Title

A user-centered and evidence-based approach for digital library projects

ORCiD

0000-0002-4201-8335

Document Type

Article

Publication Title

The Electronic Library

ISSN

0264-0473

Volume

27

Issue

3

DOI

10.1108/02640470910966862

First Page

409

Last Page

425

Publication Date

1-1-2009

Abstract

Purpose – Soft systems methodology processes fortified by collaborative evidence‐based librarianship (EBL) principles can guide end‐user involvement in digital library project design and development. This paper aims to reveal the efficacy of this inclusive human‐focused approach for building systems through user‐generated research examples.

Design/methodology/approach – From 2003 to 2006, user‐centered interaction design guided increasingly complex human‐computer interaction projects at California Polytechnic State University. Toward that end, project planners invite polytechnic students, supervised by computer science professors, to assess peers' information seeking needs. This student‐generated evidence informs creation of paper prototypes and implementation of usability tests. Sustained relationships between planners and beneficiaries permit iterative evaluation and continuous improvement of design concepts and product functionalities.

Findings – Purposeful conversations aimed at learning from user‐generated evidence enrich the planning process for digital library projects. Reflective of the “learn by doing” educational values of the organization, this approach advances learning among both users and planners throughout user‐centered (re)design experiences.

Practical implications – Collaborative design assumes that enabling interfaces, systems, and environments are best designed and developed inclusively, with and for beneficiaries. Toward that end, practical guidelines are offered to enable replication of this approach, which depends on user produced and interpreted evidence, in other organizational settings.

Originality/value – A paucity of literature exists on the relevance of EBL in the digital age. Similarly, too little applied research has adopted a human‐centered focus for design and development of information systems. Finally, too few digital library projects recognize the value of initiating positive user experiences at project inception.