Transportation librarians name the Transportation Information Research Services (TRIS) database as a critical resource to meet research needs of the US transportation community. This paper seeks to question the claim with evidence from a small‐scale pilot study seeking to answer the question, “How is TRIS Online meeting the needs of transportation professionals?” The paper also aims to offer an outline of the information‐seeking behaviours of transportationists who participated in the pilot study.
Using a mixed‐methods pilot study, researchers present observed information‐seeking behaviours of transportation professionals, compared with formal studies about the user group and the consensus of library and information professionals who serve the community.
Questions remain about the efficacy of TRIS serving its target audience. The results demonstrate that search results received mixed reviews from users and they favoured keyword searching to the near total exclusion of the sophisticated information retrieval features that librarians/information professionals maintain.
The study focuses on a specific, one‐time interaction between a small pool of professionals and an online database. The results are highly valuable but should not be generalized to describe the information‐seeking behaviour of all transportation professionals.
The researchers recommend that all elements of this pilot study remain, should the project be reproduced on a larger scale; it provides a feasible framework and yields data necessary for extensive analysis.
Baldwin notes, “Although there is a general assumption that a large portion of transportation‐related materials are available on the internet, few, if any, studies have been done on the topic. For most of the transportation community TRIS Online is seen as the most important single means of identifying transportation‐related information resources”.
Ostrander, M. and Kleppe, S. (2010), "Librarians and transportationists: views and usage of US transportation database", New Library World, Vol. 111 No. 1/2, pp. 55-61. https://doi.org/10.1108/03074801011015694Download as .RIS
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