Reading Habits in the Digital Age

There is an extensive body of research investigating the use of e-books in academia. This research addresses the reasons e-books are and are not read, and the barriers to adoption. However, this literature tends to exclude other digital text, including online reading or digital versions of print text. Investigating the reading habits and environment in which any text is read, may illuminate our understanding of digital reading in an academic setting.

As part of a course titled Human Information Behavior, under the guidance of Cristina Pattuelli, I conducted a study with Elizabeth Kaufer and Storey Sitwala that investigated the everyday life context in which reading practices occur. Our study aimed to explore:

  1. What everyday life circumstances contribute to decisions around reading experiences?
  2. How is the nature of reading changing in the digital age?
  3. How do readers make decisions about reading format?

To explore these aims, we conducted a mixed-method, qualitative study using three methods (focus groups, a real-time diary using Twitter, and semi-structured interviews). The sample included a total of 11 participants from two NYC-based colleges, with minimal attrition during the different phases of the study. In order to capture in-the-moment diary entries from participants, the diary component of this study used Twitter in a novel way that few other studies have done before.

A presentation of this research was accepted at the 6th Annual Conference on Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods in Libraries (QQML2014). The presentation will focus on the novel use of Twitter as diary method.

Example tweet provided to participants as a model to use during diary phase.

Example tweet provided to participants as a model to use during diary phase.



About Gina Shelton

I am a Reference Clerk at the Pratt Institute Libraries' Brooklyn campus and am currently working on my MSLIS.
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