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Preferring print: The planned behavior and preferences of first-generation college students in the academic library

The Journal of Academic Librarianship / November 2023


Academic libraries have been adapting and changing their collections with technology. Often this technology has accompanied a transition from physical collections, such as print books, to electronic collections and electronic books. Understanding how this shift away from print formats might affect certain campus populations is essential as electronic collections continue to grow and expand in various academic institutions. This mixed methods case study aimed to understand how first-generation college students at a public research university use print books versus electronic books. Data was collected in two phases, with the first phase consisting of a Likert scale survey distributed to 4419 potential participants. The second phase was a qualitative semi-structured interview with 19 self-identified participants from the survey. The survey did not indicate a strong preference for print books over electronic books. However, the qualitative interviews did indicate that first-generation students preferred using print to facilitate their reading styles. The study showed that students prefer to use print books over electronic formats daily at their academic institutions for various factors, including the ability to focus and review information. However, the primary reason first-generation college students prefer print books is that it helps them retain information for classes better than electronic books.

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