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The use of LUBsearch

A study in the use and usability of a search system
During the spring semester 2014, an investigation of LUBsearch, the library network’s shared information system, was carried out.

The aim of the investigation was to collect data from actual users to study the use and usability of LUBsearch. We wanted to find out how different groups of users use the system (e.g. students and researchers) and also to study the system from a usability perspective.

The aim was to produce a result which could form the basis for developing the system, focusing mainly on aspects which we can affect locally.

A further aim was to build up long-term knowledge of our users and our systems.

Methods

We chose two complementary methods for this investigation: an observational study and a survey. Both methods provide a picture of use, but the observational study is directed at usability issues while the survey provides a more representative picture of the actual use of the system. Furthermore, we produced system-generated statistics on the extent of the actual use of the system in order to gain additional knowledge of our users.

In order to render the distribution of our users among the various faculties within Lund University, we made a stratified selection of respondents to the survey. We also recruited focus groups from various faculties and various academic levels, from undergraduate students to researchers.

Results

  • LUBsearch is used by both students and researchers and should therefore be seen as a search tool intended for both these groups.
  • We identified a number of usability problems such as vague terminology and unsatisfactory design and placement of links.
  • The users are relatively satisfied with their search results and consider that search results from LUBsearch offer a sufficient return for the effort required.
  • Access to full text is crucial for users, and even if the respondents considered that their basic needs were somewhat satisfied, we need to strive to improve and simplify linking to full text.
  • Structured tuition for users has a positive effect on both the level of use and the level of satisfaction.

The results will form the basis for further development and improvement of LUBsearch, in which we focus on improved linking to full text, a better interface and the development of help texts and other information material.

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Contact

Questions about the project? Please, contact jonas.fransson [at] ub.lu.se (Jonas Fransson) or maria.ohlsson [at] ub.lu.se (Maria Ohlsson) at the University Library.