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Are Users Finding Our Online Reference Resources? Stephen Abram, MLS Lighthouse Consulting, Dysart & Jones RUSA Panel Webinar Wednesday, November 20, 2013 2pm/CST; 3pm/EST
What do I want to share today? • It’s just a 15 minute overview! • The six key issues on why our users aren’t finding the resources they need as successfully as they should and could. • And, they aren’t… • And it’s our issue to solve . . . Not for them to train-up for.
1. Understand the difference between Search and Find Roy Tennant and I have been saying for years: “Users want to find not search”. Librarians enjoy the challenge of search and try to create mini-librarians. Information literacy is different than contextual information fluency. “Search” is not a single skill and Boolean is a crazy first step for the average end-user – the real competency being taught and hopefully learned here is learning, research and decision-making.
2. Understand the difference between the roles of discovery services and native search Search is the identification of potential objects to read or view in either a known item retrieval scenario or – more importantly – an immersion environment where choices are made. Until recently, we handled immersion environments in the context of defined subsets of content (a single database or small group). Discovery services are one step before search – the identification and discovery of the resources (databases) that are worth searching.
Double a penny every day for a month = Over $1 billion in just 30 days
And the Algorithm Understanding Failure The power of algorithm is in the target user needs, the institutional needs, and the behavioral history . . . Not the underlying content Are there any real national initiatives to understand and differentiate library end user behaviors from Google commercial constructs? (yes but …)
3. Get the naming and labeling right Vendors must develop unique names and brands for their services to meet positioning, marketing and sales needs to you. There is no need for you to fall in line and pass through these names – or worse try to train end users to know hundreds of them! Can anyone defend using these titles to be the single most important label for end users? MLA, Scopus, Compendex, ABI/Inform . . .? Honestly! The needs of trademark law don’t match the needs of users to identify resources.
4. Stop trying to emulate Google – ferchrissakes Are you SEO, SMO, ad, geo-tag, and link bait focused? Do you want algorithms that display content based on commercial priorities? Do you want your algorithm to display the paid-for term and questionable quality content spam? Are your services (digital and personal) about Who, What, When and Where – ready reference? Or do you focus on Why and How – research impact? Clearly know how you’re different not a pale copy.
5. Context and Culture rule Describe and map your user’s real workflows and not just our understanding of the small segment we see. Seek to understand how learning, research and / or decision-making happen. Finding the resource is insufficient – especially if I must print it, can’t easily cite it, have difficulty loading it agnostically on any device . . . etc.
6. Invest in persona development If you still only segment by undergrads, grads and faculty . . . You’re failing to understand the real user. e.g. Does anyone really prioritize content and answers by format?
Impact: Your Strategies and Priorities What should libraries do?
Modest suggestions to approach on a global not institutional scale • Stop seeing ‘search’ as a single goal or solution • Put targeted content experiences in the path of the user, learner, researcher… in learning management systems, social media, intranets, etc. • Develop better and stronger partnerships with IT support and user group liaison • Massive shift to the “Cloud” and not just software . . . • Build a library of shared APIs, frameworks and code and start to integrate the ILS with fulltext, Google, DPLA, OCLC WorldShare and your own and other repositories as well as OpenURL and CCC FindIt • Get better at shared analytics (including geo) to build experiences and algorithms • STOP displaying digital resources based on the shelving and format needs of physical resources • Adopt project management practices including Scrum and Agile methodologies and get faster sprints and iterative development. • Build ‘real’ consortia that rise above buying clubs and really offer cost-effective, rugged platforms (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, with ILS/LMS) for success • Investment in persona development and targeting the end-user experience in workflows and research flows and learning flows
Stephen Abram, MLS, FSLA Consultant, Dysart & Jones/Lighthouse Consulting Cel: 416-669-4855 email@example.com Stephen’s Lighthouse Blog http://stephenslighthouse.com Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr: Stephen Abram LinkedIn: Stephen Abram Twitter: @sabram SlideShare: StephenAbram1