Chinese students’ behavior intention to use mobile library apps and effects of education level and discipline

Published date21 November 2016
Date21 November 2016
AuthorJiming Hu,Yin Zhang
Subject MatterLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library technology,Information behaviour & retrieval,Information user studies,Metadata,Information & knowledge management,Information & communications technology,Internet
Chinese studentsbehavior
intention to use mobile library
apps and effects of education
level and discipline
Jiming Hu
Center for the Study of Information Resources,
Wuhan University, Wuhan, China, and
Yin Zhang
School of Library and Information Science,
Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine behavior intention of Chinese university students
toward mobile library (m-library) applications (apps) and to explore the determinants of their
perceptions of m-library apps.
Design/methodology/approach Based on previous research, this study first proposed an
integrated model and hypothesized the relationships between constructs while exploring the
significance of the effects of education level and discipline. In all, 466 undergraduate and graduate
students from various disciplines participated in a survey for this study. A structural equation
modeling approach was applied for analysis.
Findings Attitude is the main predictor of behavior intention toward m-library apps, and it is
significantlyaffected by perceived usefulness,self-efficacy,and subjective norm. The quality of m-library
apps determines studentsperception of usefulness. In addition, education level and discipline have
significant effects on behavior intention toward m-library apps, which may reflect studentsdifferent
focuses and purposes of use.
Originality/value This study deepens understanding of the continuance usage of m-library apps
and has practical implications on related developments and services.
Keywords Academic libraries, Chinese university students, Behaviour intention,
Effect of discipline, Effect of education level, Mobile library apps
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
In the last decade, in order to increase the use of library resources by university
students, a significant segment of user groups in university libraries, thousands of
universities in China have developed or provided mobile library (m-library) apps or
services. Almost all the Ministry of EducationsProject 985and Project 211
universities, which are designated as elite universities in China, have been
implementing this mobile service mode for students and academics (Li, 2013).
According to the report by Tian (2014), with the exception of independent development
of some m-library apps, a large proportion of universities choose to cooperate with an
Library Hi Tech
Vol. 34 No. 4, 2016
pp. 639-656
©Emerald Group Publis hing Limited
DOI 10.1108/LHT-06-2016-0061
Received 18 January 2016
Revised 10 August 2016
Accepted 22 August 2016
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
This study is supported by the China Scholarship Council (CSC) (No. 201506275122), China
Postdoctoral Science Foundation Special Funded Project (No. 2016T90736), China Postdoctoral
Science Foundation Funded Project (No. 2015M572202), and China Key project of Key Research
Institutes of Philosophy and Social Science by Ministry of Education (15JJD870001).
information system or database provider. This is an embedded approach by which a
university library may then upload its collections to an m-library cloud platform and
share or deliver resources to students, academics, or other university users.
A university m-library app may free students from temporal and spatial limitations,
enabling them to acquire library resources and services anytime and anywhere via an
authenticated library account (Chang, 2013). Because of the 100 percent smart phone
adoption rate by university students in China and their needs for book retrieval,
reservations, and information resources, university m-library apps may appear to have
a high penetration rate based on the large number of initia l downloads (Jia and Dong,
2014). However, the degree of university studentsacceptance and adoption of
m-library apps is relatively low at present, and even fewer university students conti nue
to use them for library services (Tian, 2015). The benefits of using university m-library
apps are greatly limited due to these low continuance usage and participation rates.
Therefore, in order to encourage university users to continue use of m-library apps and
promote the efficiency of library resources, it is critical to reveal the antecedents of
continuance usage intention toward university m-library apps.
Another important fact that should be noted is that university students, regardless
of educational level (e.g. undergraduate, graduate, etc.) and discipline (e.g. science,
engineering, humanities, social sciences, etc.), are provided with uniform interfaces and
functions in m-library apps. This may not meet the varied needs and preferences
students with different backgrounds have of library resources and services.
Most previous research reported only the influence of some factors on the
information behaviors of acceptation and adoption of m-library services. These include
technology acceptance (Jin, 2014), user experience (Hu et al., 2014; Zha et al., 2015),
service quality ( Joo and Choi, 2015), usage performance (Gan et al., 2015), students
cognition ( Jia and Dong, 2014), satisfaction (Guo, 2014), and so on. To date, there are
less clear understandings of the elements affecting Chinese university studentslong-
term behavior intention toward m-library apps, and much less of the moderating effects
of education and discipline on the relationship between intention and antecedents.
This study seeks to capture the unique features and identify the factors which
influence behavior intention toward m-library apps by Chinese university students by
addressing two research questions:
RQ1. How factors affect Chinese university studentscontinuance usage intention
toward m-library apps in light of system features and student perceptions?
RQ2. How education level and discipline may affect Chinese university students
continuance usage intention toward m-library apps?
Answers to these two questions will offer insight on university student m-library app
use that will help libraries and service providers offer better and more targeted services
to users.
2. Literature review
2.1 Services provided by the Chaoxi ng m-library app
In China, the Chaoxing m-library app, developed and promoted by Beijing Chaoxing
Inc., is the most popular m-library tool in universities. This professional mobile reading
platform/app integrates the OPAC system, digital library portal, cloud sharing service
system, information exchange and interaction platforms, personalized services, etc.,
and can run on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. In addition to the local

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