Although electronic books are becoming a common place globally, they are not
necessarily as widely used as other e-resources due to non-familiarity by many
users. Academic libraries are important research centres, supporting the research
activities of all disciplines, and seeking to establish and cultivate initiatives which
address research output challenges. Traditionally, libraries are the best agencies for
collecting, organizing and preserving print information resources for effective use,
and for the advancement of knowledge. However, the evolution of electronic
information resources and electronic books, has forced librarians in developing
countries to rethink collection development policies, and to assess accessibility and
convenience. The period since 2005 has seen growth in print and electronic
resources, and the development of new clientele relationships, which has changed
user information needs as a result of the development of an advanced modern
electronic networked environment, that supports the distribution of information
content and facilitates its use.
The purpose of this research was to conduct a case study research in the University
of the Witwatersrand, to explore the use of e-books among undergraduate students
in its Faculty of Engineering, to assess levels of e-book use; attitude and perception,
check user viewpoints on favourable and unfavourable characteristics of e-books;
whether there are any preferences for print versus e-books; the impact of e-books on
studies; the purpose they choose to use or not use e-books and to assess any
challenges. This study utilised questionnaire and interviews to collect data.
The findings indicate that Wits engineering students have preference for print;
however, e-books are essential as complementary resources for research. The slow
uptake can be attributed to various challenges such as lack of awareness among
students; inadequate technology infrastructure; intermittent power outages; different
platforms requiring passwords; eye fatigue while reading on the screen; lack of
subject specific e-books, and publisher restrictions. The study concludes that it is
essential to involve the faculty and lecturers, to increase awareness and usage
amongst specific target population.
Mini Dissertation (MIT)--University of Pretoria, 2016.