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JISC and OCLC: User Studies

I meant to point to this ages ago but it dropped to the bottom of my inbox.

Roy Tennant first brought it to my attention in his online LJ blog.

Twelve Library User Studies Distilled April 6, 2010

JISC has just announced the paper “The Digital Information Seeker: Report of findings from selected OCLC, RIN and JISC user behaviour projects”. [56 page PDF]

This was prepared for JISC by Lynn Silipigni Connaway and Timothy J. Dickey of OCLC. It “summarizes and compares and contrasts twelve separate user studies from 2005 to 2009.”

Roy highlights the main findings as:

“* Disciplinary differences do exist in researcher behaviours, both professional researchers and students.
* E-journals are increasingly very important to the process of research at all levels.
* The evidence provided by the results of the studies supports the centrality of Google and other search engines.
* Google is often used to locate and access e-journal content.
* At the same time, the entire Discovery-to-Delivery process needs to be supported by information systems, including increased access to resources.
* Journal backfiles are particularly problematic in terms of access

The realities of the online environment observed above led several studies to some common conclusions about changing user behaviours:

* Regardless of age or experience, academic discipline, or context of the information need, speed and convenience are important to users.
* Researchers particularly appreciate desktop access to scholarly content.
* Users also appreciate the convenience of electronic access over the physical library.
* Users are beginning to desire enhanced functionality in library systems.
* They also desire enhanced content to assist them in evaluating resources.
* They seem generally confident in their own ability to use information discovery tools.
* However, it seems that information literacy has not necessarily improved.
* High-quality metadata is thus becoming even more important for the discovery process.

In addition, some common findings regarding content and resources arise:

* More digital content of all kinds and formats is almost uniformly seen as better.
* People still tend to think of libraries as collections of books.
* Despite this, researchers also value human resources in their information-seeking.

In some cases, the studies reviewed included findings which seem to contradict one another, and for which evidence may be mixed:

* There is evidence for both broad and narrow range of tools used for scholarly research.
* There is evidence both in favour and against formal training in electronic searching.
* There are mixed conclusions on the question of whether recommendations, provided by recommender systems, and social media are having an impact on information seeking.”

The bibliography of studies and references alone (which is mostly hot linked) is worth the price (which is of course, free!).

I echo Roy’s encouragement to read the whole report. What’s the point of learning about users if we don’t apply the learning?

Stephen

Posted on: April 27, 2010, 8:08 am Category: Uncategorized