Beyond the Search Box

Stefanie Buck, Jane Nichols


New unified discovery tools are designed to help students easily identify and retrieve library content. Students want quick and easy discovery of quality sources in a “Google-like” environment. Librarians have often expressed frustration with federated and metasearch systems that cannot take full advantage of discipline specific database features. As new options, such as discovery systems, become available, it remains to be seen if librarians have the same concerns about these new tools. What librarians want in these systems is less well explored than our users. At a local conference, the authors used a participatory design strategy to elicit from the participating librarians their views on what a discovery system should look like and function. Groups of participants drew their idea of what a discovery system should look like. An analysis of the findings reveals what librarians think are important features for these tools. The authors also discuss the use of the participatory design process.

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