journal of the American Society for Information Sci ence and Technology, 64 (5), 1016 1028. doi:10.1002/asi.22801


Browsing the Intangible 15 Martin, K., & Quan serendipity in physical and digital information environments. Journal of Documentation, 72 (6), 1008 1026. do i:10.1108/JD 11 2015 0144 Ranganathan, S. R. (1931). The five laws of library science Madras: The Madras Library Association. Retrieved from$b99721 Ratajeski, M. A., & Kraft, M. A. (2015). Use of QR codes to promote e boo ks in medical libraries. Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries, 12 (1), 11 24. doi:10.1080/15424065.2014.1002028 Reese, P. E. (2014, Summer). Creating a featured book display when most of the books are e books. Issues in Science and Technolo gy Librarianship, (77). doi:10.5062/F4TB14WP Semenza, J. L., Koury, R., & Gray, C. (2013). The zombie library: Books reanimated via QR codes. Collection Building, 32 (2), 46 50. doi:10.1108/01604951311322011 Shelburne, W. A. (2009). E book usage in an aca demic library: User attitudes and behaviors. Library Collections, Acquisitions, & Technical Services, 33 (2 3), 59 72. doi:10.1080/14649055.2009.10766234 Soules, A. (2009). The shifting landscape of e books. New Library World, 110 (1/2), 7 21. doi:10.1108/0 3074800910928559 Stelmaszewska, H., & Blandford, A. (2004). From physical to digital: A case study of computer International Journal on Digital Libraries, 4 (2), 82 92. doi:10.1007/s00799 003 0072 6 Tingle, N., & Tovstiadi, E. (2016). The impact of physical book displays on business e book use. Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 21 (1), 26 37. doi:10.1080/08963568.2015.1110230 Vasileiou, M., & Rowley, J. (2011). Marketing and promotion of e books in ac ademic libraries. Journal of Documentation, 67 (4), 624 643. doi:10.1108/00220411111145025 Wang, S., & Bai, X. (2016). University students awareness, usage and attitude towards e books: Experience from China. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 42 (3), 2 47 258. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2016.01.001


Browsing the Intangible 16 Figure 1. Example ebook display item.


Browsing the Intangible 17 Figure 2. Percentage of ebooks with use.