Online library catalogs: age-related differences in query construction and error recovery

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Online library catalogs have become pervasive in today's library. Unfortunately, these systems have been developed by computer programmers or librarians with little analysis of user behavior on the system. The present study compared the search performance of younger and older adults with general computer experience who were novice online catalog users on a set of ten search tasks of varying difficulty. This study examined types of errors made by novice users in database query construction and subsequent error recovery. Younger adults achieved a higher overall success rate than did older adults and were more efficient in performing these searches. Older adults made more query construction errors and recovered from them less efficiently than did younger adults. These data have important implications for identifying the specific needs, limitations, and capabilities of online library catalog users and the design of online library catalog systems for adults of differing ages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-150
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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