Usage of Library Resources During COVID-19

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In our most recent Geoscience COVID-19 survey, we asked individuals about their usage of library resources. Given the restrictions on facility access and the increase in writing and literature review activities over the past few months, we wanted to see if individuals were experiencing impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic in the usage of libraries and library resources.

Over the past month, approximately one-fifth of all survey cohorts used public libraries, while the usage of government and special libraries were more varied among cohorts. Survey respondents from academic campuses, such as academic faculty, post-doctoral fellows, students, and K-12 faculty predominantly used campus libraries. Other types of libraries used by respondents included online collections.

DB_2020-026 chart 01: Types of libraries used by cohort (Credit: AGI; data from AGI's Geoscience COVID-19 Survey)

Most respondents reported no change relative to February 2020 in accessing journals, using library customer service resources, and inter-library loan borrowing. Compared to February 2020, over half of survey respondents reported less use of print materials, one quarter of respondents reported reductions in inter-library loan lending, and 29% reported a decline in the usage of other resources, such as 3D printing, using the library as a workspace, and digital resources. At the same time, nearly a third of respondents reported increased usage of other resources, such as a variety of digital resources, and the use of the library as a way to get materials to students.

DB_2020-026 chart 02: Library resource usage by type (Credit: AGI; data from AGI's Geoscience COVID-19 Survey)

Except for unemployed geoscientists, most respondents across cohorts reported access to journals through library systems, usage of library customer service resources, and inter-library loan borrowing being similar to February 2020. Unemployed geoscientists reported decreased journal access (46% of respondents) and decreased inter-library loan borrowing (67% of respondents) since February 2020. In addition, between 44% and 67% of respondents across cohorts reported decreased usage of print materials relative to February 2020.

DB_2020-026 chart 03: Library resource usage by cohort: journal access (Credit: AGI; data from AGI's Geoscience COVID-19 Survey)

DB_2020-026 chart 04: Library resource usage by cohort: customer service (Credit: AGI; data from AGI's Geoscience COVID-19 Survey)

DB_2020-026 chart 05: Library resource usage by cohort: inter-library loan (Credit: AGI; data from AGI's Geoscience COVID-19 Survey)

DB_2020-026 chart 06: Library resource usage by cohort: print materials (Credit: AGI; data from AGI's Geoscience COVID-19 Survey)

Respondents across most cohorts reported no issues with accessing or obtaining items through their libraries, except for post-doctoral fellows and unemployed geoscientists (71% and 50% of respondents, respectively) who cited issues with lack of access to online journals and to print materials such as dissertations, review volumes and other books. The most common items that were reported as being difficult to obtain included online journal articles, books and volumes, and other print materials. Additional types of items that were reported as being hard to obtain included theses and dissertations, geologic maps, and papers. Respondents mentioned issues with library access to online journals and resources, limitations to borrowing physical items that was either due to limitations with inter-library loan borrowing, restrictions on borrowing physical items from the library or the library building being closed.

DB_2020-026 chart 07: Lack of access to items through library (Credit: AGI; data from AGI's Geoscience COVID-19 Survey)

We will continue to provide current snapshots on the impacts of COVID-19 on the geoscience enterprise throughout the year. For more information, and to participate in the study, please visit: www.americangeosciences.org/workforce/covid19

Funding for this project is provided by the National Science Foundation (Award #2029570). The results and interpretation of the survey are the views of the American Geosciences Institute and not those of the National Science Foundation.

Date updated: 2020-10-30
Data Brief 2020-026
Written and compiled by Leila Gonzales and Christopher Keane, AGI, October 2020

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