Executive Summary

Problems

Principles

Organizational Models

Work of the Committee

UCB Library's Public Electronic Access Systems -- Problems


A single interface doesn't serve all levels of users

  • We serve scholars who are experts in their fields, librarians and information professionals, and novice users who know nothing about library research. One interface doesn't work for all of them.
  • Novices need help; systems don't have computer-assisted help.
  • Some users want to see many resources on a given topic.
  • Some users only want books, while others want articles, databases, etc.
  • Some users want a quick find of a known item.
  • Pathfinder is complicated by options only used by an expert user; what about a novice interface?

Users confuse web and library resources

  • Users think that Google and other general search engines give them everything.
  • Users don't understand the "deep web" and may stop looking too soon.
  • Users don't understand that catalogs are lists of items they may have to go get.
  • Users think that anything they search on the Berkeley web resides on campus.
  • Isn't it all on the web? Why do I have to look in a catalog?

Our interfaces aren't based on user-centered designs

  • There is too much library jargon.
  • Don't make users browse long drop-down lists of links.
  • Don't make users hit "go".
  • Library website is organized to mimic our organizational structure; however, most users want subject information.
  • Information about library services, administrative policies, staff names and email addresses is hard to find (see NCSU for good site org.)
  • Descriptive comments on Library web home page under subhead "Library Collections" are inaccurate.
  • Library web home page is inconsistent when labeling links some describe actions, while others just give the noun.
  • If I find a page on the Library Web using search, then want to go "up" to the "mother" page I can't. Truncating back to the next level of system directory may not help. Can we have "return to" buttons on each page returning to the next higher level of content?
  • Users have to "learn" the system before they can use the system. (Do most people come to the Library web seeking books and articles? If so, this Search box should be prominent on the home page.)
  • Too difficult to save results of searches and email them to an account.
  • CDL web homepage has too little information.

Search process needs to be improved

  • Users often don't know where to start (why use one resource as opposed to another).
  • Users often search the wrong term/words and then what?
  • Can't easily do cross-database searching using a single (set of) keyword(s), e.g., "tell me everything every available resource has about Foreign Broadcast Info Online."
  • Users may want to know results regardless of item format or may want only a particular format.

Search results need to be improved

  • How do you find the best/most appropriate resource for a given need? After doing an initial search in a given resource, how do you decide whether to go to another one, and how to find the next most logical one.
  • Even if a user can find something once, doesn't mean he/she can find it again.
  • Can't identify the best resources out of all the hits.
  • Not clear what part of the universe any particular tool gives you (e.g., Pathfinder does NOT give all databases, but how would you know this?)
  • Would categorizing into subject directories help?
  • Users get too few or too many hits on a search, and then don't know what to do.
  • Want to know availability of found material without an additional step.
  • Searchlight reports all sources searched even if results are zero. How many people care?

Not enough or not the right kind of help

  • Library staff knows about some good features in some databases - can these migrate into a PEAS?
  • How do I contact a person for help?
  • Computer-assisted "reference interview".
  • Information on remote access isn't prominent and user-friendly enough.

Copyright © 2000-2001 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.
Document maintained by: Gail Ford
Last update 3/22/01. Server manager: contact.