POST: What We Know and What They Know: Scholarly Communication, Usability, and Un-Usability

In a post for the ACRLog entitled, “What We Know and What They Know: Scholarly Communication, Usability, and Un-Usability,” Dylan Burns (Utah State University) considers the usability of library collections in relation to the growing use of SciHub, #Icanhazpdf, and #Twitterlibraryloan. He points out that students at his institution use SciHub because, as they have reported to their librarians, they can “get most things” on it. Faculty also use piracy or crowdsourced services for similar reasons:

Faculty are not cynical monsters who actively search for ways to be “anti-library,” but make rational choices that fit what they need. They aren’t very often knowledgeable about the inner working of collection development or the serials crisis but they are knowledgeable about what they need right now in their academic careers.

So, how do librarians promote their collections and services when the systems we employ are not as easy to use or potentially do not fit patrons’ needs? Burns argues that “We as librarians shouldn’t ‘teach’ our patrons to adapt to our obtuse and oftentimes difficult systems but libraries should adapt to the needs of our patrons.” Adaptation requires listening, and a respect for why users can find library systems and ways of knowing obtuse, but is necessary in “the age of easy access to materials online.”

dh+lib Review

This post was produced through a cooperation between Heather Martin, Kristina De Voe, Melanie Hubbard, Nathalie Chardon, Rajene Hardeman, Alberto Santiago Martinez, Jenna Rinalducci, and Chella Vaidyanathan (Editors-at-large for the week), Caitlin Christian-Lamb (Editor for the week), and Nickoal Eichmann-Kalwara, Sarah Melton, Roxanne Shirazi, and Patrick Williams (dh+lib Review Editors).