Longitudinal observations of expected and actual library resource usage and barriers experienced by public health students

John Bourgeois


Objective: This longitudinal observational study explored relationships between actual and expected usage of library resources as well as anticipated and encountered barriers to that usage among public health affiliates over the course of a semester.

Methods: School of Public Health master’s degree students were sent questionnaires monthly throughout a semester that asked about usage of and barriers to library resources to examine changes over time.

Results: Most students utilized library resources less often than they predicted at the beginning of the semester and did not have accurate expectations about which library resources they would use. Although most students encountered no difficulties using library resources, those who did often had multiple problems and seldom sought library assistance.

Conclusion: As School of Public Health master’s students had unrealistically high expectations of library resource usage, librarians may need to manage students’ expectations and assist in overcoming difficulties. Further studies across health sciences disciplines are needed to determine differences between different populations of users.


Library, Health Sciences; Library Outreach; Questionnaires; Surveys; Education and Training; Health Information Needs; Public Health; United States of America (USA)

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jmla.2020.691


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