Digital Library Requirements: A Questionnaire-Based Study

Digital Library Requirements: A Questionnaire-Based Study

Stephen Kimani (Institute of Computer Science and Information Technology at JKUAT, Kenya), Emanuele Panizzi (University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Italy), Tiziana Catarci (University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Italy) and Margerita Antona (FORTH-ICS, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-879-6.ch029
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The gathering of user requirements is key to the gaining of a deeper understanding of the needs evolving from the user’s operational context and from the use of the system. User requirements are pivotal in guiding the development process of any system. This is no less true in the arena of digital libraries (DLs). The gathering of DL requirements should be conducted with the understanding that the anticipated DL user interface should accord support to the user throughout the entire DL usage/interaction process. This chapter describes a questionnaire-based study of DL requirements based on the foregoing understanding. The study covered a wide range of issues pertinent to the design of user interfaces for DLs, including: user characteristics/profiles, current experience in DL usage, functional requirements, nonfunctional requirements, and contextual requirements. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first systematic empirical investigation of DL requirements that covers such a wide range.
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User And Stakeholder Questionnaires

Potential or real DL users (i.e., stakeholders and end users) have a key role toward the successful design of DLs, and the questionnaires can encourage them to word their recommendations on possible support offered by a DL. The questionnaires also enable DL users to contribute to the definition of the scope of DLs’ functional and nonfunctional requirements. Apart from their use in the context of the data collection performed by the cluster, the questionnaires can also be reused in the process of designing digital libraries for the purposes of the user requirements collection phase. The questionnaires3 consist of four parts: user background and demographics; user’s current experience; DL functional requirements; and DL nonfunctional requirements.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Demographics: Demographics refer to the characteristics of human populations and population segments. Demographics include aspects such as age, gender, nationality, occupation, language, and so forth.

Digital Library: Borgman (1999) defines digital libraries as: a set of electronic resources and associated technical capabilities for creating, searching and using information. In this sense they are an extension and enhancement of information storage and retrieval systems that manipulate digital data in any medium (text, images, sounds; static or dynamic images) and exist in distributed networks. The content of digital libraries includes data, metadata that describe various aspects of the data (e.g., representation, creator, owner, reproduction rights), and metadata that consist of links or relationships to other data or metadata, whether internal or external to the digital library. According to the Digital Library Federation (Digital Library Federation, 1999):

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