the chief value of print libraries? poor indexing!

One of my favorite sociologists, University of Chicago professor James Evans, had an article in last week’s Science.  Here’s the main finding:

As more journal issues came online, the articles referenced tended to be more recent, fewer journals and articles were cited, and more of those citations were to fewer journals and articles.

The full abstract is here.  But here’s my favorite line from the article:

This research ironically intimates that one of the chief values of print library research is poor indexing.

The idea is that “by drawing researchers through unrelated articles, print browsing and perusal may have facilitated broader comparisons and led researchers into the past.”

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