My notes from the Charleston Conference:
Two speakers mentioned The World is Flat as a must-read. It’s checked out right now, so I’ll have to tell you later if it’s any good!
I attended two sessions where ProQuest presented the results of their research into student research behavior. In a plenary session, Jane Burke suggested that The Answer for easy library research is a single search box that is combines all formats, such as multisearch and the catalog. While I will definitely advocate for such a box as the default option when we redesign our website, I still think we’ll need tabs for cases when users know they have a format condition. In the 2nd session on this topic, John Law discussed the research further. He did not provide The Answer for building a perfect database discovery utility. Indeed, he indicated that there is no easy way to provide both the quick access that a multisearch format provides AND perfectly categorized information for users who know they have a specific need.
Some marketing info that I gleaned from Mr. Law’s session:
- 95% of the students they studied at least attempted to use the library while doing their research.
- Many students have some brand awareness (e.g. JSTOR, LexisNexis), but they don’t always understand correctly what each brand provides.
- The vast majority of students put the library ahead of Google on quality, but behind Google in ease of use.
- General library messages (e.g. “come here for high quality information”) had more impact than BI classes that emphasize search techniques.
- Links in courseware (Blackboard) might have a high impact since students generally start their research there. (They have to confirm the details of the assignment, if nothing else.)
I have asked Mr. Law for his complete report. Once I get it, I’ll share with Marketing, Team Info, and the Web group.
The second part of the same presentation was by Susan Gibbons from the University of Rochester. I will repeat Lynn’s recommendation to download their book. One immediate takeaway for me was reaching out to parents. Most freshmen contact their parents at some point during the research process. We already do some parent outreach during the annual Campus Info Day, but we should brainstorm ways to do more. Another idea was plasma screens in the coffee shop for people to view while they wait for their lattes. We could probably re-purpose askzakfacts and the Events calendar for this pretty easily.
Here’s my photo contribution. Thankfully my culinary experiences weren’t as exciting as Lynn’s! However I did notice that — from behind — John C. Calhoun looks like a sketchy character. Is he selling watches or what?