According to the results of research by Middlesex University, published at the Association for Learning Technology (ALT)’s annual conference at the University of Nottingham this month, students are shunning multi-million pound high-tech college library services in favour of cheaper external resources such as Google and YouTube.


The research reveals that students find university and college systems too complex, time-consuming and cumbersome for their research, so they resort to approaches with which they are familiar.


Seb Schmoller, ALT’s chief executive, said: “Institutions should think carefully about their users’ needs, recognising the growing gulf between traditionally organised library resources and resources available on the web. Without ease of use and openness of access, users will rely instead on what they can find on the web.”


Apparently, UK universities spend more than £80m a year on licenses for e-journals alone, yet few students ask librarians to help them access such resources.


“Many had never met their subject librarian nor were they aware that the library provides subject support in finding information,” said the researchers. They added that students find services such as Google, fast, universally available, not subject to ‘time-outs’, intuitive, and fault-tolerant; whereas college systems were often clumsy, with poor usability.


Comment: Surely there’s no suggestion here that students are inherently lazy and will take the line of least resistance to generate the information they need to produce the work required of them?