Know your library : user orientation

  • Sridhar M
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In a recent longitudinal comparative study of card catalogue and OPAC of ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) Library, it was sadly noted that despite automation and meticulously developing, updating and maintaining nine databases on OPAC, almost doubling the number of registered members, collection and use of documents over the same period, use of OPAC has not much increased compared to use of card catalogue. It is often speculated that there is substantial decline in general reading habit and use of libraries over a generation. Promoting the use of OPAC (and multiple databases on them) through user education/ orientation instruction programmes was felt again and again. After all, OPAC, like card catalogue, continue to be one of the many means by which users discover bibliographic references of their potential interest. Having faced such a situation, gearing up user education/ orientation programmes particularly to new users and younger generation is much desired.
The purpose of user education is to make the end user searching as easy and as comfortable as possible, to minimise waiting time at the terminal and to avoid resorting to time consuming trial and error mode. Some of the new technologies are pretty easy to use but few can be effectively used without training. The need for training can be ascertained from the signs of novice users sitting in front of the terminal with lots of beeps, moving back and forth or from menu to menu and long periods of inactivity as well as the need expressed by users themselves.

Author-supplied keywords

  • know your library
  • library user manual
  • user education
  • user orientation

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  • M S Sridhar

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