Designing for Expert Information Finding Strategies

  • Bob Fields
  • Suzette Keith
  • Ann Blandford


This paper reports on a study of evaluating and generating requirements for the user interface of a digital library. The study involved observation of librarians using the digital library, working on information finding problems on behalf of clients of the library. The study showed that librarians, familiar with the particular digital library system and with information retrieval work in general, possess a repertoire of relatively simple, yet effective, strategies for carrying out searches, and that non-librarians tend not to deploy the same strategies. After describing the study and the most commonly observed strategies, this paper makes some suggestions for how an understanding of how the librarians organize their activities may generate design ideas for user interfaces that aid ‘ordinary’ users in making use of the strategies that help librarians to be effective users.


digital libraries empirical study usability expertise 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bates, M. J. [1990], Where Should the Person Stop and the Information Search Interface Start?, Information Processing and Management 26(5), 575–91.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  2. Belkin, N. J. [1980], Anomalous States of Knowledge as a Basis for Information Retrieval, Canadian Journal of Information Science 5, 133–4.Google Scholar
  3. Belkin, N. J., Cool, C, Kelly, D., Kim, G., Kim, J.-Y, Lee, H.-J., Muresan, G., Tang, M.-C. & Yuan, X.-J. [2003], Query Length in Interactive Information Retrieval, in harles Clarke, G. Cormack, J. Callan, D. Hawking & A. Smeaton (eds.), Proceedings of the 26th Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (SIGIR’03), ACM Press, pp.205–12.Google Scholar
  4. Belkin, N. J., Cool, C, Stein, A. & Thiel, U. [1995], Cases, Scripts and Information-seeking Strategies: On the Design of Interactive Information Retrieval Systems, Expert Systems with Applications 9(3), 379–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blandford, A., Stelmaszewska, H. & Bryan-Kinns, N. [2001], Use of Multiple Digital Libraries: A Case Study, in E. A. Fox & C. L. Borgman (eds), Proceedings of the 1st ACM/IEEE-CSJoint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL’01), ACM Press, pp.179–88.Google Scholar
  6. Borgman, C. L. [1996], Why are Online Catalogs Still Hard to Use?, Journal of the American Society for Information Science 4(7), 493–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cockayne, A., Wright, P. & Fields, B. [1999], Supporting Interaction Strategies through the Externalisation of Strategy Concepts, in A. Sasse & C. Johnson (eds.), Human-Computer Interaction — INTERACT’ 99: Proceedings of the Seventh IFIP Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, Vol. 1, IOS Press, pp.582–8.Google Scholar
  8. Dillon, A. [2001], Technologies of Information: HCI and the Digital Library, in J. M. Carroll (ed), Human-Computer Interaction in the New Millennium, Addison-Wesley, pp.457–74.Google Scholar
  9. Dillon, A. & Song, M. [1997], An Empirical Comparison of the Usability for Novice and Expert Searchers of a Textual and a Graphic Interface to An Art-resource Database, Journal of Digital Information 1(1). Scholar
  10. Ellis, D. & Haugan, M. [1997], Modelling the Information Seeking Patterns of Engineers and Research Scientists in an Industrial Environment, Journal of Documentation 53(4), 384–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hsieh-Yee, I. [1993], Effects of Search Experience and Subject Knowledge on the Search Tactics of Novice and Experienced Searchers, Journal of the American Society for Information Science 44(3), 161–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jones, S. [1998], VQuery: A Graphical User Interface for Boolean Query Specification and Dynamic Result Preview, Working Paper 98/3, Department of Computer Science, University of Waikato.Google Scholar
  13. Jones, S., McInnes, S. & Staveley, M. S. [1999], A Graphical User Interface for Boolean Query Specification, Journal of Digital Information 2(2–3), 207–23.Google Scholar
  14. Lucas, W. & Topi, H. [2002], Form and Function: The Impact of Query Term and Operator Usage on Web Search Results, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 53(2), 95–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Marchionini, G. [1995], Information Seeking in Electronic Environments, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Smith, P. J., Shute, S. J., Galdes, D. & Chignell, M. H. [1989], Knowledge-based Search Tactics for an Intelligent Intermediary System, ACM Transactions on Office Information Systems 7(3), 246–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Stelmaszewska, H. & Blandford, A. [2002], Patterns of Interactions: User Behaviour in Response to Search Results, in A. Blandford & G. Buchanan (eds.), Proceedings of JCDL’02 Workshop on Usability of Digital Libraries — Usability of Digital Libraries, A Workshop at JCDL2002, Available at, pp.29–31.Google Scholar
  18. Sutcliffe, A. & Ennis, M. [1998], Towards a Cognitive Theory of Information Retrieval, Interacting with Computers 10(3), 321–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Vakkari, P. [2001], A Theory of the Task-based Information Retrieval Process: A Summary and Generalisation of a Longitudinal Study, Journal of Documentation 57(1), 44–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Wright, P. C, Fields, R. E. & Harrison, M. D. [2000], Analysing Human-Computer Interaction as Distributed Cognition: The Resources Model, Human-Computer Interaction 15(1), 1–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bob Fields
    • 1
  • Suzette Keith
    • 1
  • Ann Blandford
    • 2
  1. 1.Interaction Design CentreMiddlesex UniversityLondonUK
  2. 2.UCL Interaction CentreUniversity College London, Remax HouseLondonUK

Personalised recommendations