1 Dec 2011

To print or not to print

I have to admit that one of the aspects of my job which I treasure the least is dealing with print journals -in every aspect: renewals, missing issues, shelving, the difficulties involved in measuring usage, repairing damaged issues, the idea that users have to physically visit the library to access them, and last but definitely not least, storage.

Aside from my view as a librarian however, as a user I would never consult a journal in print unless it were the only format accessible to me. I find online journals much more convenient and quicker to navigate, and if I really want to read an article in hard copy on the train for example, the option of printing is still there. But yet, my experience is that many users still prefer print journals over e-access only. This is obviously partly a function of the specific nature of the library and users in question, but I do find it strange when I see somebody standing over a photocopier with the latest BMJ when they can access it online from anywhere on-site - including their own desk - without even having the hassle of remembering usernames and passwords etc.

I ask myself if it is perhaps largely an awareness issue; maybe the library is not promoting electronic resources sufficiently? But no, I approach these same users and explain how they can access our journals online, and it seems to have no effect. I wonder is it habit? It can be difficult to change the way you do something after a long time, especially when it is something relatively trivial, such as the way in which you access research and information. Or maybe in fact, some users come to the library to get away from their desk, paperwork, their PCs and other distractions. If we stopped providing print journals would these individuals stop using the library altogether, rather than reluctantly switch to downloading pdfs instead? In some cases, I really do think so.

However, I still hate print journals.

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