Ann P. Bishop
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
501 E. Daniel St.
Champaign, IL 61820
(217) 244-3302 fax
The papers presented here represent discussion documents
submitted by participants in the 1995 Allerton Institute, called "How We
Do User-Centered Design and Evaluation of Digital Libraries: A
Methodological Forum." The Institute, sponsored by the National Science
Foundation, was conducted on October 29-31 by the Graduate School of
Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois. The idea
for the Institute arose from a joint meeting of investigators associated
with the six NSF/ARPA/NASA Digital Library Initiative projects currently
underway in universities across the country (Bishop, 1995). As
chairperson of the Institute, my goal was to bring together an
international, interdisciplinary group of researchers and practitioners
involved in the design and study of information systems, in user-centered
research in traditional libraries, and in a wide range of digital library
projects. The purpose of the Institute was to present both the range of
user-centered methods available for studying digital libraries and
rationales for choosing amongst them; we also wanted to look ahead to
new methods and developments and map out the challenges ahead of us.
Institute presentations and discussions were devoted to issues
- What are appropriate measures for gauging digital library outcomes at
the individual, group, institutional, and global levels?
- How can we best incorporate knowledge of user needs and behavior in
designing digital library interactions and interfaces?
- What do we need to know about how people use electronic texts and how
can we gain this knowledge and apply it to the development of digital
- What can we learn from studies of traditional library use?
- How can we develop an understanding of the computerization of library
work that will help as digital systems are incorporated into current
- How can we deal with the ethical, practical, and conceptual issues that
arise in the remote observation of online (and offline) behavior on a
very large scale?
- How do we foster effective communication among digital library
designers, users, and social science researchers?
Participants submitted a brief, informal discussion document outlining
their work and the issues they were most anxious to explore. A selection
is included here; for the complete set of material associated with the
Institute, visit the Allerton web site
(http://edfu.lis.uiuc.edu/allerton/95). The discussion documents were
used to develop the five major Institute sessions, which focused on
co-design approaches, work practice and institutional change, migrating
foundational approaches to virtual library environment, electronic
information-seeking behavior, and understanding diversity and change. I
hope the ideas arising from the Allerton Institute will help in building
a framework for understanding the use and implications of digital
information infrastructure, as our research methods, systems, and
expectations of systems continually evolve. Due to the success of the
meeting, participants plan to reconvene at a follow-up Allerton Institute
in fall 1996.
Bishop, A. P. (1995, Oct.). Working towards an understanding of digital
library use: A report on the user research efforts of the NSF/ARPA/NASA
DLI Projects. D-Lib Magazine. (Available: http://www.dlib.org/)