Digital libraries: to meet or manage user expectations

David Bawden (Department of Information Science, City University, London, UK)
Polona Vilar (Department of Library and Information Science and Book Studies, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Publication date: 1 July 2006



The purpose of this paper is to review the nature of, and rationale for, user expectations in the digital library setting, and ways in which they may best be met and/or managed.


An analysis of the literature, focusing on empirical studies, and bringing out main themes and issues.


User expectations of digital libraries are often unrealistic, usually unrealistically high, mainly due to the ubiquity of the web search engine as an information environment. Expectations differ between user groups. Both meeting and managing expectations have been promoted as a solution; it is likely that a mix of the two will be most effective. More empirical and conceptual studies are needed. Ways of making the nature of digital library collections and their organisation “visible”, embedded in a natural way within their interfaces, are desirable.


This is the first paper to review the literature of this topic.



Bawden, D. and Vilar, P. (2006), "Digital libraries: to meet or manage user expectations", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 58 No. 4, pp. 346-354.

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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