User-Evaluation Librarian?

I finished reading a study this week titled “Information Behavior of the Reasearcher of the Future.”  It was put out early this year and some of the findings were fascinating.  It once again reminded me of all the barriers that our users face as opposed to getting information from the free web.  These are things like waiting for an interlibrary loan, confusing search interfaces, poorly presented search results, etc.

I see this in my work as well. Yesterday I was helping a student who had found two e-books but she was having problems accessing them.  I was surprised that the student continued trying to access them.  I am sure that many just give it up and go to Google.  Speed seems to be the most important criteria for information these days.

One quote, though, really stood out as interesting and something that I had never thought of.

No private sector corporation would survive on the basis of failing to invest in consumer profiling, market research and loyalty programmes. No library we are aware of has a department devoted to the evaluation of the user, how can that be?

This seems like a very innovative idea.  Innovation can often be just taking something that is commonplace in one arena and applying it in another.  Why aren’t there any user-evaluation librarians?  Or why aren’t there more consultants that evaluate library user groups and make reccomendations for action?

I strongly urge librarians who are charged with the task of education to read this study.  Students are finding information faster, but they are questioning it less and not thinking in depth about it.

Andy Burkhardt

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