Is your encyclopedia self-serve?

Paul Keith, electronic resources librarian at Chicago Public Libary, posed this question at the Reference Services Forum Luncheon.

Research shows 60% of people prefer self service options. But how user friendly and self serve are our databases? Using a search example, Keith demonstrated how customers use longer search strings than those librarians use, which don’t result in precise results in our databases. And to a customer, if it doesn’t work like Amazon or Google it doesn’t work for them.

But, all it takes to change this is FIVE people. Using real library customers, conduct usability tests of all new databases you’re considering purchasing, as well as existing databases. Then talk to your vendor about you find and encourage them to improve the user seach experience.

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