Tag Archives: Education

Gen Y The Greatest Generation – Seriously?

According to some psychologists who have analyzed results of the most recent American Freshman Survey, which has been asking students to rate themselves compared to their peers since 1966, the survey shows that present U.S. college students feel more entitled than ever and that there is a disconnect between students self-assessed value and their actual abilities. The issues of Gen Y thinking they are the greatest generation were discussed among a news commentator and panel that included noted “Gen Y Guy” Jason Ryan Dorsey. Listen to the discussion for yourself.

What’s your opinion / experience?


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Why Not a Bachelor in Library Science? – Still Asking

Even though I haven’t written about this topic since April, thoughts on it are never too far from my mind, especially when I have comments on the post from readers who just discovered it. That’s what has happened recently, so I wanted to add some more discussion on this topic – Why not a bachelor’s degree in library science?

To date, no one has offered any good educational, managerial, career or workforce related reason why it is not a good idea.

My arguments have included my post from last December – Library Science Ranks #4 in Highest Unemployment, and the job market – as well as the economy – show no signs of improvement any time soon.

The old argument about library technicians do a more technical and specific job, while “Librarians” (meaning MLS degreed) are generalists and management candidates that can do everything DOES NOT HOLD WATER! It’s simply RHETORIC to justify the arbitrary distinctions between “professional” and “para-professional!” No one with only an MLS degree and no library experience is a qualified manager. Someone who has earned a BS in librarianship, worked in a library and then earned an MLIS has the prerequisite skills and experience to be a capable manager. That’s the way careers are built!

Everyone knows that there is virtually no authority (i.e., government, librarian union, etc.) that dictates who can and cannot do certain librarianship tasks within a library organization. THIS APPROACH – “OK, since you don’t have an MLS, you can only do these limited tasks within the library organization, and since you do have an MLS, you can do all the rest of the tasks that “Librarians” do.” – DOES NOT HAPPEN! All “librarians” do everything!

Why is the MLS entry level for this profession when recent college graduates can’t find jobs because they don’t have experience? Just read the over 40 comments to Annoyed Librarian at LibraryJournal.com, and you’ll see this current career system is broken!

History reveals what happened in the librarian profession as it transitioned through academy training to university certification to bachelor’s degree and then master’s, but the WHY is still elusive. Some speculate that it was an ALA effort to legitimize librarian as a true profession in the 1960s. However, as far back as 1923, a bachelor’s degree was still not the standard within the US. The Williamson Report, officially titled “Training for Library Service” A Report Prepared for The Carnegie Corporation of New York by Dr. Charles C. Williamson, (1923) contains disturbing similarity to today’s SLIS situation, as well as endorsement for the bachelor’s degree in library science as the standard.


Obviously there is no agreement among the schools as to the relative importance of the different subjects in the curriculum. The amount of time given to a subject seems to depend on the personal opinion or desires of the instructor or the principal. While considerable interest has been manifested in discussions as to what should constitute the minimum essential instruction in cataloguing, apparently no effort has been made by the Association of American Library Schools to arrive at minimum standards for the course in cataloguing. Complaint is common that the curriculum is overcrowded, while important new subjects are clamoring for admission. The school that succeeds in giving its students the essentials of cataloguing in thirty-five hours, while others require two or three times that length of time, can take up other subjects that may be more important for the general professional course.

There are many more similarities in the Williamson Report to conditions within the librarian profession in 1923 that have not noticeably changed by 2012, but those are resources for other discussions. On the matter of library science degrees, Williamson reported the following.

[Page 69] A considerable proportion of the fifty per cent of library school graduates who have the college degree did not take a four-year college course and then the library school course, but took both in four years, receiving college credit for the library courses. …
Graduates of any accredited library school may be permitted, in individual cases, to offer certain library courses for the bachelor’s degree; but college faculties are not always willing to give full academic credit, particularly for technical courses.

[Page 70] One of the fundamental viewpoints of this report is that professional library work requires a college education or its full equivalent. Three years of college study, however, are better than two, and two are better than none. … The joint course plan as described above, in which three years of college work are followed by one year devoted exclusively to library school study, is to be preferred to the Simmons College plan, in which the library courses are spread throughout the four years.

A committee of the Association of American Library Schools has recently considered the subject of professional degrees for library courses. In its report it is recommended that the B.L.S. degree be recognized as the professional degree to be conferred on the completion of a course of two years of professional and technical study, for admission to which a four-year college course is required.

Even though Williamson’s report indicates that the MLS was emerging as a status degree for the profession at the time, the BLS was considered the necessary “standard” for the profession.

According to John Richardson, Jr. of UCLA, History of American Library Science: Its Origins and Early Development Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Ed. Mary N. Maack and Marcia Bates. Francis and Taylor, 2010., the MLS as the professional standard was adopted in 1951.

• 1930: First PhD in library science: Eleanor Upton at University of Chicago.

• 1949: Twenty-seven of the thirty-two accredited schools adopt the new MLS degree (or in process of doing so); ….

• 1951, July: ALA adopts new Standards of Accreditation making MLS entry level degree. ….

• 1966: ALA establishes Office for Library Education; …
1968: ALA’s COA establishes subcommittees on undergraduate and graduate standards for accreditation. ….

Which begs the question – If the MLS was the accredited “entry level degree” in 1951, why in 1968 was ALA still reviewing undergraduate standards for education? My speculation was that many library schools were still offering the undergraduate degree, and ALA felt the need to regulate those out of existence. Which also begs the question – Why?

Today BS programs ALREADY EXIST in Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine and North Carolina. Remember Maine’s Information and Library Service Program operating since 2004? Decades ago the Maine State Librarian went to UMA (which is not a graduate-degree granting institution), and asked about offering librarianship programs for their diverse library community, partly because UMA was exploring distance education. Maine has experienced an evolving recognition of a “career ladder” within the segments of their librarian profession that supports a BS as entry level and MILS for advancement, because students graduate with a confidence in their ability to be immediately effective in their first library position. The University of Maine, Augusta BS program is very much oriented toward the practical application of librarianship, compared to the theoretical perspective of an MLS program.

Also, the State of Kentucky has put forth excellent justification FOR a bachelor degree in librarianship.

1. In Kentucky there is a gap in education for library staff and future MLS librarians. A state law requires all public library employees to be certified. … There was a gap in education between the Associate degree and the Master of Library Science offered at the University of Kentucky.

2. We believe that librarians, especially public librarians, are called upon to do much more than their earlier counterparts. Skills in technology, management, marketing, and finance are needed for the 21st Century Librarian. Can all this be learned in the 36 credit hours of most Master’s programs?

3. Rural librarianship! In Kentucky, almost one-third of our rural library directors do not have an undergraduate degree. Salaries are low and it is almost impossible to recruit a MLS librarian to these areas.

Also, the prestigious University of North Carolina Chapel Hill SLIS Dual Bachelor’s – Master’s Program could be a model for every SLIS.

The BSIS and Master’s programs prepare students for careers in public, private, and governmental institutions of all kinds as information system analysts, designers and developers, data managers, web designers, librarians, archivists, and similar areas. The SILS curricula offer students a sound foundation of coursework, augmented by projects, internships (field experience), and research opportunities that contribute to making SILS graduates highly sought after by employers.

With this kind of horsepower behind a BS in library science, maybe we’ll see some movement in this direction – eventually.


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The Lamentable Loss of America’s Literacy

While I was on vacation last week, I heard some very disturbing news. My state has adopted the Common Core State Standards curriculum that eliminates ‘cursive writing skills’ from the core curriculum of public schools. I was shocked. Shocked that any state would do such a thing, and shocked to learn that 45 states had already slipped past my notice. I’ve been writing that “education reform” is a major factor in the environment that is affecting the library in the 21st Century, but who would have thought it would go that far. I guess anyone can suffer from short sightedness.

How I missed this School Library Journal article from July 19, 2011, is a mystery that upsets me, but not nearly as much as what this “reform” is doing to education of young people. According to this Cursive Out Of Common Core Standards, But Still Hanging On article;

Currently, 46 states have adopted the Common Core curriculum, bringing some commonality to what all students are expected to learn across the country – and eventually, what they will be tested on as well. While most educators agree that keyboarding – or learning how to use a computer’s keyboard – is a critical skill in our increasingly digital age, there are still uses for handwriting, albeit fewer.

Despite the fact that the Common Core website shows only 45 states have adopted the curriculum, I’m still in shock. Actually, I was stunned a few years ago when I was close to a boy and girl (brother and sister of relatives) who were in middle school and had the worst handwriting I’d ever seen, and could not read cursive at their grade level. I later understood a bit more when I came across Jason Dorsey: The Gen-Y Guy and his video where he laments about the millennial who couldn’t read a handwritten note from his boss.

But, I honestly did not have that cognitive “moment” where I really understood that our society is becoming less literate than ever until I heard that cursive writing is out of the core curriculum across most of America. I’ve even seen that lack of ability to write cursive can inhibit reading comprehension skills. So, now we won’t be able to read or write? WHOSE ASININE IDEA WAS THIS?

No doubt some of you are wondering why in this Information Age of technology and computers – when I’ve written that we’ll soon be able to simply speak to computers and not even keyboard – that I should be shocked. It’s like the SLJ article states;

Some note that as fewer students are taught cursive, the ability to read historical documents may decrease – much like an ancient language slowly disappearing from common use.

How sad that is! It’s not that our language – the basis of our culture – is dying during our lifetime, it’s that we’re deliberately killing it! To be replaced by what? Some texting shorthand jargon that few non-digital natives understand? TM IM TILII. (Trust me, I’m telling it like it is.)

So what? How does this impact the librarianship profession?
How difficult do you think it will be:
– to work with young people who can’t read cursive?
– to answer reference questions from people who can’t write – only type?
– to help a customer with a call number in their best handwriting?

Although, the advantages to the profession will be:
– not having to erase writing from books,
– not having to erase writing from drymark boards or walls,
– not having to remove writing from bathroom stalls,

I’m sure many of you can recognize the disadvantages to any society that is unable to write or read its own language except in computer text. Tell us what they are. I’m too stunned to think of them all.

My initial review of the Common Core Standards revealed that the word “cursive” was not in the Standards – anywhere. A reader comment prompted me to more closely read the Standards for reading and writing requirements. I’m not encouraged.

Under “Language Standards” the Kindergartners (under the Conventions of Standard English section), are supposed to “1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.” by (among other skills) “a. Print many upper- and lowercase letters.” Grade 1 students are supposed to “a. Print all upper- and lowercase letters.” (Pg. 26) That’s it. Writing letters is not mentioned again.

Under “Writing Standards” (which one would think included “writing” letters – silly me), Kindergartners (under the Production and Distribution of Writing section) are supposed to “6. With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers. (Pg. 19) Grade 3 students are supposed to “6. With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others. (Pg. 21)

My more informed concern now is that after Grade 1, kids will no longer be expected to handwrite anything, they will be expected to increase their “keyboarding” skills. Even in Kindergarten kids can produce written documents using “technology to produce and publish writing.” There is NO expectation for kids to EVER use handwriting!

Maybe this falls under the “everything I need to know in life I learned in Kindergarten” philosophy, but I still think it’s leading to a disastrous future for literacy. Like I wrote – WHOSE ASININE IDEA WAS THIS?


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L-Schools and I-Schools Embracing D-Schools?

We can only hope! But, if you’re like most librarians, you have no clue what this means. It means that Library schools and Information schools should consider embracing some of the curriculum of Design schools. Interesting.

Designing Better Libraries Blog is all about “exploring the application of design, innovation and new media to create better libraries and user experiences.”

Design, as we conceive it, is a way of examining library services and reengineering them to make them more accessible to patrons. … we are entering a time when our traditional techniques for developing new services may be inadequate for serving a new generation of library users with their own unique search behaviors and service expectations. To address these changes, we advocate a kind of design thinking informed by processes developed by major design firms and design schools that emphasizes a novel approach to devising and implementing new ideas in libraries.

A recent Post titled L-Schools and I-Schools Should Take A Closer Look At D-Schools caught my attention as much for the Huh? factor as for the innovative approach to improving library services and user experiences – something that libraries desperately need to remain relevant.

According to the Wall Street Journal (watch the video) D-Schools [Design Schools] are hot and B-Schools [Business Schools] are not. The WSJ is acknowledging an important trend within B-Schools that has been growing in popularity for a few years. While it’s true that a few forward thinking business schools, most notably the Rotman School of Business (U of Toronto) and the Weatherhead School (Case Western) have integrated design thinking into their curriculum, the vast majority of business schools are still offering the same traditional courses and career paths for their MBA students. Moving to a design thinking influenced curriculum makes good sense because more businesses are making use of design thinking and looking to hire those who can bring more of these skills to their companies. At my own institution, the Fox School of Business includes the Center for Design and Innovation, where the faculty are exploring the intersection of design and business, and exposing the newest MBA students to the design inquiry process, a variant on design thinking.

This whole trend speaks to the assertions I’ve been making that librarians must develop business acumen, and libraries must be run more business like. Despite the fact that many librarians resist the idea that ROI is appropriate for libraries, the fact remains that funding agencies require it. It’s a done deal, so libraries had better get with the program or face outsourcing, or an even worse fate – closure.

The author goes on to elaborate on the situation by stating;

Perhaps now is the right time for L-Schools (Library) and I-Schools (Information) to take a closer look into this trend, and consider how to integrate design thinking into the curriculum that prepares future library professionals. I made this suggestion in a post a few years ago, and there was a mixed reaction – everything from “Who is he to tell us how to design our curriculum” to “Sounds like an interesting idea” to “I’m already doing this”. The lack of enthusiasm for my suggestion was likely owing to a lack of familiarity with design thinking. Courses on library instruction, human-computer interaction or usability studies may include some elements of design, but it would be completely different to integrate design thinking philosophy into the curriculum – so that every graduate has internalized the design inquiry process as a problem-solving methodology.

And, he ends the Post with this plea.

We need LIS graduates with those traditional skills that prepare them for library work. We have a greater need for students who are savvy problem solvers. With the wicked problems confronting the library profession, we need colleagues who can design elegant solutions. Design thinking skills could help our future librarians be the kind of problem solvers and decision makers that can tackle any challenging no matter what area of librarianship is involved. That’s what design thinkers do – they figure out what the real problem is and design a solution. Perhaps some L-Schools and I-Schools will seriously look into the D-School trend, with an intent to use it as a model for future curriculum development. If the goal is to create better libraries, shouldn’t it start with how we prepare future librarians? In the meantime, is it possible that more libraries will just start hiring D-School graduates? I think some already are or will do so soon. [Emphasis added.]

While I’m less generous with my assessment of today’s SLIS curriculum than this author, ANY incorporation of ANY 21st Century topics to better prepare librarians for the future they will face would be an improvement. If business is trending toward design skills, SLIS had better take a close look at providing something cutting edge before Librarians are considered antiquated academics.

Don’t believe me, but consider the Forbes article published June 8, The Best And Worst Master’s Degrees For Jobs that ranked librarianship as “the worst master’s degree for jobs right now.”

Library and information science degree-holders bring in $57,600 mid-career, on average. Common jobs for them are school librarian, library director and reference librarian, and there are expected to be just 8.5% more of them by 2020. The low pay rank and estimated growth rank make library and information science the worst master’s degree for jobs right now.

Even Will Manley thinks the MLS will not recover when the economy does. In his June 5 Post for american libraries, he states “Ah, but when the economy recovers (and there are hopeful signs on the horizon that a recovery has started) won’t the librarian job market recover along with it? … Not necessarily.”

The massive budget cuts of the last five years have forced school, academic, and public libraries to learn to function with fewer and fewer MLS holders, and library users don’t seem to notice the difference. Can they tell that there are fewer new books to choose from? Absolutely. Do they realize that there are longer and longer waits for popular ebooks? Absolutely. Do they notice when main library hours are slashed and branches are closed? Absolutely. Do they know when a professional librarian has been replaced with a paraprofessional or even a clerical person? Rarely, if ever. To the average American, a librarian is a person who works in a library.

Don’t be shocked that school boards, university administrators, city councils, city managers, library boards, and even library directors are taking close notice of this lack of perception. Yes, people still want libraries. That’s not the issue at all. No, I take that back. That is precisely the issue. People want libraries so desperately that they are quite willing to sacrifice the cost of professional staff to get full hours and robust book budgets restored.

While I disagree with Will that people want libraries so badly they’re willing to have them with less qualified and capable staff, my perception is that the MLS has not kept pace with the changing times, and as noted above the current MLS borders on useless. One of Will’s commenters agrees. Furio wrote; “I finished my master’s degree and I didn’t learn anything beyond what I’ve already learned by working from the bottom up. I just came out of the program with a debt that I’m still paying. Many MLS graduates don’t have the experience required to work in libraries. Those who said that the MLS degree helped them to get new skills are those who have never work in a library setting. That’s the reality.”

Hey, SLIS – This is a Wake-UP Call! Your vanilla MLS is useless in the 21st Century!


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Zombie Librarianship

What a great perspective on our profession. Sally Pewhairangi’s Blog post at finding heroes borrowed the concept from John Quiggin’s book Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us. The premise was highly fitting to the free market economic situation after the ‘crash’ in 2008, and it certainly is relevant to librarianship today. Many in our profession seem to be wandering aimlessly looking for some place to fit in – as opposed to coming alive and creating their future library state.

Librarians have held on to many old beliefs because we’ve always done it that way and no one has stepped forward to replace those ideas. Sally recognized that there are at least –

7 dead ideas that still walk among us
1. Social media is not worth worrying about.
2. Librarians know what is best for their customers.
3. Committees and working parties can create innovative services.
4. Blocked websites are something libraries have to put up with.
5. Organisational models based on the industrial age still work.
6. ‘Provide and pray’ is not a bad investment.
7. Google and Amazon are the bad guys.

She feels elaborating on those seven ideas is unnecessary, which may be an overestimation of her profession’s members, but concludes with her own “top five reasons for keeping the zombies in librarianship.”

1. You don’t have time.
You have 24 hours just like anyone else and you just can’t fit any more in. You’re already working 10-12 hour days, and you can’t delay one thing for this. Don’t worry, it’s the most common and obvious reason for zombie librarianship.
2. You don’t have the budget or resources.
Money (and resources) is tight (as always) and is already committed to other projects. It’ll have to wait until the next budget round, as will killing those zombies.
3. It’s not your job.
You don’t get paid to do this. You don’t care if it could fast-track your career. You’ve got a monthly report to write, the usual meetings to attend and Lorna’s morning tea to go to. The walking-dead.
4. You tried this before and it didn’t work.
The situation is exactly the same as it was 5 years ago when you attempted to get this off the ground. There’s no way it will work now.
5. The company isn’t in the gaming industry, we make consumer electronics.
Why would we want to invest in gaming, when consumer electronics is working well for us? This is a bit left-field isn’t it? Let’s stick with what we know works.

I’m going to go out on a short limb here and say that her suggestions are intended facetiously. Her final question for readers, and the whole profession is – “Will you fight with or against the zombies?”

She is absolutely right – it’s time to chose sides people! But, I think there should be more zombie librarianship ideas added to this list.
8. Librarianship still consists of only collecting, organizing, archiving, and disseminating information.
9. The library paradigm didn’t change when the Internet became available to everyone, so it hasn’t changed.
10. SLIS or ALA will tell us what to do to survive.
11. It requires a master’s degree to be a ‘real’ librarian.
12. ……..
13. ….

How about you? What other zombie librarianship ideas are still walking among us?


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More Evidence FOR a Bachelor’s Degree in LIS

Last December I wrote the Post Library Science Ranks #4 in Highest Unemployment.

According to the Wall Street Journal post From College Major to Career, “Choosing the right college major can make a big difference in students’ career prospects, in terms of employment and pay. Here’s a look at how various college majors fare in the job market, based on 2010 Census data.” WSJ gleaned the study data from a report by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Click here for the full report.

Some readers took exception to the data because it represented only bachelor’s level degree information relating to librarianship employment. As we all know, those entry level jobs are few and far between. But it all seems irrelevant in light of the latest information published by CNBC – 1 in 2 new graduates are jobless or underemployed.

Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

An analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press lays bare the highly uneven prospects for holders of bachelor’s degrees.

Or does it? While it seems like the current unemployment/underemployment climate makes my advocacy for a bachelor’s degree in librarianship and information science even less appealing, actually it makes it even more appealing. Seriously? Absolutely! Read on.

While there’s strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor’s degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.

Taking underemployment into consideration, the job prospects for bachelor’s degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade.

There is “strong demand in science, education and health fields” – not arts and humanities. Librarianship is a science field. We have need of entry level bachelor’s degree educated individuals who are multi-talented, technology literate, information literate, (dare I say) transliterate, young imaginative, innovative, in-touch librarians who can help change the profession to meet 21st Century challenges.

Be honest, when faced with a choice of science, education or health fields, which would you choose – SCIENCE!!

SLIS are missing the boat by not recruiting these young people into the librarianship profession. Now is the time – well actually, 10 years ago was really the time – to heavily recruit for a bachelor’s degree as an entry level position into the profession. Other disciplines and professions will be doing it. If we don’t get moving, we’ll be left behind – again.

“You can make more money on average if you go to college, but it’s not true for everybody,” says Harvard economist Richard Freeman, noting the growing risk of a debt bubble with total U.S. student loan debt surpassing $1 trillion. “If you’re not sure what you’re going to be doing, it probably bodes well to take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college.”

Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University who analyzed the numbers, said many people with a bachelor’s degree face a double whammy of rising tuition and poor job outcomes. “Simply put, we’re failing kids coming out of college,” he said, emphasizing that when it comes to jobs, a college major can make all the difference. “We’re going to need a lot better job growth and connections to the labor market, otherwise college debt will grow.” [Emphasis added.]

How can any SLIS faculty or administrator read this and not see the opportunity here? We have a MAJOR pool of undergraduate candidates who have been working in the profession and currently are in local libraries EVERYWHERE. They know what they want to do, but the profession is stifling them! Most don’t have a bachelor’s degree, and the prospect of getting a master’s to become a “librarian” is beyond their grasp right now.

If there were abundant bachelor’s degree programs in LIS, these young library workers would have a stepping stone for career progression. This is not rocket science. All it takes is a few “establishment” librarians to think outside the box for just a minute to see the potential. Why isn’t somebody willing to step into the 21st Century?

This Post is not addressed to those SLIS with existing bachelor’s degree programs. Kentucky, Maine, and others are making an effort to address the shortfall, but are getting no support from the “establishment”.


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Last Thursday I presented to a school librarians association conference on “Becoming a 21st Century Librarian”. In the ‘environment’ section of the presentation I covered eTextbooks as a coming reality in the classroom and school library, and used an infographic from Accredited Online Universities Guide.

What Apple is doing to advance the eTextbook through iBooks 2 for iPad, and iBook Author is both remarkable and aggressive. It literally may change the face of education.

Combine that with results of what higher-ed students are already saying about eTextbooks, based on the results of a survey by e.campus.com – A LOOK AT STUDENTS USING eTEXTBOOKS – and the reality is clear – eTextbooks are the new reality.

At visual.ly, the infographic shows some very convincing trends toward the use of eTextbooks. About half (48%) of all students choose eTextbooks because of the lower price, another 25% choose them to have instant access, 19% choose eTextbooks for the portability, but only 6% prefer reading digital format.

The attraction for eTextbooks seems to be the search capability that 52% like most. Twenty percent like highlighting, and 14% like the copy-paste capability (one might expect this to be the most valued feature), and 12% like the interactive study guides and quizzes. As far as saving time, another big student issue, 51% claim they save from 1 to 3 hours per semester, while 17% say they save more than 3 hours, and 29% don’t see any time savings with eTextbooks.

In response to the question – “Would you buy an eTextbook next semester?” – only 7% said No, but 38% said Yes for all their books, while 54% were undecided – Maybe.

What does this whole trend say about the future of technology, eBooks and library services?


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