User Perceptions of a Federated Search System
This poster presents a study of professional and novice searchers of MetaLib, a federated search system implemented in the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC) to facilitate searching across domains and databases. The study was designed to 1) understand users' perceptions of MetaLib, 2) compare the perceptions of professional searchers and novice searchers, 3) identify areas of confusion, and 4) explore their implications for federated search literacy programs and for system design. To obtain data on users' experience, usage, and opinion of the system, we used a survey instrument. To probe users' perception of how MetaLib executed federated searches, we embedded in the survey a search simulation. In the simulation we showed users screen shots of federated searches and asked them to prepare a narrative of their understanding of MetaLib and illustrate it with a drawing.
A total of 19 professional reference librarians from WRLC libraries and 22 students from the School of Library and Information Science of the Catholic University of America completed the survey. An expert from the WRLC system provided a complete description and a drawing of MetaLib's operations. Data from librarians, students and the MetaLib expert were compared. In Phase One, quantitative data were tabulated and responses to open-ended questions were content analyzed. In Phase Two, narratives and drawings of Metalib operations will be examined for components and relationships. The poster highlights findings from Phase One and presents strategies for improving literacy in federated search and recommendations for system design.
© Copyright 2007 Ingrid Hsieh-Yee, Rong Tang, and Shanyun Zhang