Bridging the Gap: A Conceptual Model of the Access of Digital Libraries

Bing Pan, Helene Hembrooke, Geri Gay, Gerald C. Gonsalves

Abstract


This paper proposes a general conceptual model for the access of digital libraries based
on relevant research in information retrieval, information seeking and foraging, and activity
based design theory. The authors reveal that a gap exists in current digital library design
practices in which a digital library is disconnected from its targeted user community. Search
engines have disintermediated many digital library interfaces and their related evaluation and
usability efforts. Many digital libraries are losing their users since users have learned how to use
search engines to access open Web content of collective knowledge of a wider mass instead of a
specific digital library. Accordingly the authors promote a marketing orientation of digital library
design and argue that we should sell the digital library in users’ familiar information
environment.

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