University Libraries Publications

Title

Seek and You Shall Find? An Observational Study of Music Students' Library Catalog Search Behavior

Publication Title

Journal of Academic Librarianship

Publication Date

1-2018

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1016/j.acalib.2017.10.001

Keywords

Music libraries, Catalog usability, User behavior, Information seeking behavior, Library science research, Music scores

Disciplines

Information Literacy | Library and Information Science | Music Education

Abstract

This observational study examined the strategies that music students used to locate scores and media items in an academic library's online public access catalog (OPAC). During a usability test, investigators tracked students' search strategies and behaviors, and measured their success in identifying appropriate items. Students experienced briefer, less complicated, and more successful queries for media items than for music scores (the latter of which they struggled to find and properly identify). Class standing, library catalog experience, and prior library instruction had no significant effect on positive outcomes. Searches for music scores were highly sensitive to variations in query wording, and students frequently struggled to revise their searches.

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