The Inexact Science of Informing Ourselves
InSITE 2002 • Volume 2 • 2002
Advances in information technology provide opportunities to inform users in ways that were only imagined twenty years ago. However, information providers need to inform themselves concerning the best way to deliver resources tc these users. Often assumptions are made about users that are inaccurate and untrue. With a view to these shortcomings, a team came together to collect information from users to assist in the redevelopment of a departmental library homepage at a major U.S. university. Methods used by social science researchers and by businesses to ascertain customer preferences were employed to increase understanding of the needs and desires of library users. Applying the tools of qualitative research improved understanding of the inexact science one must practice in dealing with diverse groups. This paper is a report of the findings, some surprising, some expected, but all relevant to the shape "Informing Science" takes in one library.
Libraries, Focus Groups, Usability, Web page design, User-centered design
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