The Impact of the Acquisition of Electronic Medical Texts on the Usage of Equivalent Print Books in an Academic Medical Library

Pamela S. Morgan


Objectives – This study examines whether acquiring a text in electronic format effects the usage of the print version of the text, focusing specifically on medical texts. Studies in the literature dealt specifically with general collections and it was not clear if they were applicable to medical collections. It was also not clear if these studies should play a role in determining whether a medical library should purchase electronic texts or whether reserve collections are still needed for print texts.

Methods – Four usage studies were conducted using data from the circulation system and the electronic vendor systems. These were 1) trends of print usage; 2) trends of electronic usage; 3) a comparison of electronic usage with print usage of the same title in the reserve collection; 4) a comparison of electronic usage with print usage of the same title in the general collection.

Results – In comparison to print, substantial usage is being made of electronic books. Print is maintaining a level pattern of usage while electronic usage is increasing steadily. There was a noticeable difference in the usage levels of the electronic texts as regards to the package in which they are contained. Usage of print texts both on reserve and in the general collection has decreased over time, however the acquisition of the electronic version of a medical title had little impact on the usage of the equivalent print version.

Conclusion – There is a demand for medical texts in medical libraries. Electronic versions can replace print versions of texts in reserve. Further investigation is needed of current patterns of print collection usage, with particular emphasis on trends in reserve collection usage.


Use Studies; Electronic Books; Books; Medical Libraries and Collections; Circulation Analysis

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