Thanks to a tweet from @AlisonMcNab, I was pointed at this VIP LiveWire post on electronic vs paper reading http://tinyurl.com/3s9lc6s . And it makes interesting (electronic) reading.
I’ve been aware for some time that our users have a wide variety of engagement with e-resources, from those for whom anything non-electronic doesn’t exist to those who still have a hankering for parchment and quills. Many users do still find that it’s easier to work with several physical books open on a desk in front of them; others like the facility to access a resource whenever and wherever they like. However, recent research (albeit on a small scale) from the University of Oregon suggests that, for the more intensive reading needed at HE level, doing it from paper may actually make remembering it easier.
Whether this has any implications for HE libraries is more difficult to predict. However, it is likely that print will be sitting alongside e- (in a virtual sense, you understand!) for a while yet, even if the balance between the two shifts. It would be interesting to do some research into the reading patterns of students at those institutions which have a preponderance of e-resources over paper and compare it to those at which paper still holds sway. It might illuminate some differences in the best ways to promote learning in the different resource environments.