CIL 2009: What Have We Learned Lately About Academic Library Users

Speakers: Daniel Wendling & Neal K. Kaske, University of Maryland

How should we describe information-seeking behavior?

A little over a third of the students interviewed reported that they use Google in their last course-related search, and it’s about the same across all classes and academic areas. A little over half of the same students surveyed used ResearchPort (federated search – MetaLib), with a similar spread between classes and academic areas, although social sciences clearly use it more than the other areas. (survey tool: PonderMatic – copy of survey form in the conference book).

Their methodology was a combination of focus-group interviews and individual interviews, conducted away from the library to avoid bias. They used a coding sheet to standardize the responses for input into a database.

This survey gathering & analysis tool is pretty cool – I’m beginning to suspect that the presentation is more about it than about the results, which are also rather interesting.

 

Speaker: Ken Varnum

Will students use social bookmarking on a library website?

MTagger is a library-based tagging tool, borrowing concepts from resources like Delicious or social networking sites, and intended to be used to organize academic bookmarks. In the long term, the hope is that this will create research guides in addition to those supported by the librarians, and to improve the findability of the library’s resources.

Behind the scenes, they have preserved the concept of collections, which results in users finding similar items more easily. This is different from the commercial tagging tools that are not library-focused. Most tagging systems are tagger-centric (librarians are the exception). As a result, tag clouds are less informative, since most of the tags are individualized and there isn’t enough overlap to make them more visible.

From usability interviews, they found that personal motivations are stronger than social motivations, and that they wanted to have the tags displays alongside traditional search results. They don’t know why, but many users perceived tagging to be a librarian thing and not something they can do themselves.

One other thing that stood out in the usability interviews was the issue of privacy. Access is limited to network login, which has its benefits (your tags and you) and its problems (inappropriate terminology, information living in the system beyond your tenure etc.).

They are redesigning the website to focus on outcomes (personal motivation) rather than on tagging as such.

hangin by a string

Earlier this week, I saw that my friends Kiya & Miriam had a gig up in Germantown, Maryland, last night. I noted that they didn’t have anything else booked on the day before or after, so I emailed them to see if they would have time to stop and visit, since their route would take them by Richmond. I didn’t hear back for sure until Saturday morning, and that was just an email telling me to call later.

I called when I was on my way to a Sacred Harp singing. I’d spent the morning writing, and I’d planned to do some much needed house-cleaning after the singing. However, those plans were scrapped in a few short minutes.

Turns out, they were only about a half an hour away from Richmond, and there was room in the car for me, so did I want to go with them? Heck, yeah!

I quickly dashed home and attempted to do some guest preparations. They arrived shortly thereafter, and off we went.

The show was faboo, despite Kiya having just gotten over being sick and Miriam coming down with what she had. I took some photos, but most of them didn’t turn out too well due to the dim lighting in the venue. I also thought to use my camera to capture some audio/video. Here’s most of the encore, “Hangin by a String”:

this land is your land

A geographic meme, courtesy of Sorcha. Also, places where US paper currency I have spent in the past four and a half years have gone.

bold the states you’ve been to, underline the states you’ve lived in and italicize the state you’re in now…

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

the cubs & that guy

Wil Wheaton’s commentaries on the Cubs loss.

Wil Wheaton has a couple of posts regarding the Cubs sad defeat to the Marlins. First, and amusing letter to Alex Gonzalez from Bill Buckner. Second, an open letter to “that guy” who caught the ball, and who’s face, name, workplace, and reputation has been smeared by the media.