At the Ref Desk (4/25/17): Someone calls but when I pick up the phone all I get is background noise -- people talking, etc. Did he or she just sit on their smartphone and dial out accidentally? Interesting jumping off point for a work of fiction... [more...]
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Library Literature

Search Box Syndrome

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 9/30/11 (10:41am)

We've been here before -- from a usability study looking at how students use (or don't use as the case may be) various library database pages:

In 2006, Steve Krug said internet users were mostly looking for something clickable to click on; BGSU students, by contrast, often looked for a search box to search in. When a search was unsuccessful, instead of retooling it, the student looked for a different search box and tried the same search again. The students in the study tried to change the subset of information they were searching, not the search they had already decided was the best one.

Okay, so the next logical question might be, is this a student preference or is there something about the design of the website that drives them to it? Maybe yes, maybe no but considering the effort we put into all of this, it's certainly worth testing.

But hark! A bit further down in the same study -- apparently vendor consolidation will save the day:

Therefore, if we want students to use a wider range of our resources, it is crucial that we teach them to recognize the resources that will be useful for them. As the brand diversity of our resources narrows, vendors and publishers merge, and vendors market more and more to end users, this strategy may become easier to adopt.

Current Cites for August 2011

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 8/31/11 (7:19pm)

go to Current Cites
Current Cites for August 2011 is out! You can find the issue here...

I wrote about an issue of Libraries & the Cultural Record that looked at libraries during the Depression and contains this rather depressing report on the state of the Chicago Public Library by its Chief Librarian at the time:

We are afflicted by the worst financial hardship we have ever suffered.... We have bought no books for eight months, the magazine subscriptions for 1932 were cancelled."

Current Cites for July 2011

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 7/29/11 (1:58pm)

go to Current Cites

Current Cites for July 2011 is out! You can find the issue here...

IM Widgets More Effective Than Crummy Old Links for Library Chat Reference

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 5/16/11 (8:04pm)

First, I like this study of Chat Reference at S.I.U.-C. because it stresses the need to take its results in context. Maybe you're getting more questions about holdings because you've now got your IM widget on all the database pages listing articles your users are looking for, etc. In any case, the fact that they now have their IM Widget on those pages instead of a simple link seems to have significantly increased virtual traffic:

"The number of SVR ['Synchronous virtual reference' -- i.e. IM] questions increased by another 1,000 in the year when the library embedded a widget into the SFX link resolver menu and EBSCOhost databases. Even though the Ask A Librarian link had been included in the SFX menu and the EBSCOhost banner for many years, an increase was recorded only after the widget was embedded. The increase in SVR questions supports the notion that placement of a widget can influence use."

Julie Arendt, Stephanie J. Graves, (2011) "Virtual question changes: reference in evolving environments", Reference Services Review, Vol. 39 Iss: 2, pp.187 - 205.

Current Cites for March 2011

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 3/31/11 (4:09pm)

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Current Cites for March 2011 is out! You can find the issue here...

I wrote about two articles, first about a Library 2.0 postmortem written by Walt Crawford, and second, about an excellent study of library databases evaluated for accessibility which concluded, to universal embarrassment, "no database included in the study was rated as largely accessible".

Reference Fail

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 11/24/10 (9:31am)

Library-Journal-logoLibrary Journal's got an article getting a lot of attention by Jean Costello with the provocative title, "Why I Don't Use Libraries for Reference Anymore".

Current Cites for October 2010

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 11/7/10 (3:49pm)

go to Current Cites

Current Cites for October 2010 is out! You can find the issue here...

Screencast on Using Drupal Mentioned in Code4Lib Journal

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 9/13/10 (7:37pm)

This is nice. The screencast I put together on creating a database listing using Drupal is mentioned in a Code4Lib article:

Code4lib Journal

"Creating a Library Database Search using Drupal"

When Florida Gulf Coast University Library was faced with having to replace its database locator, they needed to find a low-cost, non-staff intensive replacement for their 350 plus databases search tool. This article details the development of a library database locator, based on the methods described in Leo Klein’s “Creating a Library Database Page using Drupal” online presentation. The article describes how the library used Drupal along with several modules, such as CCK, Views, and FCKeditor. It also discusses various Drupal search modules that were evaluated during the process.

[h/t M. Weaver]

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