Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Searching the online library for known items

One of the findings of our user studies of Summon was that students struggled with finding "known items". Where they had been given an exact citation of, for example, a journal article they did not know where to start. This is probably not surprising ... "twas ever thus". Providing some basic sessions on recognising citation elements and referencing would help students in this area.

Another symptom of the searching known item problem at our library is that increasingly higher percentages of requests that come through our document delivery system are for items the library already holds.

A recent study from University of Nevada looked into this phenomenon in more detail. This appeared in a journal article in New Library World and is worth reading.

It's at DOI 10.1108/03074801111117050

Kress, N., Del Bosque, D & Ipri, T (2011). User failure to find known library items, New Library World, Vol. 112, 3/4, 150 - 170.

"Findings – Participants in the study failed to locate known items for multiple reasons, but from the usability testing and analysis three major areas emerged: finding the correct starting-point for the search, information not indexed for a selected search, and clicking on the call number link. The complexity of library resources was the main contributor to these failures. Participants expected library searching to behave like their other search experiences."

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