A 1967-70 study in the Main Library at Yale University, involving 2,100 interviews at the card catalog during a 1-year period, showed thatweekly charting of card catalog use and book circulation revealed by inspection that card catalog use and book borrowing always remained in the same proportion.               (Source)

        Ibid…. showed thatuse of the card catalog during the academic year was as follows: Yale freshmen (8.3% of catalog use), other Yale undergraduates (27.7%), graduate/postgraduate students (35.6%), Yale faculty (7.3%), Yale staff (2.9%), and other (18.1%).             (Source)

A survey reported in 1970 at the University of Michigan based on random interviews of catalog users in the General Library, Undergraduate Library, and Medical Library (2,167 users interviewed; 1,489 usable interviews, i.e, users searching for a particular item) showed that, of the known-item searches, 67.9% of the respondents entered the catalog with an author’s or editor’s name, 26.2% entered with a title, and 5.9% with a subject heading.                     (Source)

A 1979 study at the University of Illinois, Urbana, involving patron use of an online circulation system for known-item searching (interviews with 240 faculty, staff, student, and visiting patrons conducting 310 searches), showed thatthe length of 156 successful known-item searches was as follows:

                0.2 minutes or less                            16 (10%) searches

                1.0 minutes or less                            82 (53%) searches

                2.0 minutes or less                          117 (75%) searches

                3.7 minutes or less                          139 (89%) searches

                7.5 minutes or less                          156 (100%) searches                (Source)

A 1980 study of patron use of the serial card catalog at the University of Illinois, Urbana (sample size: 452 patrons; usable responses: 445 patrons), involving faculty, students, and staff, showed that94% of the materials sought were English-language materials, with 27 (6%) in other languages.                  (Source)

        Ibid…. showed thatthe top 2 sources of 192 serial citations which patrons obtained through use of an index, abstract, or bibliography were Readers’ Guide (accounting for 54 or 28% of the citations) and Business Periodicals Index (accounting for 17 or 9% of the citations).                (Source)

        Ibid…. showed that366 (83%) of the searches undertaken by patrons in the serial card catalog were successful, i.e., a citation was matched to a catalog entry. Further, the success rate of the frequent catalog user (daily or once/twice per week) was not statistically significantly better than the success rate of the infrequent catalog user. Specifically, 167 (46%) of the frequent catalog users and 199 (54%) of the infrequent catalog users were successful in their searches.                (Source)

        Ibid…. showed thatof 427 searches there was no statistically significant difference in success rates between patrons who wrote their citations down (or Xeroxed them) and those who did not. For example, 246 (70%) of the patrons who found their citations in the card catalog had written them down compared to 52 (69%) of the patrons who did not find their citations in the card catalog but who had written them down. Conversely, 93 (26%) of the patrons found their citations in the card catalog without writing them down compared to 20 (27%) of the patrons who did not find their citations in the card catalog but also did not write the citation down.                         (Source)

A 1982 online survey of MELVYL patrons from all 9 UC campuses conducted over a 2-month period for each 25th user of the system (1,259 questionnaires collected; 72.2 questionnaires complete and usable) showed thatthe average length of time a patron spent at the terminal was 8 minutes 41 seconds, while the average number of commands issued during a session was 22.297.                 (Source)

        Ibid…. showed thatthe patrons conducted an average of 5.66 searches per session.                (Source)

        Ibid…. showed thatthe help facilities were used in 14.28% of the sessions, with those patrons who did use the help facilities averaging 1.59 unqualified help requests and 2.63 help requests with a specific glossary term. Only 2.6% of the patrons made the same error 3 times in a row.              (Source)

        Ibid…. showed that75.22% of the patrons made no errors at all during their sessions (this included command syntax errors, logical errors, and unrecognizable commands). The remaining 24.77% of the patrons made an average of 2.85 errors during their sessions.               (Source)

        Ibid…. showed thatrespondents’ university affiliations were:

                freshman/sophmore                          23.2% respondents

                junior/senior                                     39.0% respondents

                graduate—master’s level                    6.4% respondents

                graduate—doctoral level                    7.6% respondents

                graduate—professional school            1.9% respondents

                faculty                                                3.2% respondents

                staff                                                   2.6% respondents

                other                                                16.1% respondents               (Source)

        Ibid…. showed thatrespondents’ academic areas were:

                art/humanities                                   24.2% respondents

                physical/biological sciences               22.7% respondents

                social sciences                                  19.3% respondents

                engineering                                       14.1% respondents

                medical and health sciences                5.8% respondents

                business management                         4.7% respondents

                major undeclared                               4.0% respondents

                law                                                    2.9% respondents

                education                                          2.0% respondents

                interdisciplinary                                  0.2% respondents                (Source)


A 1980 survey of card catalog and information desk patrons in the Pikes Peak Library District Library over a 2-week period (sample size: 97; responding: 91) showed that85.4% reported a preference for online catalog searching over the traditional manual approach to the card catalog. The main reason given for preferring the online catalog was its ease of use and the speed with which searches could be conducted.                        (Source)


Dr. David Kohl

 "Libraries in the digital age are experiencing the most profound transformation since ancient Mesopotamian scribes first began gathering and organizing cuneiform tablets."

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