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An Overview of the IMLS Project: Sense-making the information confluence: The whys and hows of college and university user satisficing of information needs.

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Presentation on theme: "An Overview of the IMLS Project: Sense-making the information confluence: The whys and hows of college and university user satisficing of information needs."— Presentation transcript:

1 An Overview of the IMLS Project: Sense-making the information confluence: The whys and hows of college and university user satisficing of information needs Library of Congress Forum American Library Association Midwinter Conference Boston, MA January 16, 2005 Lynn Silipigni Connaway, OCLC Chandra Prabha, OCLC Brenda Dervin, OSU

2 Sense-Making the information confluence: The whys and hows of college and university user satisficing of information needs Project funded by: –Institute of Museum and Library Services $ 480,543 grant to Ohio State University –Ohio State University (OSU) $209,340 in kind contribution –Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) $319,412 in kind contribution

3 SENSE-MAKING THE INFORMATION CONFLUENCE: PROJECT PHASES Project duration Calendar years, 2004 and 2005 Four phases: I.Literature reviews and dialogue II.Sense-making surveys: online & phone III.Focus group interviews IV.Structured observations

4 SENSE-MAKING THE INFORMATION CONFLUENCE: STUDY POPULATIONS 44 colleges and universities 100 mile radius from Columbus 400 informants each: faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and netLibrary users Samples, stratified by Carnegie institutional class codes

5 SENSE-MAKING THE INFORMATION CONFLUENCE: PROJECT DIALOGUES AND LIBRARIAN SURVEYS –Local Advisory Committee –National Advisory Committee –OCLC Members Council –OCLC Board of Trustees

6 SENSE-MAKING THE INFORMATION CONFLUENCE: LOCAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE PARTICIPANTS Library director or representative from each of the 44 academic institutions + the directors of geographically contingent public libraries 79 were invited 31 participated

7 Half-day Forum at OCLC Dublin Campus April 7, 2004

8 In your judgment, what are the BIG UNANSWERED QUESTIONS about users of information services?

9 1. Big unanswered questions about users Who are the users? How do we define/categorize our users? Where are they getting their information? What are they using for research? Why dont users think of the library first? Why arent they using our services?

10 If we could get answers to these big unanswered questions about users, HOW WOULD THE ANSWERS HELP in your work?

11 2. How would the answers help? Planning/changing the library mission Allocating, organizing of resources Developing collections, designing services Developing training materials for users & staff Marketing my library

12 What explains WHY THESE QUESTIONS are not yet answered?

13 3. Why these questions are not answered? Users have not been asked right questions –Questions change, users change Not enough agreement –On identifying issues Our attitude toward users –Users need to learn from us, not us from users Libraries focus on themselves – not broader Too rapid change, dynamic technological changes

14 What are the biggest challenges the ADVANCE OF ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS presents to library and information services in serving users well?

15 4. Biggest challenges of the advance of electronic information systems Too much information, too many choices Not knowing what resources users will use Users not in the library –Interaction/service/access to remote users Designing systems for users – not librarians Competing with - Google, Amazon, Ask Jeeves…

16 As you look at these challenges, WHAT UNDERSTANDING OF USERS would help us handle these challenges better?

17 5. What understandings would help? What users need/want –Why they need, how they approach their information needs How users locate/approach information –What barriers/frustrations they face How users view information Current usage patterns –Current demographics, different study patterns

18 Some people say we know a lot about users, but the understandings aren't available to us in useful ways. WHATS YOUR OPINION? If you agree, what would need to be done to make the knowledge about users more useful?

19 6. Why understandings of users not available in useful ways What is systemized does not help What practitioners really know is not systemized Insight does not necessarily produce change Do not collect relevant data –Do not know how to analyze data –Do not use managerial data Need local/institution specific surveys

20 Others suggest that we are buried in a mountain of conflicting understandings of users – that just about everyone -- service, resource, and technology providers, librarians, and researchers in just about every field -- has something to say about users. If you agree with this, what would need to be done to make this mountain of understandings more useful?

21 7. What would make the mountain of understandings of users more useful? Stop thinking of typical/global users –Focus on local users/customers Integrate commonalities among studies –Link findings from other disciplines, groups Simplify the language –Develop common vocabulary to communicate Make LIS interdisciplinary

22 As you look at the differences between how practitioners and researchers look at users, have you found this difference a barrier in any way? If so, how? What do you think could be done to diminish this barrier?

23 8. Differences between how practitioners and researchers look at users Researchers ask why questions Practioners are interested in how questions Researchers see users in abstract Practitioners see users in real-time Pursue collaborative research –Make practitioners an integral part of research

24 Have you found strengths and advantages in the diversity of understandings about users? If so, what are these and how have they been useful to your work?

25 9. How the diversity of understandings about users help Helps in providing services Provides depth and perspective Is frustrating Different solutions to different problems

26 If you could wave a magic wand, what would help you to apply the different ideas & research about users to your work in more useful ways?

27 10. What would help you to apply research… Blending from public, schools and academia –Commonality of research/skills Focus on the format of information –Create one-step access to electronic resources How users gather and use information –List ways users access/use information Conferences on understanding users Simplify research results

28 SENSE-MAKING THE INFORMATION CONFLUENCE: ONLINE SURVEY OF LIBRARIANS OCLC Members Council and Board of Trustees –126 online surveys distributed –34 responses = 27% response rate

29 What are the biggest challenges to serving users well that the proliferation of electronic library and information systems and services presents? –User expectations – Google-like Meeting users technology needs instead of librarians needs –User training –Non-standard search interfaces

30 What understandings of users would help library and information professionals handle these challenges better? –How users look for information –Why and when users seek information

31 Do you think researchers look at users differently than practitioners look at users? –Overwhelming affirmative response Theory vs. practice Ivory tower vs. real world Researchers general approach vs. practitioners individualized approach Researchers – unreality paint

32 What research would help you the most to improve your library systems and services? –What respondents want to know How users get their information What makes people seek information at the library How to make library search interface like Google –How researchers can gather these data User surveys Link quality of service to user satisfaction Library impact studies

33 What librarians want to know About college and university users Who are the users? Where are they getting their information? What users need/want? How users locate/approach information? Why dont users think of the library first?

34 SENSE-MAKING THE INFORMATION CONFLUENCE: USER PERSPECTIVE Five situations that needed input….. 1.Troublesome situation in university /college life 2.Situation involving research or scholarship 3.Troublesome situation in life outside of university/college context 4.Situation in university/college with most input from electronic sources 5.Situation in life outside of university/college life with most input from electronic sources

35 Time for your input…

36 END NOTES (1)Cite this presentation as:Connaway, Lynn Silipigni; Prabha, Chandra, & Dervin, Brenda (2005). An Overview of the IMLS Project: Sense-making the information confluence: The whys and hows of college and university user satisficing of information needs. PowerPoint presentation at Library of Congress Forum, American Library Association Midwinter Conference, Boston, MA, January 16. (2)This presentation is one of the outcomes from the project Sense- making the information confluence: The whys and hows of college and university user satisficing of information needs." Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Resources, Ohio State University, and the Online Computer Library Center, the project is being implemented by Brenda Dervin (Professor of Communication and Joan N. Huber Fellow of Social & Behavioral Science, Ohio State University) as Principal Investigator; and Lynn Silipigni Connaway (OCLC Consulting Research Scientist III) and Chandra Prabha (OCLC Research Scientist), as Co- Investigators. More information can be obtained at:


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