Academic libraries invest significant resources in acquiring foreign-language materials under the assumption that these materials are necessary to support research and teaching in area studies. Yet there is little data to show how these materials are used by scholars. To address this gap, this study investigates how frequently U.S. scholars cite secondary sources in languages other than English, using German Studies as an example from which findings may be extrapolated to other area studies fields.
A citation analysis method was selected because, unlike other types of data such as usage statistics or faculty requests, it measures whether sources are incorporated into scholarly outputs.
Unlike previously published studies of this type, this study focuses on a field where primary sources are nearly always in a language other than English, and looks specifically at the language of secondary sources. Because selectors for area studies are more likely to buy materials in foreign languages, and because more library resources are often required to add foreign-language materials to the collection (e.g., additional vendors, shipping costs, and cataloging), it is important to know how often scholars in these fields use secondary sources written in languages other than English, and whether that use is increasing or decreasing.
The results of this study will help library selectors for area studies fields to better understand scholarly communication in these fields and inform collections decisions. The poster will include visual representations of the data as well as an overview of other relevant studies.
Tara Murray– Librarian for Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, Penn State University Libraries