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A library or just another information resource? A case study of users' mental models of traditional and digital libraries

Makri, S; Blandford, A; Gow, J; Rimmer, J; Warwick, C; Buchanan, G; (2007) A library or just another information resource? A case study of users' mental models of traditional and digital libraries. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology , 58 (3) 433 - 445. 10.1002/asi.20510. Green open access

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Abstract

A user's understanding of the libraries they work in, and hence of what they can do in those libraries, is encapsulated in their "mental models" of those libraries. In this article, we present a focused case study of users' mental models of traditional and digital libraries based on observations and interviews with eight participants. It was found that a poor understanding of access restrictions led to risk-averse behavior, whereas a poor understanding of search algorithms and relevance ranking resulted in trial-and-error behavior. This highlights the importance of rich feedback in helping users to construct useful mental models. Although the use of concrete analogies for digital libraries was not widespread, participants used their knowledge of Internet search engines to infer how searching might work in digital libraries. Indeed, most participants did not clearly distinguish between different kinds of digital resource, viewing the electronic library catalogue, abstracting services, digital libraries, and Internet search engines as variants on a theme. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Type:Article
Title:A library or just another information resource? A case study of users' mental models of traditional and digital libraries
Identifier:10.1002/asi.20510
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI:10.1002/asi.20510
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Psychology and Language Sciences (Division of) > UCL Interaction Centre
UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Computer Science

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