The Public Library Catalogue as a Social Space: Usability Studies of User Interaction with Social Discovery Systems Louise Spiteri, Dalhousie University Laurel Tarulli, Halifax Public Libraries
Academic theory vs. public library practice
Examining social catalogues on our own:
Tagging, Collaboration, Sharing
Functions and uses outside the box
Potential to impact core library services
Meeting users needs and expectations
Merger of two library worlds – the practical and theoretical
Benefits of working together
Different perspectives and approaches
Different needs and applications for the research
Today's Library Catalogues:
Important and fundamental medium between users and their information needs
Competing against powerful alternatives for information discovery
Extensions of the physical library, considered in a social context as well as fulfilling information needs
Potential to impact core library services, with our emphasis on user-centered collections and RA driven services
Growing in popularity and increased implementation in libraries
Need to evaluate the usefulness of social catalogues
How are they being used?
Frequency of use and features being used?
No comprehensive studies in Canada to evaluate usability among staff and library users
Evaluation that has occurred is vendor-based and has not been published
Choosing the participants
Two Canadian Public Libraries
Leading discovery tools in Canada
Different launch dates – does use change over time?
Familiarity with the two social catalogue solutions
Halifax Public Libraries
Launched AquaBrowser in April 2010
Is it what the users want?
What works, what doesn't? How is it being used?
How can we make it even better?
Where are we going and how do we get there?
Was it a good investment?
Expressed interest in research
Largest public library east of Toronto
Represents rural, suburban and urban users
Variety of age groups, income levels, education levels and diverse communities
Edmonton Public Library
Launched BiblioCommons in September 2009
Major library system in the mid-West representing a large geographic area with diverse communities, income and educational levels
Interest in the research and what it will tell them about their social catalogue
Scope of our research agenda To examine:
The extent to which public library users, librarians, and library staff can efficiently access, use, and interact with social discovery systems;
The public library users’ perception of, and satisfaction with, the benefits of social discovery systems; and
The public library librarians’ and staffs’ perception of, and satisfaction with, the benefits of social discovery systems.
Specific goal of current project
The specific goal of this project is to examine and compare how library users access, use, and interact with two social discovery systems used in two Canadian public library systems.
Research questions How do public library users interact with social discovery systems?
Which enhanced catalogue features do they use, e.g., faceted navigation, user-contributed content such as tagging, reviews, and ratings, sorting features, etc., and with which frequency?
How does usage between the two social discovery systems compare?
Are there commonalities or differences between how public library users use different social discovery systems?
Research questions Does the use of social discovery systems change over time?
Is the use of the features in social discovery systems consistent over time?
Transaction logs of the social discovery systems used by Halifax and Edmonton will be compiled over a four-month period.
A transaction log is an electronic record of interactions that have occurred between a system and users of that system. Transaction log analysis (TLA) is a way of collecting data unobtrusively without directly interfacing with the catalogue users and that allows researchers to observe and analyze user behaviours.
Limitations of transaction log analysis
TLA is only the first step in a comprehensive usability study, since it can indicate only how users interact with a system, not the reasons for their choices. TLA can provide useful information about how the features of a system are used and can inform decisions about how these features can be improved.
Since TLA does not explain the reasons for users’ interaction with the systems, nor the extent to which they are satisfied with the systems, future research will focus on usability studies, consisting of structured observations, questionnaires and focus groups with users and library staff
Types of data gathered Type of search used (e.g., keyword, subject) Use of relevance ranking features Use of sorting features Use of tagging features Use of posted reviews Use of ratings features Use of faceted navigation
User behaviour An ethogram will be designed to categorize and define the behavioural patterns of the users. An ethogram is an index of the behavioural patterns of a particular group, in this case, public library users. Examples of categories of behaviour include:
Search process (Type of search used, e.g., keyword, subject)
View results (How user chooses to have the system display the results)
A set of 50 catalogue records will be examined (weekly) in both systems to track changes to tags, reviews, and ratings assigned by the clients.
10 Adult fiction
10 Adult non-fiction
10 Children's fiction
10 Children's non-fiction
10 Graphic novels
Mapping user tags to LCSH
Although the nature of the tags used is not directly related to the scope of this project, we are interested in comparing the tags assigned by clients to the corresponding LC headings assigned to the record.
Mapping user tags to LCSH
Cross-reference ( tag is cross-referenced in LCSH, e.g: Serbia SEE ALSO Serbia and Montenegro)
Spelling variation (e.g., labor/labour)
Syntactical variation (e.g., sofa/couch)
Inversion (e.g., ancient philosophy/philosophy, ancient)
Future studies Future research will focus on usability studies, consisting of structured observations, questionnaires and focus groups with users and library staff, to measure:
Usefulness : How well does the system enable users/staff to achieve their goals?
Effectiveness : How well does the system behave in the way that users/staff expect it to?
Efficiency : How long does it take library users/staff to accomplish their desired tasks?
Learnability : How easily can users/staff learn how to use the system?
Satisfaction : How well does the system meet library users’/staff needs and expectations?
Funding for this research study is provided by the OCLC/ALISE Library and Information Science Research Grant Program.
Thank You Louise Spiteri School of Information Management Dalhousie University [email_address] http://sim.management.dal.ca
Laurel Tarulli Collection Access Librarian Halifax Public Libraries [email_address] http://www.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca The Cataloguing Librarian Blog http://laureltarulli.wordpress.com