Roger Schonfeld is chairing a plenary session on “Researching Researchers: Developing Evidence-Based Strategy for Improved Discovery and Access” at the ALPSP Conference on Wednesday, September 9.

Leading libraries, publishers and vendors regularly study the practices and needs of researchers, including academics and students, in order to serve them better. In this session three leading experts will review some of their organizations’ strategies for improving discovery and access that are emerging from this research. This session will include discussion, not only of today’s array of search behaviors, but beyond towards emerging anticipatory and contextual discovery, and not only discovery, but the very real problem of ensuring that researchers can readily access the materials that should be available to them. Speakers for this session are:

  • Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Professor/Coordinator for Strategic Planning/Coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Instruction, University Library, University of Illinois.  For more than a decade the University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign has worked to prioritize web-based discovery and full-text delivery of digital information. The approach has been relentlessly user-centric. This presentation will draw on analysis of user perspectives and practices gathered through six large-scale user surveys; investigation of user search behavior, search types and use of assistance features through system logs; and, synthesis of themes, values, and priorities as well as testing approaches and problems documented in reports on implementing the WebFeat federated search system (2005-2006), developing and deploying Easy Search, a locally-developed and supported broadcast search, search assistance, recommender, and personalization platform (2006-present) and piloting Primo (2011-2014), as well as current work to implement WorldCat Discovery. Session attendees will hear about the current status of the Library’s discovery and delivery strategy but also the future to which the user-centric approach directs attention and actions.
  • Lettie Y. Conrad, Executive Manager, Online Products, SAGE.  Libraries and publishers alike are paying increasing attention to the information experiences of their patrons and readers. And we are learning that today’s scholars navigate a tangled web of databases, search engines and applications throughout their academic endeavors. The fact is: We’re not offering singular destinations for academic information needs – instead, we are all outposts along the scholarly journey. Applying best practices of user experience (UX) techniques in traditional software development, SAGE aims to understand the diverse landscape of researchers experiences (RX) in order to open up multiple avenues into our resources. We’ve learned that for some scholars, it’s a matter of preference – “Google is familiar territory.” And others come to prefer a leading subject database in their field of study – “with PubMed, everything I need is archived…it’s the thing to use.” In her talk, Lettie will share highlights from SAGE’s latest RX studies and resulting publishing strategies.
  • Deirdre Costello, Senior User Experience Researcher, EBSCO Information Services. Search results have evolved from a portal to a destination unto themselves. Users are porting expectations from Google, Amazon and other open web searches to their library experience, including the expectation that they may learn just as much from the search results list as from the resources listed there. Images, snippets and bolded search terms all serve important roles in making search results a learning opportunity for users. EBSCO’s user research team has been conducting ethnographic research on how users interpret search results on both the open web and library resources. Senior UX Researcher Deirdre Costello will talk about how user expectations are formed on the open web, what users look for to make decisions about library resources, and why we all need to think about our search results as one of the most important user experiences we can craft for our users.