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Discovery on a budget: Improved searching without a Web-scale discovery product


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Discovery is a key component of a library's services, and user expectations are high. Even if a web-scale discovery system isn't in the cards, there is plenty a library can do to improve discovery for their users. Librarians at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville have been engaged in an ongoing discovery improvement project encompassing the website, catalog, database lists and more, all based on extensive user feedback. The presenters will share successful strategies for evaluating and improving discovery, no expensive software or programming skills necessary.

Chris Bulock and Lynette Fields, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Published in: Education, Technology
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Discovery on a budget: Improved searching without a Web-scale discovery product

  1. 1. DISCOVERY ON A BUDGETImproved searching without a Web-scalediscovery productChris Bulock, Electronic Resources Librariancbulock@siue.eduLynn Fields, Director of Technical
  2. 2. Who we are• Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) • Master’s level with several professional programs • Approximately 14,000 students • 11,000 undergraduates • 3,000 graduate and professional school students
  3. 3. Who we are• Library and Information Services (LIS) (Lovejoy Library) • Collections • Approximately 800,000 volumes • 10,000 cataloged eBooks • 3,000 print journals • 19,000 full-text eJournals • 650,000 government publications • 1.6 million pieces of microform • 142,000 maps • 31,000 multimedia items
  4. 4. Resource discovery• Local and universal catalogs
  5. 5. Resource discovery• Local catalog – UFind
  6. 6. Resource discovery• Consortial catalog – I-Share
  7. 7. Resource discovery• Universal catalog – WorldCat Local Quick Start
  8. 8. Resource discovery• Journals and general and subject-specific database lists
  9. 9. Resource discovery• eJournal list - SFX
  10. 10. Resource discovery• Database list by subject
  11. 11. Resource discovery• All databases and eResources
  12. 12. User Studies• LIS Web Task Force formed in 2009 • Charged with considering the future of the website • Decided to approach website redesign from the bottom up
  13. 13. Paper Study One• Paper worksheet that simulated navigating the library website • Seven navigational questions of varying complexity • Two additional questionnaires: • Demographic information • Wrap up questions soliciting input on ways to improve the website
  14. 14. Paper Study One - Results• 109 participants • 79 undergraduates, 11 graduate students, 14 faculty and staff, 5 other• Data revealed confusion regarding the website both in terms of organization and use of library jargon• Comments included: • “Too many links” • “Not meaningful. Find better labels for sections.”
  15. 15. Paper Study One - Action• Central section of the website was reduced to three broad sections • No more than four links under each section• Left column of the page reserved for quick links to specific resource discovery tools• Right column links reserved for public relations items such as New Books, Featured Resources and Trials, etc.• Planned a second paper study using the redesigned website
  16. 16. Paper Study Two• Survey instrument identical to first, but with images from new website
  17. 17. Paper Study Two - Results• 75 participants • 65 undergraduates, 6 graduate students, 4 faculty and staff• Participants did a better job of completing the discovery tasks, but: • still confusion about possible overlap between links • terminology not always clear• Comments more positive • “The division of links into concise sections was helpful.” • “I like the new layout, thanks for your dedication.”
  18. 18. Paper Study Two - Action• Because so much had been moved to secondary pages, the Task Force decided a paper study was no longer telling the whole story • Decided an observational study would provide more data
  19. 19. Observational Study One• Limited to two tasks performed on live website • Investigators notated each link clicked, and the time taken to complete the task• Same demographic and wrap up questions as paper study
  20. 20. Observational Study One - Results• 25 participants • 18 undergraduates, 5 graduate students, and 2 faculty and staff• Success rates were lower than on the paper study, due to confusion on secondary web pages • About half of participants were unable to complete the discovery tasks• Comments were generally positive, but several participants noted that the website would be very clear and easy once they had more experience. • Several participants noted that instruction would be helpful
  21. 21. Observational Study One - Action• Study showed more improvements were necessary • Modified the order of links and the language used on secondary pages • Goal was to help clarify the difference between the journal list, the list of all eResources (databases) and eResources (databases) arranged by subject• Second observational study was planned
  22. 22. Observational Study Two• Same survey instrument as Observational Study One • Participants were divided into two groups and shown two different versions of the main page, but the same secondary pages
  23. 23. Observational Study Two - Results• 50 participants • 32 undergraduates, 16 graduate students, and 2 others• Participants were much more successful with both tasks than Observation Study One • The different versions of the main page did not seem to affect the results• Comments were mostly positive • “Very easy to navigate.” • “Once you know where everything is, it is easy.”
  24. 24. Overall - Demographics
  25. 25. Overall - Finding a Journal by Title
  26. 26. Overall - Finding an Article by Subject
  27. 27. Outcomes• Website redesign was guided by user input• Observational Study Two showed that more improvements were still needed• Studies emphasized the importance of regularly surveying users and using those results to aid in website redesign
  28. 28. Catalog User Study
  29. 29. Catalog User Study• Three separate surveys • eBooks • Searching and facets • Shared catalog (I-Share)• Short – 4 questions plus demographics and wrap up• Observational – “talk out loud”• 42 participants • 35 undergraduates, 7 graduate students
  30. 30. Demographics 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 undergraduate graduate
  31. 31. Library Experience
  32. 32. Frequency of Library Visits
  33. 33. Catalog User Study - eBooks• What we wanted to determine: • Could participants: • Find an eBook in our catalog • Distinguish between an eBook and a print book • Sort through a large hit-list to find eBooks• Results • Hit or miss performance • Narrowed results to “electronic” 9 of 60 times • Lots of scrolling through results screens • Occasionally misidentified print books as eBooks
  34. 34. Catalog User Study – Lovejoy Searching• What we wanted to determine: • Could participants: • Decipher our catalog displays • Limit by using facets• Results • Participants could generally navigate catalog • Used facets in some cases, but usually not • Again, often favored scrolling over limiting • Had difficulty dealing with uncertainty
  35. 35. Catalog User Study – I-Share Searching• What we wanted to determine: • Could participants: • Decipher the I-Share display • Limit by using facets • Did participants understand the difference between the local catalog and I-Share• Results • Students could navigate I-Share • Some had trouble finding local holdings in I-Share • 7 of 12 students narrowed by language on appropriate question • 8 of 12 narrowed by format or region on appropriate question
  36. 36. Overall - Searching
  37. 37. Overall - Facets
  38. 38. Participated in Library Instruction201816141210 8 6 4 2 0 no intro major other
  39. 39. Impact of Instruction• Students with instruction used average of • 1.62 non-keyword searches • 1.04 facets• Students without instruction used average of • 1.38 non-keyword searches • 0.69 facets• Not statistically significant
  40. 40. What We Learned• Gap between freshman instruction and senior capstone instruction• Need to develop more specific instruction sessions on topics such as eBooks and facets• Need to develop more collaborative partnerships with teaching faculty
  41. 41. What is Discovery?• More than journey from search box to full text• Many factors affect end result • Research question, search terms • Organization of library website • Place of search/browse tool • Description/name of tool • Terminology and labels • Look of database/catalog • First page of results • Ease of getting to full text • Technical problems Space shuttle discovery, NASA
  42. 42. Core Lessons1. Names and Language2. Order Matters3. Be Familiar4. Let Users Help You5. Search Boxes6. Work Together
  43. 43. 1. Names and Language• Define the following: • Database • Research • Periodical • E-resource• Will students know what these are?
  44. 44. 1. Names and Language• Action-based language • Get, find, search, ask• Cut down on vendor branding • Meaningful service names (not SFX)• User needs to know what they can do
  45. 45. 2. Order Matters• First impressions are important • Front page • First page of results • First link• Arrange for prominence • Services listed on page • Sources in resolver menu • DBs in subject guide Jason Molenda
  46. 46. 2. Order Matters•Minimize reading
  47. 47. 3. Be Familiar
  48. 48. 3. Be Familiar• Doesn’t have to mirror Google, but certain conventions are worth noting• What do you see in different parts of the screen?
  49. 49. 4. Let Users Help You• Surveys, focus groups, observation studies• Get more than just the vocal minority• Feedback forms• Blogs
  50. 50. 4. Let Users Help You• Automate whenever you can• Link resolver• Proxy server• Use language users will understand• Google forms
  51. 51. 5. Search Boxes• No box can search everything • But people will use it for anything• NCSU single search analysis • Used for articles, catalog, website, more •• If search box is limited, make that clear • Searches of database titles (not db content) problematic
  52. 52. 5. Search Boxes• You can already bring article searching to the front page• Do you already have a starting point for article searching? • WorldCat Local quick start • Multi-subject databases• Do they have an API you could use?
  53. 53. 6. Work Together• Discovery doesn’t respect department divisions • Web design • Electronic Resources • Cataloging • Collections and Metadata • Instruction • Teaching faculty• Work together from the beginning
  54. 54. Wrap up• Don’t just think like a user, get them involved• Keep changing• Remember that discovery process has many steps “Fostering Discovery through Web Interface Design: Perpetual Beta as the New Norm” in Planning and Implementing Resource Discovery Tools in Academic Libraries Mary Pagliero Popp and Diane Dallis implementing-resource-discovery-tools/62623
  55. 55. Questions?