Join Library Journal and ProQuest for a free webinar
“I am on Google on my smartphone all the time.”
“Librarians are better for after you’ve done the initial [Google] search and then need to dive in.”
“Librarians are trained toward books and the traditional library, not newer technology like we use.”
At face value, these student views toward library research seem to reinforce the common wisdom that students always choose Google over library resources.
The good news: While Google remains a starting place for research, it is being used for complementary research tasks and doesn’t remove the need for library databases in most students’ research processes.
This is just one example of the insights about how students use library resources gleaned from the findings from multiple user studies and sources, which include contextual research, usability testing, surveys, and web analytics.
Drawing on their years of experiences studying users and designing user experiences at ProQuest, Serena Rosenhan and Chris Farnum will speak about “What College Students Have Taught Us: Insights into the User Journey,” in a free webinar on Wednesday, Apr. 13.
This webinar covers findings that they hope will be especially relevant to libraries focused on supporting education.
Among the themes the webinar will cover:
The instant-access generation
Traditional university/college students – those who enter right out of high school or shortly after – differ from generations past in one crucial way: they grew up with technology and are accustomed to instant answers … immediate gratification, whether gaming, socializing or researching.
Just as significant, many students hesitate to ask a librarian for research help, preferring the advice of instructors or classmates instead.
Further, because a mobile device is “part of the uniform” of today’s college students, a library that’s mobile-optimized – and ready to promote itself as such – can better position itself as the first stop for research.
What influences researchers choice of research tools?
In a word: instructors. For example, in a survey of social science undergraduates, Rosenhan and Farnum asked students how they became aware of ProQuest research databases. They found that instructors directed the students to ProQuest 31 percent of the time, while the library’s own website influenced and informed students 28 percent of the time. This correlates with findings from contextual research interviews and focus groups conducted with undergraduates. Clearly, this points to a need to involve instructors in library research decisions and promotion.
Overcoming the roadblocks to research success
Often researchers demand full-text content, and all too frequently they find barriers that frustrate and confuse them:
- An overwhelming, overcrowded library website may delay students in finding the resources they need.
- Paywalls and log-ins make some content appear inaccessible.
- The students may simply not be aware that resources exist for them.
The answer? Premium library databases and linking solutions, which are easy to use and deliver reliable full-text content to improve the user experience.
The evolution of library researchers
Students using online library resources don’t all seek information in the same way. Their differences affect the way they use what’s available. What’s more, the number of years in college has less to do with researcher behavior than course type and context, instructor influence, specific research task, and research focus.
Rosenhan and Farnum have developed a set of researcher profiles that help put these differences in context: “Gen-Req”-ers, Domain Learners, Apprentices and Scholars. These profiles highlight how research habits and needs evolve as learners progress through the academic journey.
The opportunity, and challenge, for libraries is to position their valuable resources and services at the point of need, and create successes that boost confidence and help students evolve their research strategies as their needs change.
Go deeper into the student experience
Join Serena Rosenhan and Chris Farnum for a more in-depth look at the student user experience, and have your questions answered live.
Free webinar: “What College Students Have Taught Us”
- Wednesday, Apr. 13- 3 p.m. ET/noon PT