Use of e-resources by unmotivated students: a success story from a library in Russia

Publication Date11 November 2019
AuthorValentina Vasilyeva,Valeria Vasilyeva
SubjectLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library & information services
Use of e-resources by unmotivated
students: a success story from a
library in Russia
Valentina Vasilyeva and Valeria Vasilyeva
North-West Institute of Administration,
Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration
North-West Institute of Management, Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation
Purpose This paper aims to examine how new educationalapproaches to the presentation of electronic
informationresources can inuence interest in their use among rst-year undergraduates.Despite the variety
of technologicalfacilities available in universities,the learning process sometimes fails to keeppace with their
advantages. Universities are investing in high-technology classrooms and an extensive multidisciplinary
subscription to e-resourcesin the belief that students will make use of these opportunities.However, students
often ignore the availabilityof relevant and veried contentand prefer to retrieve information from Googles
search results. The absence of studentsinitial motivation to work with a complex product is perhaps the
greatest challengefaced by the teacher-librarian. Limited timeavailable for training (a lecture and a seminar)
and lack of preparednessamong information specialists aggravatesthe situation.
Design/methodology/approach The efcacy of new educational approaches to the presentation of
e-resourceswas examined in a pilot study involving 940 rst-year undergraduatesat the North-West Institute
of Management of the Presidential Academy (RANEPA). The authors replaced academic lectures with
exible and interestingtechniques based on students interests, used attention triggers for eache-resource in
lecture materialsand focused the seminar on multiple specic searchesto attract and keep students engaged.
New educationalapproaches were implemented in four-hour sessionsfor rst-year students in all disciplines.
Findings The results suggestthat the new educational approaches and teaching techniquescan raise the
level of studentsinvolvement and interest in the use of subscribed e-resources. To assess the developed
approach, the authors analyzed the dynamics of the studentsvisits to subscribed resources and observeda
signicant increase in the number of visits.The authors found such a trend for all the types of requests and
resources. Overall, the numberof visits and full-text requests increasedfrom 88 to 284 per cent for the 2017-
2018 academicyear compared to the 2016-2017 one.
Practical implications The ndings of the study demonstrate the necessity of applying new
educationalapproaches to teaching students who lack the motivation to use high-qualityelectronic resources.
The teacher-librarian can be an important link between scientic information and consumers. The newly
developed techniques have great potential for a wide range of educational applications including the
developmentof teaching materials and training programs.
Social implications The approach combines teaching methodology with rich informational environment,
enhancing studentsmotivation to information literacy through mastering their digital skills. Studentsinterest in
subscribed resources initiates their professional work with scientic information. Students need to constantly use
subscribed resources. Otherwise, the skills of using information e-resources will disappear and motivation for
their use will decrease. The development of techniques that can help to maintain studentsinterest in information
e-resources is continuing, and new ndings will be presented in future papers.
Originality/value In the scientic literature, to the best of the authorsknowledge, no information is
available on the use of similar techniques at Russian universities. It is hoped that developed techniques helps
students with low digital literacy from other universities or colleges overcome their bias against high technology.
Keywords Marketing in libraries, Higher education, E-resource, Academic libraries, Library users,
Learning, Information literacy, Unmotivated students, Scientic library, Subscription to e-resources,
Veried content, Attention triggers, High-technology classroom
Paper type Research paper
Use of
e-resources by
Received21 June 2019
Revised5 September 2019
9 October2019
Accepted9 October 2019
Informationand Learning
Vol.120 No. 11/12, 2019
pp. 773-788
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/ILS-06-2019-0056
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Electronic information resources have been widely distributed in Russian universities for
more than 15years. However, they are still failing to reach the nal consumer, which is not
merely a matter of nancing.
Higher education institutions allocate funds for electronic subscriptions and the
necessary equipment for their use. Furthermore, some state projects enable institutions to
offer electronic subscriptions, because they understand the importance of receiving
information from the worlds bank of scientic knowledge. However, the issue of
protability always arises simultaneously with the subscription campaign. How do
students use expensive resources?What percentage of students read scientic articles?And,
nally, what needsto be done to make sure that the electronic subscriptions,for which funds
are allocated, are usedas much as possible?
Annually, specialists of the NEICON Consortium (Razumova, 2016) study the
quantitative and qualitativecharacteristics of costs and use of electronic resources in Russia
and around the world (Figure 1).
Most nal consumers of resources (students or teachers) demonstrate an unwillingness
to use electronic database subscriptions.According to anonymous and face-to-face surveys
with more than 500 students that were conducted in the RANEPA, many students use
materials from their search results in Google or Yandex for their serious works, as well as
reference lists recommendedby their teachers. This is despite the fact that the Institute has
an extensive multidisciplinarysubscription to electronic English-language resources.At the
same time, a survey of teachers showed a large proportion of those who retrieve electronic
content from Googles search results.Thus, the circle closes. Although such an approach to
conducting scienticresearch is found in Russia and beyond (Head and Eisenberg, 2010), for
obvious reasons, we regardit as unacceptable.
So why do users ignore the availability of relevant and veried content and prefer to
gather low-quality information? There are many explanations for this. The historical and
political background of scienticresearch may have contributed to this, when, for instance,
the 1974 edition was considered to be a basic work in a scienticeld.As a result, there was
no need to search for more recent studies at that time (Korotkina, 2018). However, now
digitalization is one of the strongest trends affecting the scientic community in Russia;
everyone understands the importance of acquiring new competencies. However, neither
Figure 1.
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