Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Chinese College Students’ Information Behavior and Library Needs

Last year, my research collaborators and I conducted a study to examine how the pandemic had impacted Chinese college students’ use of the library. The study took place in April and May 2020. At that time, Chinese college campus had been shut off and all the teaching and learning had been moved online for two months. We collected data using a combination of journaling and in-depth interviews, focusing on the library use and library needs of Chinese college students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our findings indicate that students generally lack awareness and understanding of the library’s online resources and would like the library to provide support in ways that could help them enhance productivity and lessen anxiety in the new reality of learning. Libraries should consider making more outreach efforts and offering programs and events to ameliorate isolation and improve students’ sense of community. We hope that our study can provide academic libraries with a nuanced view of user needs and thus help them make informed decisions to serve their campus communities during the unprecedented health crisis. Through the exploration and documentation of college students’ library use and needs, we also hope to document this critical historical event for the library community.

Now our study has been published in the Library Quarterly. Here’s the citation:

Shi, Y., Li, C. & Luo, L. (2021). Impact of the covid-19 pandemic on Chinese college students’ information behavior and library needs: A qualitative study. Library Quarterly, 91(2), 150-171.

I’m really glad that we were able to contribute to the library and information science (LIS) literature with regards to the pandemic. When years later, the pandemic is finally behind us, I think it will be quite interesting to conduct a content analysis of all the pandemic-related studies/articles in peer reviewed LIS journals to capture and document LIS researchers’ collection contributions.


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