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Library and Information Science Paper (ID LIS064177)

An Experimental Study of the Information Search Process at a College Library
No.64, p.177-192
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Purpose: This study empirically analyzes how users access information resources and evaluate and use information, in the information environment of a college library where physical information resources and digital information resources are mixed. In searching such resources, it is important to clarify the conditions that affect the search performance. We focus on whether clarifying the conditions before searching influences the search behavior or not.

Methods: We conducted a search experiment with 44 college students and empirically examined their processes of searching electronic and physical information resources within the library. In this experiment, the subjects were divided into two groups: one was assigned the task of investigating“keywords”and“information resources” s search conditions before searching, and the other was not. We examined the following two aspects: 1)behavioral characteristics and patterns of using information resources, and 2)differences in behavior between the two groups. To facilitate the analysis, we compared the results with those of past studies on information searching behavior.

Results: A comparison of the behavior between the two groups revealed that clarifying“keywords”beforehand affects the searching behavior. The group assigned the task of investigating keywords executed searches using more keywords and accessed more web pages in the same amount of time, compared with the group not assigned the task. As for the behavior of using information resources, a bias toward using either digital information resources or physical information resources was observed, and some regular patterns in behavior of changing the search target were found.

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