Computer training at Catford Library:users' information needs and expectations

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Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economics and Social Studies

Original languageEnglish
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Award date2012
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Abstract

The free internet training for beginners at Catford Library in South London is based around the ‘Go ON’ website. It is well-used, especially by older customers, but people are disconcerted by having to specify a keyword ‘goal’ for their training when they are enrolling. This dissertation explores users’ information needs and expectations about the training and the Learning Centre – the part of the library in which the training takes place. The views of ‘non-returners’ are also explored – people who abandoned the course without completing it. The views of the existing users were garnered in informal semi-structured interviews. The views of the ‘non-returners’ were collected using self-completion postal questionnaires. The responses were analysed by coding them according to Nicholas’s ‘information needs’ categories (Nicholas, 2000). The findings showed that, before they started the course, users expected that there would be more staff involvement and guidance, but some of them appreciated the self-taught nature of the course. The users seemed very self-aware of their lack of knowledge, but undeterred by this. The users’ feelings about the library space seemed to be a more important factor in whether they returned to the training than their views of the training itself. The users were unaware of the provider of the course, showing trust in this library-based activity. Nicholas’s framework was found to be an effective tool for revealing and analysing information in this situation, both for interviews and questionnaires. The difficulties of comparing data collected from different groups by these different methods is discussed. Recommendations for changes to the Learning Centre service are made, including the introduction of ‘taster’ sessions and allowing users to study on their own laptops