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Undergraduate students use of mobile apps to search library catalogs

Shih-chuan Chen (Department of Library and Information Science, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taipei, Taiwan)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 1 October 2019

Issue publication date: 25 October 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore undergraduate students’ use of mobile apps to search library catalogs and analyze the problems students encountered. Student opinions and suggestions regarding mobile library apps were also examined.


A total of 16 undergraduates were observed and subjected to semi-structured interviews. Four tasks were assigned, and the participants used mobile apps and laptops to search library catalogs. Follow-up in-depth interviews were conducted to gather participants’ opinions regarding the mobile library app.


Among the 64 total searches conducted by the 16 participants, 45 (70.31 percent) were completed when using the mobile app, and 51 (79.69 percent) were completed using the laptop. Participants spent less time completing the tasks when they used the mobile app. Mobile apps are thus an effective tool for searching library catalogs. However, the interviews revealed that none of the participants had used mobile library apps prior to the interviews conducted in this study, and half of the participants expressed that they would not install library apps on their smartphones in the future.


The study findings may help university libraries improve their understanding about undergraduates’ search behavior and opinions about mobile library apps.



This study was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (106-2410-H-030 -028-).


Chen, S.-c. (2019), "Undergraduate students use of mobile apps to search library catalogs", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 37 No. 4, pp. 721-734.



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