The ability to conduct unobtrusive observation of user searching is a potential strength of the method of information retrieval system analysis known as transaction log analysis (TLA). Transaction logs supply unequivocal information about what a user typed while searching. All other methods rely on self‐reporting, which, as Nielsen points out, is not always corroborated by the logs. Regardless of where in an institution information retrieval (IR) system evaluation takes place, TLA is a method that enables library staff at all levels to examine a variety of system and user‐related activities that are recorded on the log. Dominick suggested that TLA can enable the examination of three broad categories of activity: 1) system performance and resource utilization, 2) information retrieval performance, and 3) user interaction with the IR system. This article has been divided into several sections corresponding to functional areas in a library to suggest useful applications of TLA.
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