Sense-Making Research from OCLC

Lynn Silipigni Connaway just finished presenting OCLC’s research project called Sense-Making the Information Confluence. But the session was actually titled “Satisfying the Information Needs of the College and University User: preliminary Results of a Two-Year, Multidisciplinary User Investigation.” The survey research, I would say, didn’t create much new knowledge. Faculty and students both, in most situations, turn first to Internet search engines and then to electronic databases for their electronic information. Only when it comes a situation regarding life outside their colleges and universities do students mention chat rooms and discussion lists (aka listservs). Faculty don’t. The fact that this is the only time chat rooms and listservs come up in the top 3 choices suggests that even students aren’t necessarily Digital Natives. Common themes of librarians were that users don’t think of the library first, but they do use library services, and that there’s too much information, too many choices. Librarians feel they’re competing with Google and Amazon. Lynn concluded that librarians should do more marketing and branding.

A question from the audience pointed up some weaknesses in the survey. It’s not international — everyone surveyed is in Ohio — and it doesn’t break down results by discipline. Yet we know that academic disciplines research patterns are quite different. A chemist, an engineer, an economist, and a musician simply don’t approach the research process similarly.

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

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