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MIT Usability Study

MIT is sharing their usability report on their libraries’ online tools.
“Executive Summary:
The SFX/Verde Group was authorized to complete a user needs assessment in the form of a
Photo Diary Study with MIT students in the spring of 2006. The goal of the study was to
inform the MIT Libraries of online tool improvements that should be implemented to meet
our most pressing user needs. Sixteen graduate students and sixteen undergraduate
students participated in offering a fascinating glimpse into the information-seeking aspects
of their academic lives.
The team categorized user behaviors into goals and tasks and then analyzed the 277 goals
and tasks and the 507 methods shared with us by the students in the study. The study
yielded the following priorities for the Libraries’ online tools:
• Make discovery easier and more effective
• Incorporate trusted networks in finding tools
• Continue to put links to the Libraries’ services and resources where the users are
The study also showed that the students used a variety of highly successful strategies for
performing quick lookups of information and finding specific known items. Finally, while
the assessment focused on aspects of the students’ work related to online tools, it also
yielded rich information that could be useful in improving other aspects of the Libraries’
The report draws three key conclusions:
1. Make Discovery and Search Easier and More Effective
2. Incorporate Trusted Networks in Finding Tools
3. Continue Put Links to the Libraries Where the Users Are
There are too few decent usability studies out there (as evidenced by the small bibliography) in the academic space so kudos to MIT for sharing.
You can download the 39 page report PDF here.

Posted on: December 20, 2006, 6:07 am Category: Uncategorized

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