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Evaluating the quality of library portals

Joint, Nicholas (2005) Evaluating the quality of library portals. Library Review, 54 (6). pp. 337-341. ISSN 0024-2535

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Abstract

To investigate ways of demonstrating how portal implementations positively alter user information retrieval behaviour. Design/methodology/approach - An opinion piece reflecting on existing evidence about the nature of portal implementations, which extrapolates trends in user behaviour on the basis of these reflections. Findings - Although portal technologies probably do offer a way for libraries to create information tools that can compete with "one-stop shop" Internet search engines, there are likely difficulties in their pattern of usage which will have to be detected by effective quality measurement techniques. Research limitations/implications - An expression of opinion about the possible pitfalls of using portals to optimise users' information retrieval activity. Practical implications - This opinion piece gives some clear and practical guidelines for the evaluation of the success of library portal implementations. Originality/value - This editorial points out that, because the portal can be defined as a deliberate clone of a typical successful Internet search engine and may be presented to the naïve user in the same terms, the danger is that library portals might also clone the same information habits as Internet search engines, because of their ease of use. In trying to produce a tool that can meet Google on its own terms but with better content, we might reproduce some of the same educational disbenefits as Google: quality information retrieval is not purely a function of content, it is also a function of the user's perceptions and information habits.