Influences of general computer experience and age on library database search performance

Sherry E. Mead, Richard A. Sit, Wendy A. Rogers, Brian A. Jamieson, Gabriel K. Rousseau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two experiments examined the effects of general computer experience and age on library system search performance among novice library system users. Twenty younger adults (10 with high and 10 with low computer experience) and 20 older adults (10 with low and 10 with no computer experience) performed 10 search tasks of varying difficulty. Search success, syntax errors, database field specifications, keyword specifications, and use of Boolean operators were examined. Among younger novices, high computer experience was associated with slightly better performance than low computer experience. Among older novices, having some computer experience was associated with much better performance than no computer experience. Older computer users showed lower overall success rates, made more syntax and field specification errors, and demonstrated poorer understanding of Boolean logic and keyword matching algorithms than younger adults with similar computer experience. Implications for interface design and training interventions for novice on-line library system users are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-123
Number of pages17
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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