The paper seeks to evaluate the effect of web searching on online public access catalogue (OPAC) users in the university libraries in India. It is a comparative study of the three universities in the Union Territory of Chandigarh and Punjab State.
The study adopted a questionnaire‐based survey. A structured questionnaire was administered to 500 users comprising faculty, research scholars, and postgraduate students of selected university libraries to collect data regarding the influence of web search engines on OPAC users.
The study showed that a majority of the users in all three universities made use of the web‐based resources. Ready access to information through search engines considerably increased the expectations of library users while searching OPAC. Web searching influenced their OPAC searching process greatly, as the majority of searches were performed on OPAC‐like popular search engines. Simultaneously, users did not know the difference between inner‐workings of OPAC and common search engines such as Google.
The paper provides useful information about how search engines influence OPAC users in India. The study recommends that OPACs need to include the modern features of present search engines to improve their practices. University libraries should communicate user expectations to OPAC designers. Further, the library community should collaborate with OPAC designers to develop a user‐friendly OPAC system, keeping in view the needs of the users of the internet age.
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