Library Instruction Task Force 2000-2001
Focus Group Responses

1.What did you find to be the biggest challenges when faced with a research project?

- Where to start
- Intimidating
– needed to look for magazines
- The scavenger hunt (prepared by professor) was helpful
- Tell us how to use microfiche
- What keywords to use? I don't know how to approach it
– how do I know when I need to look for books or magazines?
- How to find call numbers
– could only find full-text resources
- How to find scholarly journals
- Going up and down the floors to look for books on the same subject
– can't you group them all together?
- Narrow and broad topics are difficult to find
– too many results are yielded making it hard to find materials
- Where to start. The library is big and intimidating. Wanted to find magazines, but was stuck with books because it was too difficult to find articles.
- Microfiche. The scavenger hunt helped.
- It was difficult to find keywords to locate books & articles.
- Couldn't figure out how to find articles that weren't full text in the database.
- Too many scholarly journals to choose from, and the materials were too spread out in the library.
- Topics were either too narrow or too broad.
- It was difficult to navigate the shelves in the tower.
- Never been in a library so big. It's rather daunting for a first year student to do real research with so many resources.
- From the area and did research at SJCPL, so familiar with ND library, somewhat. Hard to find journals and articles
– used Reader's Guide in the past.
- Couldn't find anything. Needed legal information; asked a librarian and they directed me to the law library and other resources. Entered the library looking for a card catalog NOT an online catalog.
- Never been in a library this big.
- Knowing there is so much out there is daunting. Wanted to use as many resources as possible, but knew there were too many to do this.
- Finding journals and articles in the journals was difficult. Was used to using the Reader's Guide.
- Online resources were nice. Started with online resources and then followed with other sources.
- (did not have instruction) Had a hard time at Hesburgh. Discovered that he needed to be at the Law library.
- (no instruction)
- was not used to an online catalog. Was looking to use a card catalog.
- Hard to find keywords. Tough to come up with a topic of interest to me and research it. - Hard time coming up with a topic. Never know where to start
– catalog? journals?
- Keyword searching is challenging in order to choose the right words.
- Hard to pick a topic that's interesting and THEN do the research. Her topic was interesting, but she wasn't able to find information. She had trouble finding appropriate keywords.
- Has a hard time coming up with topics. Her topics were obscure and she wasn't sure where to start.
- Didn't know the best place to start
- Difficult to select a topic;
- Difficult to establish the right or best keywords to use;
- Find the best place to start looking for material

2.What do you feel is the most challenging aspect in looking for information from library resources? (from computers?) What would help you with your research when using library resources? (computers?)

- Don't know what I want
- Don't know where to start first
- Once I learned that I could do it from home, that was helpful
- Overwhelmed by the number of searches available
- Used the same databases repeatedly – why? Don't understand the differences between the others and we were taught to use this one in our library class
- So much information - not sure how to access it
- Wasn't clear on which search in the catalog was the best search option - Wasn't sure what to look for. Needed help from the librarian.
- Was glad to be able to do her research from home.
- Was overwhelmed by the number of resources and had trouble deciding which ones were the best to use.
- Wanted to know the differences between the resources.
- Had too many choices.
- Library assistants helped.
- Tried the three different search options in the catalog (Title, Keyword, Journal) and got different results. Was not able to decide which to go for.
- Weeding through the topics/hits and how to separate what you can and cannot use. - Quantity of sources and hits. Once you learn how to limit, that is helpful. But it's weeding through the things you don't want and getting to the specifics - that is difficult.
- The speed is great and I'd rather have more information available to me than less.
- Used Academic Search Elite (from instruction session) exclusively. Very dependent on this one resource.
- Instruction session showed him how to select resources and use boolean operators.
- Liked being able to do research at home.
- (no instruction) the librarian at the desk showed him how to find resources.
-- Orientation class provided me with the information. Use ERIC and Academic Search. Professor also gives tips on what to use.
- Coolest thing ever to do it all from the dorm!! Use online catalog and Academic Search; will use other databases, but like Academic Search.
- Didn't know about the resources. Now get 90% of information from there. Find it all to be self-explanatory.
- Did not find the computers (or databases) challenging - was especially happy to be able to search from her dorm room. The fulltext access was very convenient.
- Found searching much easier after the instruction session, but couldn't figure out which journals were best for the topic.
- Research from the dorm is great, but was frustrated by the vagueness of the descriptions of the articles.
- Library web page seemed really self-explanatory. The options are easy to understand.
- Orientation helped with finding electronic resources;
- Professor suggested resources
- After first paper went to more specific resources rather than the general ones like Academic Search

3.Are you currently aware of the electronic resources the library owns? How did you find out about resources the library owns? (Through library instruction? Your Professor? Friends? Asking at the Information Desk? Luck?)

- Scavenger hunt (provided by professor)
- Tour in the library instruction
- Presentation helped us find materials - Used catalog and full text resources
- Most of the information I found was based on what I learned in the library instruction.
- Scavenger hunt helped, but only with limited resources.(assigned by the teacher)
- Library tour introduced indexes to articles.
- Able to find a book during instruction session.
- Presentation during instruction session helped.
- From class we were showed how to use Academic Search Elite.
- Class was good to have; used electronic resources from that class. Learning it on my own would have been more difficult.
- Don't know much about electronic resources. The librarian did show me source within the library Web page that helped me.
- Weeding through the sources was difficult. Had to learn how to sort. Liked being able to look at articles on the computer to determine whether they were useful or not (without having to go to the stacks to find them).
- Found that the number of hits he got with searches was often too large. Needed to learn how to limit searches.
- Getting no hits was difficult as well. He wasn't sure if he was getting no hits because he structured the search wrong, or because we didn't have anything on the topic he was searching.
- Speed of searches is good. Believed that more information is often better than less. Not difficult to use the computers. Love the full text and accessibility from the dorm room.
- Before the session, I had no idea where to go. Have trouble reading the journal descriptions (abstracts) and deciding which one is the best one to choose for my research.
- Do lots of research from dorm. The descriptions (abstracts) of journals are hard to follow. The Web page is self-explanatory, but the orientation sure does help.
- Library orientation told her about the electronic resources. Before orientation she searched mostly for books. She has branched out now.
- Really aware of electronic resources and LOVES access from the dorm room. She has branched out from just using Academic Search FullTEXT.
- Orientation was really helpful for him. He looks for subjects on the Electronic Resources page, and then goes on from there.
- Web-page self explanatory
- Session at the library helpful
- Really likes convenience of being able to get to resources from dorm room

4.Are you most likely to use resources you have used previously? Or use resources that might not be familiar or might be difficult to use, but provide more relevant information?

- Only used library resources twice for my comp class
- Will keep using the same resources until I find something else or ask a librarian (unlikely)
- I will try other things, but we were told to use ERIC as one of the resources
- Learned a new one from my roommate
- Use the same resources repeatedly
- Did attempt to use other resources, but failed – it wasn't user friendly
- Use the ABC menu and the subject menu in the Electronic Resources
- Used the journal search in the catalog to find journal articles – not very successful
- Only when used, would use some resource
- Would "try" and use other resources
- Learned from friends
- Used same resources
- "Branched" out, but was limited or unsuccessful
- Tried to "branch" out from resources used outside of class
- Use Academic Search Elite. Not a problem using others, but always start with this one first.
- Depends on the topic. Do online search with a commercial browser to find lecture notes for classes. Then go online to the library to find books and articles or other worthy material.
- Use same sources, but it depends on the number of sources needed for the research or the topic. Usually talk to the professor to ask for recommendations or will talk to a librarian.
- No, only if no other resources are found
- Depends on topic. I use the Internet a lot
- No, only if I need more than three or four sources.
- Realize ERIC will no help on some topics, so much explore other sources.
- Tend to use things I used before – don't try other resources until I know I can find information in Academic Search Elite.
- Try other things first, then more back to familiar resources.
- I'm going to look into something else because ERIC won't cover it.
- I'll check Academic Search Elite (EBSCO) first then I'll try other stuff.
- I'll start with sources I don't know that well then move back to sources I am already familiar with. - Goes with familiar resources first; then selects others as needed;
- Goes to unknown sources first then to known ones

5.Could you please describe the best/worst experience you had while looking for information off of computers or databases?

Finding what I wanted
1st paper didn't have scholarly resources – easy
Began in dorm room - easy
Found what I needed - easy
Plenty of information - pretty easy
Everyone was helpful
Finding topics easily
Finding other good sources while finding original sources (Information Encountering (accidental discovery of information))
Finding stuff
"Speedy" / quick
Found what I needed
Service orientated (Librarians who helped)
User friendly – easy to use
Current topic - found lots of information
Finding information on the first try
Finding the correct information
Discovering subject links form useful articles


Hard to narrow the topic
First time was intimidating
Challenging to find sources on topic - Using keywords, etc.
Difficult to find scholarly resources
Finding topic in scholarly resources
Looking at the shelves - call numbers are confusing
Finding topics to start
Not finding anything at all
Leading to frustrating times
Frustrated because no sources were found (scholarly)
No information
Finding sources (books)
When the Internet outage occurred
Too many choices on some things. Not sure when to use which search to use in the catalog: keyword or browse
What to do once I have the call number - abbreviations, don't know what it all means
Don't always know who works in the library – some look like students
The Internet outage that recently occurred.
Searching and not coming up with results
Locating books
Hard to find information from scholarly journals/sources - scholars aren't interested in what freshmen want to research
Have a difficult time with keywords – try to read and type in broader and more focused terms, but sometimes nothing works.
Keywords – ‘these' people don't' always think of what ‘ you' think of
Not finding keywords
Too broad subjects
Not finding anything in scholarly journals
Finding the right keyword combination
Selecting keywords

6.Did you feel that you needed to ask someone for help when conducting research on the computer? Do you feel intimidated or uncomfortable by asking for help at the Information Desk? If there is no one around to ask for help, what do you do?

- Instruction helped enough – so I could ask for help if I needed it. Wouldn't feel intimidated to ask, but would have to ask for help if I didn't have the instruction
- they may think I'm stupid and it is intimidating to ask, but I will if I have to
- nice to get the help but frustrating knowing I can't ever get it on my own
- it is intimidating, but once you get to know the personality, then it is more comfortable
- students are not as helpful as the librarians
- helpful
- librarian was helpful and provided me with email & phone number
- Scavenger hunt, not intimidated
- Scavenger hunt, intimidated (somewhat)
- Frustrated, intimidated
- Asked for help
- Another individual, ask for help
- "Comfort level", personality of person helping you.
- Student aid, not helpful
- Librarian was very helpful, gave me phone number and email
- Haven't asked yet, but no problem doing it.
- I'd have to ask for help had it not been for the class.
- I'd ask!
- Haven't asked for help yet, but would not feel intimidated
- Am not intimidated, but will try first on my own
- Did ask for help with keywords – not a problem asking for assistance
- Had trouble finding books, so used the Ask A Librarian. Turn around time was just a couple of hours – very quick.
- Had trouble with keywords and have no problem with asking for help.
- Not difficult to use, just the keyword thing. No problem in asking a librarian.
- Databases were "ok" to use, finding books was hard....I used "ask the librarian"
- Not hard, no questions yet to the librarian
- No problem asking for help when needed;
- Used "Ask a Librarian" and found that very helpful

7. Have your abilities to do or understand library research changed since you had library instruction? How? In what ways? What was the most useful piece of information provided to you during your library instruction? What didn't you learn that would have been helpful?

- No - has not changed
- Scavenger hunt
- Instruction - has helped
- Keyword searching
- Positive, scavenger - used librarian to help
- Without librarian, I would be clueless
- Knowing the use of boolean operators
- Would have been lost with databases....books I think that I could have found out myself
- Found out that there are sources aside from books

Most useful piece of information:

- full text journals
- access from dorm
- full text
- full text
- full text
- periodical journal
- gave general directions
- in case I got stuck, I could now help myself

What didn't you learn that would have been helpful:

-more specific databases
-special collections
-books, locations
- how to look for a journal
- what to see, format (bringing in a copy of a journal, microfiche, etc)
- how to find scholarly material

- Abilities have not changed.
- It would be good to have instruction BEFORE scavenger hunt.
- Instruction allowed them to know how to start.
- Keyword searching has improved.
- Still clueless.
- Fulltext journal & peer reviewed searching are very helpful. Everyone likes full text. - Actually finding an article from the paper journal is good.
- Very happy to be able to access full text from home.
- Need to know more about books.
- Need a tour of the sources in the reference section.
- Need to know more about other databases (other than ERIC)
- There must be an easier way to search for books!
- Would like more info. About the Special Collections.
- Would like more explanation of call numbers and more info on the other libraries on campus.
- Helped when it came for looking for books
- I needed (to learn) some technical assistance from computers
- Searching skills have definitely changed for the better since instruction. The overview of basic things was very useful.
- The bookmarks (of call numbers) was very useful.
- Since instruction has found new avenues of research. Likes special resources online and the fact that he can search these things from home.
- Journal searching has improved.
- Book marks and Academic Search Elite helped the most.
- Pointing out the Electronic Resources and Online Catalog helped.
- Did not learn basic computer stuff, like about the "H" and "I" drives - would have been helpful to learn how to navigate the "I" drive to get to class notes, etc.
- Orientation helped her understand how to use boolean operators.
- It is much easier to do research now. She was able to find books before the orientation, but not much more than that.
- Orientation made it much easier - especially using electronic resources.
- Web based databases - never knew they existed before the orientation.
- Orientation gave him direction and helped him figure out what to do when he got stuck.
- Orientation was easy to follow, not boring, and doing the exercise (finding a book) at the end was good so that if any problems arose questions could be answered immediately.
- Wanted more information about scholarly journals and where to find them.
- Would have helped to see examples of all the types of resources (microfiche/film, etc.)
- Learning Boolean strategies such as "and", "or"
- Finding web based databases

8. How clear is the information on the University Libraries' web page? Do you have suggestions for improvement/changes, etc.?

- Subheading on electronic resources (i.e. Electronic Resources (Journals, Articles, etc))
- Would like subheadings so they can tell what the different options are.
- One student clicked on everything BUT "Electronic Resources" to get to databases.
- One student got lost using "Ask a Librarian".
- Problems with the initial library page that routes from ND's main page (
- When you move the cursor over a link, it should display something (e.g., when you move the cursor over "Electronic Resources", it should say "Journals, Magazines, etc"
- Vocabulary is not too clear on library's homepage.
- Include a "How to" page with some multimedia files.
- Was confused by that interim page was very confusing. Was looking for something that mentioned Hesburgh library or something.
- Has only visited the first 2 choices on the homepage. Was pretty clear about what the choices represented, but would have appreciated labels under links that told them that "Electronic Resources" led to journal articles an online documents.
- Could not tell what Electronic Resources meant.
- Would like descriptions of what the different links mean.
- Clear and self explanatory
- How to find hours
- Hours
- Library home page is very clear and self explanatory.
- Had a hard time finding the library hours. All other sources could be accessed within 2 clicks except the hours.
- Probably wouldn't have known what electronic resources were before investigation.
- Likes that you can get to things in more than one way on the electronic resources gateway. Was never confused about the different ways to access the same resources.
- Also couldn't find the hours.
- Well-organized
- Self-explanatory

9. What suggestions do you have which would improve library instruction for First Year Writing or Freshman students? What do you want more of? Less of? What type of content? If an online tutorial was available, would you use it?

- More than books
-Library tour
-Scavenger hunt was boring
-Finding print resources
-Beyond the 2nd floor
-Online tutorial (for last minute stuff)
-Looking for books (online instruction)
-Map of floors
- Recheck shelving areas
-Signs (for finding stuff)
- The methodology, learned from it.
- Would like to know how to use many resources. More than just books. Would like information about multimedia stuff. Would like to have it during Freshman Orientation Week - before school starts.
- More time.
- Time constraints are bad. Would like more of a tour. Emphasize Electronic Resources.
- Took the library tour online. Would prefer a physical tour.
- Online stuff was the most useful. Books will come in time. An online tutorial would be used, but at the last minute.
- Would like prompts by the stairwells & elevators to check the re-shelving areas.
- Probably wouldn't use an online tutorial.
- Wouldn't use a tutorial and liked that the instruction session was not just lecture.
- Probably wouldn't sign up for a voluntary tour, but wishes he was required to take one.
- Would like to know which databases offer full text articles.
- how to find books
- just too much information to learn about the library in too little time
- expand on the library's "virtual tour"
- More on searching for books. It's good to know which floors the books are on.
- Would like more overall computer instruction.
- Had to learn too much in too little time.
- Hands on instruction was very useful.
- How to find books is most important. Magazine articles come second.
- Next student felt the opposite. Thought that knowing how to find magazine articles is most important because articles often compress information in a much more quickly evaluated format.
- Might like an expansion of the online tour.
- Wouldn't do a tour if it wasn't mandatory.
- Would like tours later in the semester.
- Mandatory tours might be good.
- A "How to use this library" link would be useful - maybe with quicktime videos.
- A step by step online guide of "how to find a book" and "how to find an article".
- Having people to go look for journals
- A library tour that involved an actual session of finding a journal (hands on)
- A library tour would be boring, keep us interested

online tutorials

- A tutor not helpful, a real person is
- A "how to" for developing keywords, not favoring a online tutorial (a real person is preferred)
- Could be frustrating
- An "ask a librarian" based on subject specialist (in other words...a more concise list aside from what is listed on "ask a librarian"
- Explain what is "peer reviewed"
- It would be helpful to have people try to find journals during the session.
- Didn't get out into the library at all, but would have been helpful to have them look for something in the current periodicals room, or someplace that is a little bit unusual.
- A building tour would have been boring. Found the building to be very easy to navigate. - A short tour was useful.
- Wouldn't want to do an on-line tutorial.
- Online tutorial might be useful if it helped you find topics and keywords. Liked having a real person there during orientation.
- Would prefer to figure out sources on his own. Would be irritated with a tutorial.
- Wouldn't do a tutorial unless it was required.
- Would be nice to know who the subject area librarians are.
- Hands-on good; actually finding books and articles would be good;
- Show various formats such as microfilm, fiche

Additional comments:

building hours hard to find
no building tour necessary, but 5-10 minutes walking tour of 1st and 2nd floor OK
web tutorial would be a ‘turn-off"