Usability and compatibility of e-book readers in an academic environment: A collaborative study

Mari Aaltonen, Petri Mannonen, Saija Nieminen, Marko Nieminen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    New technologies create great opportunities as well as new challenges when libraries build their virtual collections. As e-book readers and other portable devices grow in popularity, collections can no longer be evaluated purely on the basis of content; their adaptability and ease of use on various platforms has to be taken to account. Collaboration between libraries, users and usability professionals is paramount in building virtual collections of the future. Only users can tell how these platforms are going to be used, as mobile tools for study or as entertainment devices. It is important to learn how usable the e-collections really are and what essential materials are currently incompatible with these devices. Digital rights management and technical compatibility issues should become standard considerations in all acquisition of electronic materials. This paper will present a study conducted in the Helsinki University of Technology Library, currently part of the Aalto University, from autumn of 2009 until summer of 2010. In collaboration with the Strategic Usability Research Group, various e-book readers were tested by both professionals and students. In the study, e-book readers were given to students for one study period with all the course material provided in electronic format. Feedback from the students was collected through discussions, study diaries and questionnaires. In the library, the e-book readers were tested in order to see what demands and restrictions they pose on e-materials and how well the current e-collections of the library are usable on these devices. Results suggest incompatibilities with many licensed e-materials, whereas most open access materials can be easily downloaded and used.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)16-27
    JournalIFLA JOURNAL
    Volume37
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Keywords

    • usability
    • human-computer interaction
    • e-books
    • e-readers
    • digital rights management
    • collection policy
    • academic libraries

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