Evaluating the Intersection Between WorldCat Local and Student Research

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Information Literacy | Library and Information Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The College of St. Benedict and St. John's University Library have used WorldCat Local as a discovery tool since 2008. After four years of use and numerous anecdotes about the difficulties encountered with this product, a committee was formed to test the tool's usability and effectiveness. Seven female and six male students were asked to find appropriate materials within WorldCat Local for a mock research assignment. The students’ research and thought processes were recorded and studied. The recordings were analyzed by the committee, and the search strategies as well as the materials selected by the students were evaluated and scored. Although the sample size limits generalizability, the videos provided an in-depth look into the students’ research processes and their evaluation of what they found. Students generally fared well when asked to identify suitable books for their research topic, but they encountered many difficulties interpreting article records and identifying appropriate articles. Some WorldCat Local interface features appeared to be either the source of student problems or were not used effectively. Anyone wanting to replicate this study in his or her own evaluation of a discovery tool will want to be aware of the issues encountered in this evaluation of WorldCat Local.