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Three looks at users: a comparison of methods for studying digital library use. User studies, Digital libraries, Digital music libraries, Music, Information use, Information science, Contextual inquiry, Contextual design, User research, Questionnaires, Log file analysis

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Author(s): Mark Notess

Journal: Information Research: an international electronic journal
ISSN 1368-1613

Volume: 9;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 177;
Date: 2004;
Original page

Keywords: User studies | Digital libraries | Digital music libraries | Music | Information use | Information science | Contextual inquiry | Contextual design | User research | Questionnaires | Log file analysis

ABSTRACT
Compares three user research methods of studying real-world digital library usage within the context of the Variations and Variations2 digital music libraries at Indiana University. After a brief description of both digital libraries, each method is described and illustrated with findings from the studies. User satisfaction questionnaires were used in two studies, one of Variations (n=30) and the other of Variations2 (n=12). Second, session activity log files were examined for 175 Variations2 sessions using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The third method, contextual inquiry, is illustrated with results from field observations of four voice students' information usage patterns. The three methods are compared in terms of expertise required; time required to set up, conduct, and analyse resulting data; and the benefits derived. Further benefits are achieved with a mixed-methods approach, combining the strengths of the methods to answer questions lingering as a result of other methods.
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