Putting Library Discovery Where Users Are

Putting Library Discovery Where Users Are

Scott Garrison, Anne Prestamo, Juan Carlos Rodriguez
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1821-3.ch022
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A number of studies have shown that people start research with Google and other easy, convenient tools. Though they recognize the value of library content, users prefer unmediated, intuitive searching, and consult libraries less than before alternatives existed. To “bring users back,” libraries began adopting discovery systems more like Google in the late 2000s. While these systems, especially good for beginning research, are proving popular, libraries must ask how many users are finding them given how few begin research at the library. This chapter describes why and how to place library discovery systems within the user’s academic context and what tools may facilitate the process, and suggests how libraries may determine how well discovery systems are working, within and beyond this context.
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Background: Where To Embed Discovery And Why

The tradition of libraries as research mediators has clearly given way to a new reality of easy, convenient direct user searching. A 2002 report from the Pew Charitable Trust’s Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 73 percent of college students use the Internet more than their library when searching for information, while only nine percent use the library more than the Internet (Jones & Madden, 2002).

OCLC®1’s 2005 Perceptions of Librarians and Information Resources study reported that 89 percent of undergraduate and graduate students use Web search engines to begin research, while only two percent of users began research on a library website (DeRosa et al., 2005). OCLC®’s 2010 Perceptions study reported that 83 percent of college students use search engines to begin information searches, and that zero percent begin searches at the library website. Further, the study found that “the number of college students using the library Web site declined” from 61 percent in 2005 to 57 percent in 2010 (DeRosa et al., 2010, p. 52), and that “college students feel that search engines trump libraries for speed, convenience, reliability and ease of use” (though “libraries trump search engines for trustworthiness and accuracy;” DeRosa et al., 2010, p. 54).

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