This fall we changed the default tool that students and faculty use to research library holdings. We have tools that work well for a broad search and tools that are tailored for more specialized research. So, how is this change working out?
We’ve got numbers and we’ve got opinion. First, let’s look at the numbers.
- The most used feature on the Duke Libraries website is the search box on the homepage with 211,655 searches performed using the default “All” tab between August 25 and November 16, 2014.
- Within the “All” tab search results, patrons selected results from Articles 48% of the time, results from Books & Media 44% of the time and other results 8% of the time. These results were presented side-by-side on a single results page.
- The All search isn’t the only option on our homepage as the Books & Media tab was used 68,566 times and the Articles tab was used 46,028 times during the same timeframe.
- The five most used search terms were PubMed, Web of Science, JSTOR, RefWorks, and Dictionary of National Biography.
- The most frequently searched for fictional character was Tom Sawyer.
- The most searched for person was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
So what thoughts have you shared with us about the search options we provide?
- During the first four weeks of the semester, 48 people submitted their opinions through a survey linked from the search results page.
- Thirty percent of survey respondents said that they liked having the Articles and Books & Media results appear side by side on the new search results page.
- Twenty-seven percent said they thought the page looked cluttered or that it was hard to read.
- Forty percent said that they did not know you can change the default search tab that appears when you view the Duke Libraries’ homepage.
- Twenty-five percent said that they did not know that they can choose a more highly-focused search option from the Search & Find menu.
- Testing with a small group of researchers revealed that it was difficult to locate material from the Rubenstein Library using our default search results screen.
Based on your feedback, we made the following improvements to the search results page during the semester.
- We de-cluttered the information shown in the Articles and Books & Media columns to make results easier to read.
- We moved “Our Website” results to the top of the right column.
- We reduced the space used by the search box on the results page.
In the coming months, we will explore ways of making it easier to find materials from the Rubenstein Library and from University Archives. We are also investigating options for implementing a Best Bets feature on the results page; this would provide clearer access to some of the most used resources.
What can you do to help?
Complete our online survey and tell us what you think about the search tools provided through the Libraries’ homepage.