How Do Users Search and Discover?

Findings from Ex Libris User Research.  May 2015

 Users come to the library for a variety of reasons. For example, they may be seeking a specific item, be it a book, an article, an audio recording, or another type of material; they may need information for an undergraduate course assignment or a research project; perhaps they would like to obtain a quick overview of a specific topic; or they may want to find the latest publications in a specific field. Such research needs are often interconnected. A user might look up a specific article and then go on to seek an overview of the topic covered in the article.

This paper describes the findings and conclusions from a recent Ex Libris user study and discusses how the conclusions apply to library discovery systems. The study included analyses of users’ search logs and qualitative surveys conducted via workshops with librarians and interviews of users at different academic levels and from various countries and disciplines.