The Impact of Internet and Digital Media on Reading Habit
Jyoti Verma1, Vijetacharya Malviya2
1School of Telemedicine & Biomedical Informatics, SGPGIMS, Lucknow
2Devprayag Institute of Technical Studies, Allahabad
The purpose of this article is to study and to explore the impact of internet and digital media on
reading habit. Traditional reading habits of library users have now changes with the changing
environment and working culture. People are now looking for an opportunity to read contents in
electronic mode. It reduces the burden over the person to keep staying inside the library and now
person can even read contents while travelling or while moving around the world. Traditional
libraries and digital libraries supple each other to meet the needs of various kinds of readers.
Younger generation students sometimes prefer reading through the internet or following up book
reviews as such opportunities can be thought as effective means for fostering reading habits.
Reading is influenced by many factors like environment, subject, background, age etc. Libraries
are under the influence of modern technologies which has converted the functional activities in
all walks of life.
Keyword: Digital Media, Internet, Digital libraries, Library users, Attitudes towards reading
The library is the richest information treasure of human knowledge and cultural wealth. This
should be able to meet effectively the challenges of the new technology revolution1. However,
the development of advanced technology, the widespread use of computers, optical disks and
network as well as various kinds of databases have provided good opportunities for the survival
and development of traditional libraries of different types. The library, as a traditional
information institution, is undergoing radical changes in its information service in the new era.
With more and more digital materials available to the reader, the library no longer simply
collects printed materials only. As for library users, their reading habits and ideas of utilizing
reading materials have also changed. The increased use of computers has led to some
modifications in the methods of academic work, such as undertaking research, writing articles,
and producing teaching materials. The use of e-mail has become so popular that it is almost
ubiquitous and researchers are finding it important that all such materials and sources should also
exist in digital format. Both before and after developing a digital library, the systems are modern
with the time and user is fully satisfied.
Habit is a psychological activity and is developed during a course of time as a part of personality
of an individual. Many people in the library world believe that digital libraries can simply be
planned onto traditional print-based libraries. The new formats are not seen as replacing the old
ones, but rather as co-existing with them. Libraries will no longer be ranked according to the
richness of their own collections – they will be evaluated in terms of the services they provide,
based primarily on remote access to the resources of other information centers.
There is growing evidence, both from research projects and from library manager techniques,
that a different organizational and managerial culture is required for successful digital libraries.
Indeed, there are considerable human, cultural and organizational challenges in developing and
maintaining digital libraries. The digital library clearly has a “culture” that is different from the
traditional library service. One can only speculate on whether the “cultural shift” involved is a
prerequisite of digital library development, or whether there is a “cultural lag” and changes result
from the introduction of digital services. Reading from screens is fast as from paper if the image
quality was sufficiently good. However people like to read article after taking printouts.
Although changes have taken place, more deep-seated working habits do not seem to have been
influenced. Hence, although our various projects have looked as quite different implementations,
the results have completely surprised the librarians of developing libraries.
Many research studies on the libraries of developing countries have focused on how people use
digital resources or on their feelings about digital and print resources in the library. These usage
studies draw many conclusions about the behavior and preferences of library users. Digital
information environment has dramatically changed the way that faculty and students access the
information offered by academic libraries. Several digital information usage studies in recent
years have focused on standardized usage counts. A fundamental outcome of the introduction of
digital technology within libraries is the fascinating possibility of systematic organization and
storage of information in large-scale databases. As conventional methods of collecting and
presenting information become more expensive and time-consuming, placing digital information
on networks is regarded as a major advance over the physical maintenance of some library
services. Digital surveys are neither given a prominent place in the literature nor in projects
exploring the measurement of digital networks, because the point of the projects is to collect data
on the use and value of digital resources. There are many ways to assess the effectiveness of
library services. The digital environment is very different from the print-oriented culture: “it has
always been recognized that some shifts in culture, both for libraries and other stakeholders in
information, were crucial if digital libraries were to make a real difference”. Although these new
developments in information technology are challenging and on some days even overwhelming,
the real challenges that we face are not technical in nature. Instead, it is the need to imagine and
implement change that will translate traditional values into the networked and electronic
Reading today is the most versatile of habits, encompassing all of the above. It is just as
successful when it involves fonts dancing across a computer screen as it is with handset type on
the brittle pages of a 300-year-old book. We still have writing in an age of word processing; we
still have reading in an age of video. That will continue, but the nature of reading will change as
it has changed all along. Fears that the Internet and other technologies will cause the decline and
fall of print media are probably not warranted. Although people aren't reading as many books as
they used to, their thirst for information seems limitless. Publishers enhance the reading
experience with electronic media and find the next generation of customers of literature as any
they've ever seen.
Reading habits and their influence on digital libraries
The aim of developing digital libraries is to enable readers to make better use of library services.
Only in this way can digital libraries show their superiority, and this goal is active in the
germinal stages of the services program, but many digital libraries do fail to achieve their
objectives. In developing countries, the development of the digital library is confronted with a lot
of obstacles. There are a number of main factors restricting the development of digital libraries in
such countries. One is that many libraries lack funds to buy digital equipment and digital books.
Another is the reading habits of library users. Still another is inadequate computer retrieval skills
and knowledge – which is also closely related with reading habits. In short, in the libraries of
developing countries, readers’ computer skills and reading habits have shown slow speed of
development of digital libraries, and the advantages put before by the introduction of digital
libraries have been unable to be realized.
Impact of Internet on Reading Habit
The internet has changed the world in an incalculable number of ways. It has changed the way
people communicate, the way business is done, and the way information is shared and received.
The internet has also had a great effect on people’s reading habits, as it has changed the way
people expect to receive both information and entertainment. The internet is a great method for
sharing and receiving large volume of information very quickly. Nearly everyone who uses the
internet has learned to process information quickly and to expect information in a concise, easy
to digest format. As the internet becomes the main platform from which many people get their
information, they have come to expect that even information that is not on the internet be
presented in this manner.
Reading habits have shifted as those who write for publications such as newspapers and
magazines have changed some of their formatting to compete with this new, concise manner of
writing. People no longer read long, informational articles and essays, but may simply skim
through to find the pertinent information or the information that is most interesting to them. The
shift in reading habits has been caused by the internet. It does not only affect non-fiction and
factual writing. As people become more accustomed to reading only short blurbs, even in instant
messages or one-line emails, their overall attention span for words is changing. This means that
even their attention span for novels and longer literary pursuits is waning.
The internet is a wonderful resource for many things, and it has allowed people all over the
world to become more connected to each other. However, with its rapid speed, mentality of
instant gratification, and its unique format, the internet has a detrimental effect on the reading
habits of an entire generation. The generation that grew up with the internet has an attention span
that is conditioned to eschew any work of writing that requires a close, analytical read, or a long
investment of time. The effect of the internet on reading habits cannot be ignored as the internet
itself becomes more accessible to more people each day.
Reading habits have been changed by the Internet. People aren't buying as many newspapers or
magazines anymore. Newspaper readership is disturbed. Magazines and newspapers are going
out of business. All because people have turned to one source to get their thirst of knowledge
quenched by the Internet water store.
Traditional reading habit
By “traditional reading habit” is meant the reading of books published in the form of paper only.
Typical of this reading habit are mostly elderly people, though some are young people. They
stick to their old habits although the use of computers for reading has been popular for quite
some years – in other words their traditional reading habit has not changed in any way since the
arrival of the digital age. Like these older readers, some young people have the same reading
habit. During the last few years, they have not access to computers and so they have studied
through printed books or notes.
Computers have now become popular, but such young readers are still accustomed to reading
from paper instead of on screen, especially for the purpose of work, and thus printed publications
are still essential to them for reading purposes. Digital libraries may have lots of resources, but
such traditional readers find them uncomfortable to use.
Many elderly people think that reading is an important means to obtain information and it is a
vital way to develop the national culture. Although the library has provided modernized digital
resources for many years, the percentage using the digital library is far less than 50 percent and
there are still over 25 percent of readers who, because of their reading habits, always use
physical resources. Similarly, the invention of paper and printing technology in ancient China
improved ways of reading and reading ability tremendously, speeding up the progress of
mankind’s literate culture. And the main kinds of traditional publications, such as newspapers,
journals and books have been developing with the increasing need to read. In developing
countries, most people have long been used to paper reading. Choice of printed materials over
digital materials is probably because they feel uncomfortable and slow in thinking facing the
screen. When digital libraries first appeared, their users had already been using computers in
their work and leisure for a long time and they readily accepted digital publications.
Lack of computer retrieving skills and knowledge
Older readers are used to reading characters and many of them are not familiar with computers
and networks. Icons are essentially pictures of things used to make the operation of computers
more visually oriented and easier to understand for the novice. But the color and glare of the
screen make the eyes of many tired easily – few people, even in developed countries, like to read
a lengthy book in front of the computer. Reading for a long time on screen soon becomes tiring,
and this is one reason why readers – both young as well as old – give up reading digital sources
Digital reading is so closely related with reading habit and its influence on digital libraries is so
great that a discussion seems desirable. In developing libraries, digital library products are
relatively scanty. They are not psychologically prepared to give up the traditional reading mode
and shift to the new mode of reading digital materials. The number of business deals and e-
commerce benefits that are available through the net simply cannot be availed by poorer
countries. This makes the reading psychology of library readers in a kind of dynamic course of
developing constantly. Readers who have accepted digital publications as a new form for reading
are culturally more dynamic and find it easier to get acquainted with higher cultural dynamics
and grasp the characteristics of the digital library and the techniques of digital library use. So,
compared with printed document, the digital audience’s colony is still very young, and has had a
good education. Only a relatively small number of people are well educated and have read many
books, but still do not have the digital reading habit.
It should be taken into account that users of university libraries are considerably well acquainted
with techniques of computer use. In public libraries, on the other hand, readers are generally less
well educated and many are at a loss in front of a computer screen. Coupled with their lack of
education, most of them have never received any computer knowledge and training.
Unfamiliarity with computers and networks and lack of ability are the main factors. Another
factor is simply that many did not know what the library actually buys, while some older
teachers even think that they are too old to learn how to use digital information resources. When
they need such digital sources, they have their graduate students search for them. The influence
of age is a major factor in reading habits. It is one variable that correlates with comfort with
computers and use of digital resources. Younger generations have grown up with computers.
Digital resources are more frequently used by younger readers than older ones. It is believed that
digital resources decrease the quality and rigor of research literature searches. The older the
respondent, the more likely they were to report that unfriendly interfaces waste users’ time, and
older scholars report more trouble with interfaces. Older readers are less likely to think that
digital resource usage increases scholarly productivity, but they are more willing to pay for
copies from traditional books or journals.
Solving the problem of digital libraries in developing countries
Digital libraries are based on varying numbers of users, and consequently do not provide a basis
for analyzing any trends. The attributes of digital resources offered by a national digital library
were studied qualitatively from the web pages of the service in relation to the use of the service.
When librarians in developing countries discuss the digitization of the library, they discuss more
about the question of technology. They seem to think that if the library makes a website into a
digital document, then the library will become modernized and readers of the library will become
network readers too. Readers may change overnight from reading printed documents to reading
the digital documents offered to them. They are glad to enjoy the modern service that the library
offered. In fact, this neglects an important problem that the networked library develops on the
basis of traditional library when a lot of the service methods of the traditional library are also
extended. If thousands of printed documents lose their value, then the library is unable to offer
books to the reader to read or to use, and this will be a tremendous waste.
Effective citizen action is possible only when citizens know how to gain access to information of
all kinds and have the skills to become responsible, informed participants in democracies. In the
digital design of the modern library, no matter what the representation of the functions,
utilization of the resources, expansion of readers’ space, selection of the library’s location, etc.,
must be taken into consideration. In the digital age, the emphasis should be on making
technology work for all, on delivering core services through networks, on integrating
technologies and maintaining holistic computer environments, and on collaborating across
administrative lines. They seem to be stressing the importance of delivering digital information
to all those who require it by exploiting information and communications technology, and by
breaking down unhelpful departmental barriers.
Library staffs are also important for library managers to consider the ways in which they can
actively lead and facilitate the development of successful digital libraries, both in terms of
organizational structures and management style, rather than simply concentrating on the effects
of digital services on service staff. Librarians in developing countries must remember that for a
very long time people in their countries have been used to obtaining knowledge and information
in printed form, such as newspapers and periodicals. Especially for people older than 50, there is
a kind of special preference for printed documents and a reliance on culture. Books do not
merely bring knowledge and enjoyment to readers from just their content and appearance, but
also the quality of the material brings different impressions to readers. Although digital
documents have fully reflected the advantages of networked communications and resource
sharing, their use requires equipment, such as computers and telecommunications, which books
do not, and so a programmed pattern has long been a factor in reading behavior.
Libraries in developing countries must also pay close attention to their environmental changes
now. In order to meet the new changes of the information environment, the library community
must make greater efforts do more work to fulfill the mission and aim of the digital library again
and redesign the work flow of the library and institutional framework, and carry on research into
the service mode of readers with traditional reading habits in the digital environment of the
library. The coexisting relation and integration tendency of printed and network periodicals
should also be discussed. What the libraries of developing countries must also do is correct
mistaken ideas about digital libraries and explore actively and to have the courage to bring forth
new ideas. Libraries should seize the opportunity to look for the best growing point suitable for
themselves, gain support from digital technology, expand their own service range and projects,
improve service efficiency and quality, and lay the foundation for the realization of a digital
library, rather than wait for the coming of digitization. Digital libraries must provide a better
learning and reading environment for readers with traditional reading habits. There is much work
to do when libraries realize that many differences exist between information resources on the
internet and those in traditional libraries. In order to satisfy users’ needs and to achieve the
functions of education in the era of information networks, libraries have to explore the influences
of digital resources on readers and survey the content and methods of user education in internet
Libraries in developing countries must study how to establish such a system using library
automation systems, how to improve the quality of purchasing, how to improve the system of
borrowing, and how to improve and read issues such as environment. Digital librarians should
develop new service values in addition to the “timeless” library service values of equity of
access, personal service and meeting all users’ needs. In the digital age, the emphasis should be
on making technology work for all, on delivering core services through networks, on integrating
technologies and maintaining holistic computer environments, and on collaborating across
administrative lines. Emphasis should also be placed on: proposing a framework for a
personalized and group information environment based on library automation systems; studying
how to track user interests dynamically and apply the research results to a personalized digital
service; and building user-oriented construction of organizational communication in libraries by
taking system approaches and implementing a prototype system, making for a personalized
reading environment. Librarians are also developing new roles in the digital age as advisers and
navigators through the maze of information that is available digitally. A full understanding of
human, cultural and organizational factors will be helpful to library managers in grasping the
nettle and developing effective, high-quality digital information services.
•Undoubtedly, digitization can widen the service function of libraries, improve their
service level, and increase their social reputation. This is the direction of development in
the modernization of libraries. The present author does not object to digitization, but is
opposed to the blind imitation of digitization. Digital construction should develop
according to the actual situation of, and on the basis of, the traditional library.
•It is not possible to purchase all books or go through books in short period hence If you
(student) get the opportunity of finding the desired books, they may read more. They
sometimes prefer reading through the internet or following up book reviews. Such
opportunities can be thought as effective means for fostering reading habits.
•Documents that the library has collected have mainly been various kinds of printed
materials. Printed documents are an advantage of the library for traditional users because
digital documents cannot totally replace them. It is also unnecessary to digitize all the
collected documents of a traditional library. Moreover, in developing countries, the
traditional service of the library should be strengthened after entering the mixed digital
and traditional phase.
•The basic function of the library is to keep human cultural heritage, launch social
education, transmit scientific and technological information, and develop intelligence
•One advantage of digitization lies in its search function, as it is convenient, easy to carry
out and to read, and books and magazines are still the reader’s first selection. Thinking
that digital documents are superior to traditional printed documents assumes that readers
go to libraries only in order to search documents, or that they are happy to read digital
documents, It is wrong to assume that digital documents are superior to traditional printed
documents and that readers go to the library only to search documents or only to read
•The modification of the culture of a group or an individual can result from contact with a
different culture, reading habits, computer skills and knowledge, retrieval skills, etc., but
readers in developing countries are different to those in developed countries. So librarians
in developing countries should pay more attention to a library’s deposits of printed books
and periodicals over a longer period.
•Libraries in developing countries should also devote their efforts to doing well in all
service work (as they have done in traditional libraries)
•When developing digital libraries in the actual conditions of their own country, as well as
to meeting the needs of readers with traditional reading habits.
•In conducting user training, librarians can easily locate those system features that are
unfamiliar to users. Librarians are also developing new roles in the digital age as advisers
and navigators through the maze of information that is available digitally.
•A full understanding of human, cultural and organizational factors will be helpful to
library managers in grasping the nettle and developing effective, high-quality digital
•Digital libraries need digital readers who possess adequate skills , knowledge and
experience, and these may be very different from those required of the traditional reader.
•The pattern of reading, as is known from the past, may not be the same as reading as it is
known today or in the future. Research in reading habits needs to be further updated by
including current advancement in ICT, where the technology has enabled reading to be
more timely and somewhat non-linear by using devices such as computers, PDAs and
wireless phones without the presence of any printed document.
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versus reference service for the largely digital library”, College & Research Libraries,
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Departments; Muhlise Coşgun Ögeyik & Esin Akyay; Trakya University Faculty of
Education Edirne, Turkey, 2009
Jyoti Verma Vijetacharya Malviya
Project Assistant Librarian
School of Telemedicine & Biomedical Informatics, Devprayag Institute of Technical Studies, (DITS)
(SGPGIMS), Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Phaphamau, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh.
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