Academic journal article
By Bruce, Harry; Clayton, Peter
Australian Academic & Research Libraries , Vol. 30, No. 3
In recent years, there has been widespread speculation that emerging global networks may represent the vanguard for a fundamental redefinition of the library.(1) As the earliest beneficiary of Internet technologies, the academic library is often held as a prime example of this transformation. It is easy to see why: networked information resources and services are now commonplace in the academic library. Remote access for students and staff has become standard practice. New policies to accommodate the electronic journal are being developed, and full-text rather than bibliographic retrieval has become the benchmark for information provision. In this context, it is not surprising to note that academic librarians are actively seeking an Internet role.
The library and information services sector has long held the view that traditional library know-how is needed to solve the what is out there problems of the Internet. In spite of an ever increasing number of search engines and directories, there is little doubt that it is often easier for network users to share information than to discover that information on the Internet.(2) The professional literature of librarianship is, therefore, replete with articles providing instructions on how to access Internet information services and resources.(3) Furthermore, the library and information services sector has convened conferences on Internet searching,(4) published instruction books on Internet use(5) and taken an editorial interest in journals that examine the needs and behaviours of the network user.(6)
The academic library community has taken a keen interest in Internet awareness and training. This initiative has been widely supported. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the JANET User Group for Libraries has promoted the view that British academic libraries should exercise a role in network user support and training. Similarly, in the United States, the Coalition of Networked Information (CNI) has established a Management, Professional and User Education Working group. This group is centred at the Library of Arizona State University and its focus has been the development of a packet of information on the network and the establishment of a clearinghouse of training materials. Another training initiative in the United States was offered by the University of Southwest Louisiana library. This involved offering network training interactively over the Internet.(7) In Australia, academic libraries have sought a role in network training on various campuses.(8) Indeed, in 1993, the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) recommended the commissioning of a national survey of network training programs, including those undertaken by libraries together with the promotion of a national training initiative to fund selected library sites as centres of network user training excellence.(9)
It seems logical that the academic library community should assume a role in Internet training. Reader services in the form of current awareness and instruction have traditionally been an important part of the curriculum vitae of an academic librarian. The training of end-users also became an increasingly significant issue through the 1980s when end-user interfaces for online databases were developed and the use of this sort of electronic information resource became commonplace in the academic library. A number of research studies(10) have confirmed that training is an important factor in the overall satisfaction that users derive from seeking information from digital resources. But do these conclusions hold true for information searching on the Internet? Given the interest that the academic library sector has in Internet training, it seems reasonable to suggest that the impact of training on Internet users ought to be explored.
This article examines the view that training might increase the satisfaction that users derive from information seeking on the Internet. …