Author(s)Rogani, Joseph Frank
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AbstractThe interest in academic library consortia has recently grown: this seems to indicate the necessity of collaboration for academic libraries, particularly in spite of increasing costs of collection materials and electronic resources. Furthermore, libraries now need new guidelines for conducting cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses and benchmarks for making decisions. Instruments and practices are needed to assess whether users are really satisfied with the resources libraries provide. Academic libraries need more and more reliable, comparative, quantitative baseline data across disciplines and institutions as a context for interpreting qualitative and quantitative data, in order to understand what is happening locally and how to improve services. Given for granted the importance of such issues, this research intends to focus on the use of a library consortium service, the Emeroteca Virtuale, at the University of Calabria, Italy. The purpose is also to better understand users’ satisfaction with this particular consortium service and their expectations as regards the library system’s electronic services. A short, introductory but important analysis is reported in this research, concerning the online services that some main editors provide users with. This allows the reader to better understand the state-of-the-art of online services related to e-journals. Some details are given in this research, underlining the most important services currently available on the international market for both researchers and librarians. Then, after having defined a literature review, in order to get usable results both quantitative and qualitative methodologies were used, according to the observing and questioning technique so to obtain triangulation. For each methodology that was used, purposes, advantages and limitations for this research are clearly stated. First of all, after a focus group that meant to gather illuminative and generalized data, a questionnaire was carefully prepared and then submitted to patrons, choosing a sample made of 1,350 people. The questionnaire, composed of twenty questions, was submitted both on person (meeting people, not only at libraries but also at laboratories, faculty departments and other places around the campus) and via e-mail. Then, twenty of them were also interviewed and important findings were gathered. Quotes from users are reported in this research, showing feelings and observations that will certainly help us to better manage a future change in the e-journals service provision at our campus. The questionnaire’s response rate was quite good (41.48%), as 560 people over 1,350 answered the questionnaire. This research shows how, notwithstanding a good familiarity xii with the Library System web page (43% of users), 64% of respondents do not use the Emeroteca Virtuale in their study or research activity. Frequency of use, as well as reasons for use and non use of this tool were investigated and results are reported in this research, which also shows what are the main problems users face while performing their searches in the Emeroteca Virtuale. Furthermore, thanks to this research, we now know what kind of suggestions users can give in order to improve the use of the Emeroteca Virtuale, while their research habits were investigated. The questionnaire also intended to measure users’ satisfaction with the services provided by the Emeroteca Virtuale and to evaluate the impact on users of some initiatives that the Library System could propose. Results reported in this research are quite interesting and they demonstrate not only that users are interested in having more journal titles available and an improved service for remote access, but also that they would be particularly satisfied if more information and more training on the use of electronic tools were provided at the libraries. What is more, a usability test was performed, involving 5 people from different categories, in order to assess the ease of use and the usefulness of the Emeroteca Virtuale. The participant observation intended to focus on this digital tool, while comments from users were carefully noticed by the researcher, outlining users’ behaviour while performing the scheduled three different tasks. Furthermore, the number of clicks of the mouse and time needed to perform each task were also measured. Finally, a post-test questionnaire was submitted and results show that most users find it easy to perform searches in the Emeroteca Virtuale. The final analysis led to the drawing up of logical findings and conclusions based on data. Results of the whole investigation are reported using graphs and citing quotes from interviewed users, adding a qualitative perspective to the research. Results finally allow us to define the level of users’ satisfaction with the electronic services at our campus and, in particular, with the Emeroteca Virtuale. Recommendations for further research are also given, together with a definition of the limitations of this research. Finally, since no previous study had been done at our University, this work can be considered useful in order to fill the gap and is a good starting point for further improvements:we know our patrons deeper and we are now prepared to manage new changes to improve access to e-journals at our campus especially through consortium agreements, as well as to improve new services in order to meet users’ satisfaction.