Do workstations work too well? An investigation into library workstation popularity and the "Principle of Least Effort"

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John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


Library workstations, with their colorful screens, menu options, databases, CD-ROMs, and other bells and whistles, lull users into trusting that they provide one-stop reference shopping covering all time periods for everything from journal citations to technical reports and patents. The Library has promoted workstation access and ease of use to the point of luring patrons away from other, possibly more appropriate, print indexes. In turn, have these workstations, aided by the “Principle of Least Effort,” changed the nature of how research is performed in academic libraries? A number of statistical data point to increased dependence on workstations at the Chemistry Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. These and other statistics are examined to determine the changing nature of library research.