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An evaluation of a training and assistance program for the CD‐ROM Databases: Reflections on the process

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 1 February 1992


Compact disk database systems have been proliferating in libraries for the past several years. Producers have promoted them as user‐friendly, self‐instructional systems that require little on‐site assistance for use. Libraries have placed the systems out for use and have sometimes found this assumption questionable. Numerous articles have appeared on planning for these new reference tools, but only a few have presented evaluations of their implementation and impact on librarians and library services (e.g., Lynn and Bacsany, 1989; Schultz and Salomon, 1990; Welsh, 1989; Steffy and Meyer, 1989; Nissley, et al., 1989; LePoer and Mularski, 1989; Nash and Wilson, 1991). Most have used user surveys to garner data on user satisfaction and effectiveness. Such questionnaires have tended to indicate favorable user reaction to the systems and to the relevance to their needs of the retrieved citations (e.g., Pope, 1989; Bleeker, Tjiam, and Volkers, 1988) while others have shown the former but not the latter phenomenon. Nash and Wilson (1991) found that students were satisfied with their searches but that over one‐third retrieved relatively useless or inappropriate citations. They found the undergraduates they surveyed and/or interviewed had problems critically analyzing the results of their searches. Stewart and Olsen (1988) conducted an experimental comparison of ERIC on CD‐ROM (SilverPlatter) and in print form. Subjects using the CD‐ROM outperformed those using the print index in retrieving relevant references for assigned topics. One particularly interesting result showed subjects using CD‐ROM with no prior training outperforming subjects trained to use print indexes. Further, regardless of treatment group membership, 90 percent felt that the CD‐ROMs would yield the greatest number of useful references. Both instructed and uninstructed CD‐ROM groups rated their methods as easier than print indexes.


Kenny, R.F. and Schroeder, E. (1992), "An evaluation of a training and assistance program for the CD‐ROM Databases: Reflections on the process", Reference Services Review, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 41-48.




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