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Researcher and Academic Library Roles and User Beliefs in the Pandemic: Designing the Open-Access and Library Usage Scale (OALU)

Elizabeth DeZouche, Angelique Blackburn


We investigated whether individuals believe they have a right to information during a crisis, and whether attitudes about crisis-related information sharing differ by age and one’s role in providing or consuming information. We measured attitudes about aspects of data sharing related to COVID-19: researchers’ obligation to share data, publishers’ obligation to share information, and libraries’ responsibility to provide them. We predicted younger individuals, especially students as consumers of information, would report stronger preference for open access to pandemic-related information. A principal components analysis was performed, and two predicted factors emerged: information-sharing obligations and libraries’ responsibility to provide resources. Age was not significantly correlated with attitudes about libraries or information-sharing. Planned analyses comparing students, faculty, and community members unaffiliated with the university revealed no differences in their attitudes regarding library resources or information-sharing. A lack of age and university affiliation-related differences can be explained by universally strong attitudes in favor of both information-sharing and library resources, with a greater desire for information-sharing. Knowing that individuals demonstrate a strong preference for open access to information and that these attitudes do not differ between those who are providing (faculty), and consuming information (students/community) can contribute to funding for these resources. This research is innovative and timely, as attitudes about access when information is urgently and globally needed, as during a pandemic, is likely to differ from those observed under different circumstances.

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