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Diverse mobile users: the development of library experts

Jim Hahn (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 12 October 2018

Issue publication date: 24 April 2019




The purpose of this paper is to undertake a formative evaluation of growth over time that would demonstrate diverse library users’ development as they interact with mobile digital library services.


This paper incorporated a server log analysis to evaluate first, the location of users. To study the nature of diverse user development, users from unique locations were identified and tracked over several years. The type of growth that this paper analyzes is the development of a library user from the beginning stages of use into one who is more experienced. For the purposes of this paper, the authors define library experts as experienced library users. These are users who have come back to the library over multiple sessions of learning and branched out into multiple areas of library functionality and services.


The findings of modular mobile use over time suggest that, while over half of users only utilized one module, 39 per cent of all users accessed more than one module. This formative approach to assessing student library engagement suggests alternative metrics for assessing outreach and distance learning.


The underlying departure point for this study is that formative models may introduce descriptive data valuable to the learning analytics toolkit. The library research literature on learning analytics, and perhaps library service offerings that support learning, may gain additional value by attending to students’ formative development as they interact with library resources. Describing the way in which mobile app users develop can yield insights about learning over time, both on campus and at a distance.



Hahn, J. (2019), "Diverse mobile users: the development of library experts", Reference Services Review, Vol. 47 No. 1, pp. 6-20.



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