Volume 56, Issue 1 of Current Cites came out just before Christmas (subscribe here). It had two articles that I found particularly interesting; the first an article by Keith Webster of the University of Queensland, discussing the conversion of the academic library from a storehouse for books to a working and learning space for students. It’s not totally easy reading for those of us who believe that
punk print’s not dead, but it’s probably right in its conclusions that libraries need more workspace, and the only way to get that space is to remove little-used print collections.
There’s also a link to an interesting research article by Jakob Neilsen: “[who] conducted research with 43 students across the globe to study how they interact with websites, including university sites. They were given specific tasks to do on each site, and were also given some open-ended searching opportunities. The results busted three myths of student Internet use: (1) Students are technology wizards; (2) Students crave multi-media and fancy design; and (3) Students are enraptured by social networking. The students
often preferred simple design, and repeated comments that have been heard again and again in website usability studies (e.g. website text should be easy to scan).”
The third point relates to finding corporate/official information – students looked to official organisational websites for this information, not to the organisation’s Facebook page – social networking was for fun and for interacting with friends (and was, of course, widely used for these purposes), not for serious information. Definitely some implications there for those of us designing online services for students.
[The first summary is my wording of Keith Webster’s points; the second is quoting directly from Roy Tennant in the Current Cites email]