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An investigation into the perceptions of academic librarians and students towards next-generation OPACs and their features

Hollie M. Osborne (Information School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Andrew Cox (Information School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

Program: electronic library and information systems

ISSN: 0033-0337

Article publication date: 2 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to determine whether features of next-generation Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) interfaces are useful and intuitive to users who have different levels of searching ability. In addition, it investigates whether there is a difference between librarians’ and students’ preferences for specific features.

Design/methodology/approach

The research is based on 18 semi-structured interviews conducted in July 2012 with three groups of library users from The University of Sheffield: librarians; Master of Arts Librarianship students; and a group of other post-graduate students.

Findings

Overall, this study suggests that while the next-generation catalogue interfaces and features are useful, they are not as “intuitive” as some previous studies have claimed. Interviewees appeared to prefer the searching and browsing options over the Web 2.0 features. Both librarians and students have similar opinions regarding the usefulness of next-generation OPAC features, but preferences are complex.

Research limitations/implications

The study is based on one institution, and the disciplinary background of the post-graduate students was limited.

Practical implications

Promoting next generation OPACs and explaining their features to users is essential.

Originality/value

The paper adds to the understanding of users’ preferences in relation to next-generation OPACs, locating the findings of the current findings firmly in the context of previous literature.

Keywords

Citation

Osborne, H.M. and Cox, A. (2015), "An investigation into the perceptions of academic librarians and students towards next-generation OPACs and their features", Program: electronic library and information systems, Vol. 49 No. 1, pp. 23-45. https://doi.org/10.1108/PROG-10-2013-0055

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited