Students prefer Internet to libraries

A study found students rely on search engines for information.

Jamie VanGeest

College students use libraries more than most people, but according to a new report, the Internet still comes first when looking for information.

The findings, “College Students’ Perceptions of Library Information Resources,” evaluated 396 college students’ views about libraries and information resources.

The report found that college students use library resources more than the general population, but the Internet is the first place students go for information.

The most popular way college students find information is through Internet search engines. Eighty-nine percent of students use Internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo, while 2 percent start an information search with a library Web site, according to the report released this month.

The survey reported a margin of error of plus or minus 1.69 percentage points at a 95-percent confidence level for the online population of the surveyed countries.

“Why wouldn’t (college students use search engines)? It’s easy and it’s broad-based,” said Cathy De Rosa, vice president of marketing and library services for the Online Computer Library Center, a nonprofit computer library service and research organization that conducted the report.

Linh Nguyen, a French and English junior, is among the 2 percent of college students who use the University’s library Web site to find information before search engines.

“You can trust the information from the library’s Web site more then the stuff you find on Google,” Nguyen said.

Still, college students use library resources more than the general public. While 90 percent of college students have a library card, only 72 percent of the general public have one, according to the report.

Eighteen percent of college students use a public library weekly while only 13 percent of the respondants overall do, according to the report.

“I thought it was really encouraging to see how much they are using the library on campus,” De Rosa said.

University library officials did not return calls for comment.

De Rosa pointed out college students might use libraries more than any other group because they need it for their coursework, but she said it’s also because college students are good at navigating the resources libraries offer.

Some students, such as mechanical engineering junior Shawn Sullivan, disagreed.

He said college students don’t use the library very often.

“(Students) don’t use the library because they think they can find what they need on the Internet,” Sullivan said.

The report surveyed people online in the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore and India.

“It was surprising how universal (the results) were,” De Rosa said.

The numbers for library use were consistent across the six countries in the study.