Digital Natives and Specialised Digital Libraries: A Study of Europeana Users

Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 96)


The alignment of user needs with the technical capabilities of modern digital libraries is an area attracting the interest of researchers and practitioners. Europeana, conceived with the intention of offering a single access point to European cultural heritage, has been developed in recent years with a continuous effort to identify and respond to the needs of a range of users. This paper presents a study of two user communities – young people and the general public. The study, conducted between October 2009 and January 2010, comprised a series of focus groups and media labs in Bulgaria, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK. A distinctive aspect of this study is that it combines questionnaire-based and verbal feedback gathered from users with evidence of user actions whilst undertaking a well-defined task. The paper presents the context and the methodology of the study, and some of the data gathered within the study which helps to understand better the attitude of digital natives towards specialised digital libraries. The data analysis supports several conclusions: specialised digital libraries require strong advocacy to target the “digital natives” generation which tends to prefer general purpose search engines to specialised resources; young users are confident that they know how to use advanced search yet there is little evidence of their applying these skills in contrast to general public users; the perception of digital libraries differs in groups from different countries. The study contributes to the better understanding of some behavioural characteristics of users of digital libraries.


Digital libraries Europeana user groups user characteristics user study methodology 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Prensky, M.: Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon 9, 1–6 (2001),,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
  2. 2.
    Khoo, M., Buchanan, G., Cunningham, S.J.: Lightweight User-friendly Evaluation Knowledge for Digital Libraries, D-Lib Magazine, 15 (2009),
  3. 3.
    Sundqvist, A.: The Use of Records – A Literature Review. Archives & Social Studies: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Research 1, 623–653 (2007)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    IMLS: Assessment of End-User Needs in IMLS-Funded Digitization Projects,
  5. 5.
    Candela, L., et al.: The DELOS Digital Library Reference Model - Foundations for Digital Libraries. Version 0.98,
  6. 6.
    Goncalves, M., Fox, E., Watson, L., Kipp, N.: Streams, Structures, Spaces, Scenarios, Societies (5s): A Formal Model for Digital Libraries. ACM Transactions on Information Systems 22, 270–312 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Formative Evaluation of the JISC Digitisation Programme Phase 2,
  8. 8.
    Meyer, E.T., Eccles, K., Thelwall, M., Madsen, C.: Usage and Impact Study of JISC-funded Phase 1 Digitisation Projects & the Toolkit for the Impact of Digitised Scholarly Resources (TIDSR),
  9. 9.
  10. 10.
  11. 11.
    DiSCmap: Digitisation in Special Collections: Mapping, Assessment, Prioritisation,
  12. 12.
    Guthrie, K., Griffiths, R., Maron, N.: Sustainability and Revenue Models for Online Academic Resources,
  13. 13.
    Warwick, C., et al.: The LAIRAH Project: Log Analysis of Digital Resources in the Arts and Humanities,
  14. 14.
    Proffitt, M., Schaffner, J.: The Impact of Digitizing Special Collections on Teaching and Scholarship: Reflections on a Symposium about Digitization and the Humanities,
  15. 15.
  16. 16.
    Fuhr, N., et al.: Evaluation of Digital Libraries. International Journal on Digital Libraries 8, 21–38 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Wilson, T.D.: Models in Information Behaviour Research. Journal of Documentation 55, 249–270 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Europeana i2010: Europeana – A Single Access Point to Europe’s Cultural Heritage. Europe’s Information Society Thematic Portal,
  19. 19.
    Bloomberg, R., et al.: Functional Specification for Europeana Rhine Release, D3.1 of Europeana v1.0 project (public deliverable) (2009)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Miller, P.: The Concept of the Portal. Ariadne 30 (2001),
  21. 21.
  22. 22.
  23. 23.
    Leeuw De, K., Ponse, A.: Informatics and Secondary Education in the Netherlands (2008),
  24. 24.
    Tonta, Y.: Dijital Yerliler, Sosyal Ağlar ve Kütüphanelerin Geleceği (Digital Natives, Social Networks and the Future of Libraries). Türk Kütüphaneciliği 23, 742–768 (2009)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    CIBER ’Google Generation’ Project. Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future,
  26. 26.
    Bryan-Kinns, N., Blandford, A.: A Survey of User Studies for Digital Libraries, RIDL Working Paper, London (2000)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Feliciati, P., Natale, M.T.: Handbook on Cultural Web User Interaction, First edition, MINERVA eC WG5, Rome,

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Digital Library Research (CDLR), Information Resources Directorate (IRD)University of StrathclydeGlasgowUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Department of Information ManagementHacettepe UniversityBeytepe, AnkaraTurkey
  3. 3.Department of Cultural HeritageUniversity of MacerataFermoItaly

Personalised recommendations