oa South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science - Research on e-book usage in academic libraries : 'tame' solution or a 'wicked problem'?

Volume 81, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-8861



The result of a systematic analysis of the literature on research about the usage of e-books in academic libraries published in the United States and the United Kingdom between 2004 and 2014 is examined. Commonalities were identified amongst the articles, together with factors such as questions asked, user response and the research methods that were used. Several areas of deficiency were identified in the conduct of the research and, in order to contextualise the issues, Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber's (1973) characteristics of a 'wicked problem' and a 'tame problem' were used as a framework. It was concluded that e-book usage does exhibit several of the characteristics of a wicked problem, and uncertainty about the exact nature of the problem will remain until further research has been conducted into the various aspects of e-book usage, such as reading and comprehension.

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