Exploring Faculty Experiences With e-Books: A Focus Group
Purpose: In spring of 2007, Arizona State University Libraries held a focus group of selected faculty to discover their perceptions and use of electronic books (e-books) in their research and teaching.
Methodology/approach: We employed the services of the Institute of Social Sciences Research to recruit and moderate the focus group. The following major themes were explored:
1) Use of e-books as textbooks.
2) Use of e-books for personal research.
3) Comparison between e-books and print.
4) Disciplinary differences in perceptions of e-books.
5) Motivators for future use
Findings: Overall, the focus group revealed that faculty had generally unsatisfactory experiences in using e-books in their research and teaching due to the unreliability of access, lack of manipulability, and the steep learning curve of the various interfaces. However, most faculty agreed that e-books would be a very viable and useful alternative if these issues were resolved.
Research limitations/implications: The focus group consisted of only six faculty members and hence is not representative of faculty as a whole. A larger survey of a more diverse faculty population would greatly serve to clarify and expand upon our findings.
Practical implications: The implications for academic libraries include providing better outreach and training to faculty about the e-book platforms offered, provide better course support, and advocate to e-book vendors to consider faculty's teaching and research needs in their product development.
Originality/value of paper: To the best knowledge of the authors, this is the first published study of faculty opinions and use of e-books utilizing focus group methodology and offers detailed information that would be useful for academic libraries and e-book vendors for evidence-based decisions.