Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, April 25, 2008

The difficulty of studying IR users

Dawn Schmitz, The Seamless Cyberinfrastructure:  The Challenges of Studying Users of Mass Digitization and Institutional Repositories, Council on Library and Information Resources, April 2008.  Excerpt:

...While research has provided insight into the practices and behaviors of potential and actual depositors of content into IRs, little is known about the users of IRs and mass digitization....

As the cyberinfrastructure becomes more complex, new ways of learning about its use must be developed. This may not be easy. As Covey (2002) notes, “The methods for assessing new resource delivery evolve at a slower rate than do the resources themselves.” Yet it is worth the effort to take up the challenge of devising these new methods. Greater attention to understanding the user experience will benefit academic libraries attempting to manage IRs and massdigitization projects and will make them sustainable. If they are to produce more value for all their stakeholders, libraries must understand precisely how largescale, resource-intensive cyberinfrastructure initiatives further institutional missions and user-service goals.

From the summary of the report in the March/April CLIR Issues, Who Uses Institutional Repositories and Mass-Digitized Collections?

...While acknowledging that mass digitization and IRs are two distinct types of initiatives, the author argues that their differences are less important to the user than they are to the librarian....