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
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 Sense-Making the information confluence: The whys and hows of college and university user satisficing of information needs
SENSE-MAKINGTHE INFORMATION CONFLUENCE: PROJECT PHASES Project duration Calendar years, 2004 and 2005 Four phases: • Literature reviews and dialogue • Sense-making surveys: online & phone • Focus group interviews • Structured observations
SENSE-MAKINGTHE INFORMATION CONFLUENCE: STUDY POPULATIONS 44 colleges and universities 100 mile radius from Columbus 400 informants -- 100 each: faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and netLibrary users Samples, stratified by Carnegie institutional class codes
SENSE-MAKINGTHE INFORMATION CONFLUENCE: PROJECT DIALOGUES AND LIBRARIAN SURVEYS • Local Advisory Committee • National Advisory Committee • OCLC Members’ Council • OCLC Board of Trustees
SENSE-MAKINGTHE 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
Half-day Forum at OCLC Dublin Campus April 7, 2004
In your judgment, what are the BIG UNANSWERED QUESTIONSabout users of information services?
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 don’t users think of the library first? • Why aren’t they using our services?
If we could get answers to these big unanswered questions about users, HOW WOULD THE ANSWERS HELP in your work?
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
What explains WHY THESE QUESTIONS are not yet answered?
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
What are the biggest challenges the ADVANCE OF ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS presents to library and information services in serving users well?
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…
As you look at these challenges, WHAT UNDERSTANDING OF USERS would help us handle these challenges better?
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
Some people say we know a lot about users, but the understandings aren't available to us in useful ways. WHAT’S YOUR OPINION? If you agree, what would need to be done to make the knowledge about users more useful?
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
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?
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
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?
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
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?
9. How the diversity of understandings about users help • Helps in providing services • Provides depth and perspective • Is frustrating • Different solutions to different problems
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?
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
SENSE-MAKINGTHE INFORMATION CONFLUENCE: ONLINE SURVEY OF LIBRARIANS • OCLC Members Council and Board of Trustees • 126 online surveys distributed • 34 responses = 27% response rate
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
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
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”
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
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 don’t users think of the library first?
SENSE-MAKINGTHE INFORMATION CONFLUENCE: USER PERSPECTIVE Five situations that needed input….. • Troublesome situation in university /college life • Situation involving research or scholarship • Troublesome situation in life outside of university/college context • Situation in university/college with most input from electronic sources • Situation in life outside of university/college life with most input from electronic sources
END NOTES 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. 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: http://imlsosuoclcproject.jcomm.ohio-state.edu/