“Quick Search” It Is Not: Testing Response Times of Traditional and NextGen Catalogs. Nina McHale Margaret Brown- Sica LITA Forum 2010. Esteemed Researchers. Our Research. Forthcoming:
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LITA Forum 2010
Margaret Brown-Sica, Jeffrey Beall, and Nina McHale, “Next-Generation Library Catalogs and the Problem of Slow Response Time,” Information Technology and Libraries, Volume 29/4, December 2010, 207-216.
Are NextGen catalogs—or traditional catalogs that add NextGen content—too slow?
Do 2.0/NextGen features slow them down too much?
Features such as cover art, reviews, tagging, etc., can significantly increase the amount of data, and therefore time, required to return a catalog record page.
Performance factors, particularly speed, should be required criteria for librarians and vendors evaluating and designing products.
Jakob Nielsen, Usability Engineering (San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann, 1994) 135.
During a busy time during the semester, we recorded response times in seconds of permalinks for three catalog records
Tested our classic/NextGen catalogs and three others
3 books, 5 catalogs, 3 times per day for 13 days=585 data points
Collecting several data points in this way using www.websitepulse.com ensured that data was consistent
Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience. Washington, DC: Special Inspector General, Iraq Reconstruction, 2009. (OCLC number 302189848)
Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America. 1st ed. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2001. (OCLC number 256770509)
Langley, Lester D. Simón Bolívar: Venezuelan Rebel, American Revolutionary. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, c2009. (OCLC number 256770509)
Auraria’s Skyline: 1.2930
Auraria’s WCL: 11.5734
Library of Congress: 2.1530
University of Texas at Austin: 3.4997
University of Southern California: 4.1085
After data was analyzed, we took a closer look at each individual catalog, using the Hard Lessons catalog record
WebSitePulse™ allowed us to take a glimpse at the inner workings of each catalog
Findings confirmed that extra data and load times were from 2.0/NextGen content
Slowest among traditional catalogs; Sirsi/Dynix takes longer to make initial connection (Item 1 on graph)
8.7295 seconds (though average was 4.1085 seconds)
16 items, 148.47 K
While attractive and well-integrated, Syndetic Solutions content (cover art, summary, author biography, and table of contents) adds 1.2 seconds to load time
“The new database seems based on Amazon.com. I don’t need suggestions, and poor ones at that, of related books when I use the library. I don’t need to see what other borrowers thought of the book. The information I need is poorly displayed. It is hard to cut and paste. It takes several screens to scan through, instead of the much quicker scroll in the traditional format…. It supplies distracting, if not useless information (a picture of the cover, the distance to other libraries—as if I need to know how far Provo is).”
-Auraria Campus Faculty Member
Make performance testing part of evaluation process for vendor products
Adhere to industry standards for acceptable response times when testing
Optimize delivery of 2.0/NextGen features as much as possible
Conduct user testing to ensure that the content is “worth the wait” to their minds