Not Going to the Library First? Ithaka Releases 2009 Survey Results

James Harker
May 05, 2010
Image of the Ithaka logo.

Ithaka is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping the academic community take advantage of developing digital technologies.  One of their projects has been a survey of faculty intended to find trends in research strategies. The full report is freely available here.

One of the interesting trends that Ithaka has observed involves the "starting point" for academic research projects.  Since 2003, Ithaka has been asking in surveys where faculty members begin their research process.  In the 2009 survey, the physical library is the starting point for only 30% of humanities scholars, while a specific electronic research resource and a general purpose web search comprise the majority of starting points.

Ithaka has also traced perceptions of what the library's role is in academic research.  The understanding of the library as a "gateway" for research has been declining since 2003, while the understanding of the library as an "archive" has remained fairly steady.  Understanding the library as a "buyer" has risen since 2003, now considered of key importance by over 90% of faculty. Ithaka summarizes these findings: "Faculty members are reducing their usage of local library services for discovery purposes and, as a result, put less value on the library‟s traditional intellectual value-added role as a gateway to information. Faculty members, by comparison, most strongly support and appreciate the library‟s infrastructural roles, in which it acquires and maintains collections of materials on their behalf."

Check out Ithaka's website for more information about their research and ideas about the evolving relationship between academic research and digital tools.