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Usability and impact of digital libraries: a review

Chowdhury, S. and Landoni, M. and Gibb, F. (2006) Usability and impact of digital libraries: a review. Online Information Review, 30 (6). pp. 656-680. ISSN 1468-4527

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Abstract

Purpose - The main objective of this paper is to review work on the usability and impact of digital libraries. Design/methodology/approach - Work on the usability and impact of digital libraries is reviewed. Specific studies on the usability and impact of digital libraries in specific domains are also discussed in order to identify general and specific usability and impact measures. Findings - The usability studies reviewed in this paper show that a number of approaches have been used to assess usability. In addition to the technical aspects of digital library design (e.g. architecture, interfaces and search tools), there are a number of usability issues such as globalisation, localisation, language, culture issues, content and human information behaviour. Digital libraries should, however, be evaluated primarily with respect to their target users, applications and contexts. Research limitations/implications - Although a digital library evaluation study may have several objectives, ranging from the evaluation of its design and architecture to the evaluation of its usability and its impact on the target users, this paper focuses on usability and impact. Originality/value - This paper provides insights into the state-of-the art in relation to the usability and impact of digital libraries.