LSTA: Evaluation of NOVEL, Appendix A

Evaluation of New York's Library Services and Technology Act

Evaluation of the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library (NOVEL)

Himmel & Wilson, Library Consultants
February 18, 2007

This document also available in .PDF


Executive Summary

The Evaluation


The Evaluation Process


  1. Focus Group Sites
  2. Web Survey Respondents

Summary of Focus Groups -- Librarian and End-User Sessions

Summary of Interviews with Library Professionals

Summary of Interviews with End-Users

Summary of Web Survey Results


Maps 3-12: NOVEL Usage 2005

  1. Entire State
  2. Western New York
  3. Finger Lakes
  4. Rochester, Syracuse, Watertown Area
  5. Adirondack Region
  6. Capital Region
  7. Catskill Region
  8. Greater New York City area
  9. New York City
  10. Long Island

Responses to Specific Questions Raised in the Request for Proposal for the NOVEL Evaluation


Appendices -- NOVEL Evaluation --

  1. Focus Group Report -- Librarian Sessions
  2. Focus Group Report -- End-User Sessions
  3. Interviews with Library Professionals
  4. Web Survey Report

Appendix A: NOVEL Evaluation - Focus Group Report - Librarian Sessions

Nine focus group sessions with librarians were scheduled between July 10 and July 18th.  A total of ninety people took part in the sessions, which were held in Batavia, Canastota, Farmingdale, Fredonia, Highland, Ithaca, New York City, Saratoga Springs and Watertown.  The participants came from public libraries, private and public schools, community colleges, public and private colleges and universities, library systems, and special libraries.

The NOVEL databases are a major resource, essential in some libraries and complementary or supplementary in others. 

  • Public librarians reported that reference questions were increasingly being answered with electronic resources and that fewer paper reference materials were being purchased. 
  • A medical librarian pointed out that printed information might already be two years old and that she had no room to house the last two years of periodicals in paper. 
  • Librarians and school library media specialists representing small public libraries and school library media centers frequently said they had no other databases.
  • Even librarians who said the databases were supplementary went on to say that the currency of the databases made them an important supplement to the print collections.
  • An academic librarian explained that the databases were complementary; their focus is on the graduate school level, but the library also serves faculty and students on the personal level as well.
  • Having NOVEL databases, “augment what we can afford to pay for.”
  • Several participants from various types of libraries emphasized that consistency across all types of libraries was important to students as they moved from elementary to high school to college to using public or special libraries.  “We can help students become knowledge information literate; the NOVEL databases raise the bar.”

Among the most heavily used databases, including others in addition to NOVEL, were the health and wellness databases, Business & Company Resources Center, the various levels of MasterFILE, and newspaper databases.

Database use is often “self taught” although there were grants earlier for training. 

  • Training needs to be ongoing because staff members change, the databases change, and even those with training forget how if they use the databases infrequently.
  • Training needs to be provided at the teachable moment or in relation to a specific subject of interest to the user.  One-on-one training seems to be highly effective in training new users.

Participants find people/potential users do not understand the difference between databases and the Internet.  Users “Google” to get information instead. 

If the NOVEL databases disappeared tomorrow, many libraries and their users would suffer. 

  • Many small school library media centers and public libraries would have very limited (or no) electronic resources.  “It would decimate our resources.”
  • “It would increase the gap between haves and have-nots.”
  • Because the databases have been available, librarians have stopped purchasing print materials in some areas; consequently, collections would have limited materials in some areas.  “It would create a serious gap in our informational resources; I’d have to cut something else.”
  • “We wouldn’t find a lot of answers for many of our customers.”  (Reference service would suffer.)
  • Participants thought the users would miss the health resources and the newspaper databases most.
  • “It’s very useful in academic libraries, but academics wouldn’t be impacted as much; the academics buy a lot of other things.”  
  • The image of libraries and librarians would suffer.  “NOVEL makes me look good to my staff and students.  You’d look bad to the public if you didn’t have those electronic resources.”

Participants gave several reasons they believe some people choose not to use the databases.

  • Potential users don’t know what the databases are.  “It’s an awareness issue.”
  • Some find searching difficult.
  • Driver’s license access is helpful to some, but a deterrent to students without a New York State driver’s license, either because they are too young to have a driver’s license or from out of state.

Many suggestions were offered for electronic resources to be added to the NOVEL databases; however, the suggestions seemed to vary by the clientele served.

  • School library media specialists often said “any good encyclopedia” or named a specific encyclopedia.  However, librarians from other types of libraries didn’t think encyclopedias were used by their clients even though they had tried different ones.
  • School library media specialists also suggested that databases coded for reading levels would be very helpful.
  • Public librarians suggested genealogical resources and test preparation databases along with newspapers and various other topical databases.
  • Academic and medical librarians wanted “higher level” databases.

Suggestions for marketing the databases to the general public included

  • As SAFE sources of information
  • Getting out where the users are
  • A statewide campaign done by the state (although some participants disliked the idea of spending money on marketing; they preferred that funds be spent on content.) and
  • Branding (that everybody knows about).

Other issues arose and were discussed during the focus group sessions as well.

  • Getting usage statistics for the databases is difficult at some levels.
  • Databases are complex to use: protocols are not standardized; spelling is a challenge for some people and search strategies are difficult for some people to develop.
  • Terms such as databases and NOVEL confuse potential users.
  • There is disagreement over the usefulness of federated searching at this point. 

A sampling of comments from the focus group sessions follow organized by questions or topics.

How do the NOVEL databases fit into your arsenal of tools to serve your library’s users? How have you integrated them into your services?
At the public library reference desk most of our questions are being answered online.  I also focus less on purchasing reference.  We are getting our answers electronically – it’s unusual when we go into the paper reference materials.
Our stats show we’re using print reference resources less and less and electronic ones more and more.

For the public libraries NOVEL is major.  Many don’t subscribe to other databases.
If we didn’t have NOVEL, we wouldn’t have access to much.
In my public library the databases are supplemental information.  We have lots of print materials, but the databases are current and supplement the print well.
For us it’s the main portion of what we offer, it’s not supplemental.  And, they’ve made an impact.

The databases are extremely important; if the Internet is down, I have no resources to teach.
In my high school only 10 or 15% of the students think to use the books that surround them.
We are trying to get the students away from Googling and to use the databases.

In the school sector it changes a lot of what we can do.  We use newspapers and magazines. 
For many of the school districts this is all that they have.  It’s a matter of economics.  We’re trying to bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
In the schools, NOVEL databases have helped a lot in getting us to launch into
databases; they were a good stepping stone.

When you’re talking online vs. the collection with the medical databases, the printed information may already be two years old, and there’s no way we could house the last two years of periodicals in paper.
Students tend to use the more technical structured resources, but they don’t link well through content URL.  We wouldn’t put many of our kids into many of the NOVEL databases because Gale doesn’t support standard open URL.  They can work at article level but not at the journal level. With ILL we check to see if the resources are in the NOVEL databases. 
In our academic library it’s a supplement, but it pays for some things so that we can buy other things. 
The NOVEL databases supplement what we receive from SUNY.

For us they’re not scholarly, but they are a great supplement.  The business and company and health databases are being used.
At our community college the health and business ones are heavily used; students are very busy; being able to access the databases from home is really important. Students are also taking online courses and the good basic databases are helpful.

They extend our hours of service; we supplement the health databases with some of our own.
We get databases in three ways.  The NOVEL EBSCO databases are the backbone.  We also supplement with others.  People are using them.  The library also has other things.  In our annual survey the first question this year is “do you have a computer at home?”

It’s nice that it’s consistent across all types of libraries—high school, public, and academic—kids have learned how to use them in high school.  It’s also good that it’s the same across the year.  (Consistency in the specific databases that are provided) When there is a change or a deletion people (users) are upset.
The University at Albany uses the NOVEL databases, but we’re part of a consortium, SUNY Connect.  However, those databases change a lot.  Students want right here, right now.
Our college is occupational, so NOVEL is supplemental for us because we get other specific ones, i.e., LexisNexis.  It’s important that our students can turn to NOVEL after they leave us.  NOVEL is a step in keeping them involved.  Most of the companies that they go to work at won’t have the databases.
At the system NOVEL is our backbone.  We have three layers.  NOVEL is basic; the system purchases a few more; and larger libraries in the system buy more on top of that.  NOVEL’s the base; all else is icing.
They’re easy to fit in; we do 9th grader orientation, also have other databases; also do orientation when the students have research papers.

Very big—used to subscribe to health and business ones, we save lots of money with NOVEL
They’re all valuable, lets you have money to purchase others.
SUNY buys together; but we use the business database a lot and the newspapers; not health for us
Integral part of the databases we provide.
They augment what we can afford to pay for.
For us they are complementary; our focus is on the graduate level, but we do offer information on the personal level to faculty and students.
They are essential but complementary; they provide a connection to the business community. They are invaluable for the company profiles.
They’re just part of our constellation of 40,000 electronic resources.
We use them and they are appreciated, Twayne’s and MasterFILE Select in particular, but our institution has a budget for electronic resources of $ 500,000.

The NOVEL databases have been essential to build our relationships with our state legislators.  We train the legislative aides.   They want to know the business information, the newspapers…especially the ones that let you set up alerts.

It’s important that we provide access to everybody and NOVEL has done that.
Students who get these skills in high school bring more sophisticated skills to the college level; access and using the databases are essential at the ground level.
At the school library media center level we’re combating “good is good enough.”  We can help students become knowledge information literate; the NOVEL databases raise the bar.

Which databases get the most use at your library?
(Note a number in parenthesis indicates the number of times the specific answer was given. Note also that participants were not asked to limit their answers to NOVEL databases in response to this question.)

Health & Wellness databases  (11)
Business & Company Resources Center  (7)
EBSCO  (7)
MasterFILE Select  (4)
Literature  (3)
MasterFILE Premiere (2)
MasterFILE  (2)

Custom newspapers  (2)
Newspapers, especially the NY Times
NY state newspapers—fill gaps in the NY Times (historical)
National Newspaper Index doesn’t get used because it’s just an index.

InfoTrac Kids
Our students are using Opposing Viewpoints; students love it
Science resource

Grolier’s Encyclopedia; SUNY Connect
World Book is also a huge one.
We like Grolier’s better than World Book.
If there was an encyclopedia, Grolier or World Book, it would be used. 
Almost every school purchases an encyclopedia.

Country Watch
Biography Resource Center
We have several of the Gale resource center databases; Gale’s stuff is very usable. 
Gale Reference Center
We’re moving to Power Search
We have Web-Feet at B&ECPL

One of heavily used ones is the phone reference.
Sometimes the NOVEL databases don’t get used because people are already used to using something else.  Many faculty assume that information literacy is using Lexis/Nexus.
The college libraries belong to WALDO and we have PROQUEST
We teach classes using the Novel databases:  medical, newspapers and magazines.
Index to NPR

Searchasaurus by the younger school kids
We have Learn Test.
Genealogy is big; we have Heritage Quest

Has your training been useful/meaningful? Adequate? What about the training you provide users?
University library--we didn’t get any, but we have lots of experience with databases.
(Academic) we haven’t had specific training, but our staff knows how to search databases.
We have three libraries on campus: medical, architectural, and general. So mastering some of the databases is distributed; we’re not organized in terms of updating or refreshing ourselves, just stumbling across 100 databases is difficult.

For our institution it was “here you go.”   The 3 Rs Council does review things each year; this year it was very helpful.  There are some times where the business resources would be helpful in the hospital setting.
Most has been just on the job.
EBSCO did come and do some training at the outset.  It wasn’t spectacular, but it was something.
It’s generally a train the trainer framework.    We get trained at the system/3Rs.   

WNYLRC did training for us; their training has been important to us.
SALS does training for us; we have experience too, but new staff need training.
SALS provided training in our area, but our library is small and we can’t always get people to it.  SALS has had to come to us multiple times to get everybody trained.
Even librarians who have been to training need refreshers.

We made database instruction a requirement for all the reference librarians, full time and part time.
I’ve been to a number of sessions that were very helpful, but it has been a while; it would be nice if there was money for the system to do it again; we get new staff; you kind of forget.  The vendors don’t do as good a job.  The databases change too.

The databases are pretty intuitive and easy for librarians to figure out; the big problem is remembering what’s there.  We subscribe to a lot of databases and it’s hard to keep all the staff on top of all them. 
You get a question…Custom Newspapers database has NY Times articles (free) daily.  But you have to use it daily to know those little details. 

We provide training, but people in large libraries tend to know how already; reaching small libraries is a challenge.
We got a NOVEL grant for training and we were able to customize the training with lesson plans and units.
We do constant training for staff on the NOVEL databases; we get grants that involve NOVEL databases.
With the LSTA grant for training we did 16 workshops targeting teachers by subject area.

In the schools we’ve offered training once a year.
The BOCES provides training after conferences and school hours, but it’s up to the media persons in libraries to come.
We took a subject area and married that with the databases, brought health teachers together and looked at the health databases.
Coming in new as a school director, I found there really was nothing in the way of training.

I have had some trouble in training with my older staff; the whole concept doesn’t seem to fly with the older staff. The same is true with the public.
As a staff you really learn as you start to help your patrons.  You tend to learn the databases as you begin to use them.
I’m in a small library and the problem is that if the staff doesn’t use the databases often, they lose the skill/information they received in training.  Maybe there could be a guide on four basic things about using each database so that they couldn’t forget, maybe things with screen shots and small guides or an online guide for consumers.

Unless you give people something that they want, the training is useless.  The training has to be related to a specific purpose in mind.
What gets the users trained is the content, not the process.  The content isn’t apparent to the public.

We need to have more online tutorials and interactive tutorials.
Virtual is good, but having the person in the room is still better.
Distance is a problem as well. If you’re in Jamestown or Olean, you’re on the road for a long time. The training needs to be spread out geographically.

Faculty training is the hardest.  They sometimes give wrong information to the students.  The NOVEL databases are among the most simplistic of the databases that we have, but the faculty doesn’t understand.  They need to be trained as users, but there isn’t a venue for doing so.
A similar thing happens in the public library.  Students are given assignments and the teachers do not recognize what some of these things are.

We do a lot of one on one at the reference desk.  We listen and say “the best bet is…”
Generally I sit down with users and show them how.  I do a lot of one on one.
At my library we were doing a lot of one on one so I just starting developing bookmarks and items with passwords.
My favorite part of the job is showing people how to do it.
I’ve had my elementary teachers say that there’s nothing, but then you show them Searchasaurus and they’re amazed.

I need a tool that shows whether there is access to a particular journal.
Our system provides a one page document for all of the district librarians and then a brochure to be distributed for each of the school districts.
In the school setting they put an icon on the computers that go directly to the databases.

The homeschool parents are coming in a lot more.
In the model schools programs the teachers are getting more training at a district site.
We do most of the searching in the health area for the users.

One of the hardest things in training is figuring out the right keyword to use. 
People get intimidated going to Help.  There should be more examples.
Patrons don’t want much instruction: “Just tell me how to do this, don’t confuse me with more.”
Narrowing search terms is hard; that’s why Google is good enough for some.
Some of the databases do a better job than others; they have terms to narrow searches on the side.

The training we provide (academic) depends on where the kids went to high school; some got great training and others got little or nothing.
Kids that have an I-pod, a cell phone and their own laptop still can’t grasp that I have three different kinds of computers and each accesses the Internet a little differently.

For staff and public training, we have two wonderful labs, but no one to do the training.
We’ve been relying on the vendors for the training of staff.
I would like to see the State have training for the professional staff.
If there was a regularly scheduled time and place, that would be helpful.

I also go to school and ask whether they use the databases…”You use these, right?”  I just use every captive audience I find; I say, “Did you know you can get full text New York Times free?”

Talk about user behaviors.  Is it difficult/easy to introduce databases to new users?
A lot of people don’t know how to distinguish a database from an online resource;  they don’t understand searching and how the resources are different.
People don’t understand how things are structured on the Internet.
In schools neither the staff nor the students comprehend that there is any distinction. They don’t understand…”can’t I just Google it?” 
Most think about Googling it first.   It depends on how aggressive the librarian is in marketing the databases.

I find that people are easily frustrated, especially the middle aged older adults.  Some just really don’t get it.
It’s an ongoing battle.  Some of our patrons never will use it.
There are lots who are receptive; they may go in and do their search, but they miss all the bells and whistles.  They miss out; some put in too much information.
The teens are more receptive.

My experience in instruction is that you need to address a specific topic.  When the need is well defined, i.e., a professor defines X number of peer reviewed articles, or my dracaena is dying, then it’s much easier to teach.

We’ve tried classes, but we don’t get attendance.  What works is “point of need.”
Frequency of use is an issue; we use a database every day, but a user might use it only once every 2-3 months and it’s hard to remember how to do it.  They get confused where they found something.  You have to show them over and over again. 
A recent MLS grad doesn’t know either; they’re trained on specific databases
In an academic library we face the problem that the periodicals were on CD-ROMs before.  Students lose what’s what online versus on databases.  We tell them online things need to be evaluated.

When we answer reference questions, we’ll make the point of turning the screen so the user can see.
We drill it into them in the schools. In the school, you try to get to the teachers. Winning the teachers over is essential; then they‘ll require the students to use it.
We introduce NOVEL to administrators.

I do a series of lessons with the students.  We created a research handbook.   We go in using the same topic and they go through the features of the databases.
We did a few parent workshops, but they were not really successful.
Faculty can be interesting.  They can be real allies. 

We have all of our databases listed on a separate page; there is no distinction between or among the resources.

If the NOVEL databases disappeared tomorrow, what impact would that have on your library users?
Many school districts would have nothing.
Every dollar matters because of the increasing costs.  The financial implications would be horrendous.
BOCES would see a big jump in what schools have to buy.  For many schools NOVEL and the encyclopedia are the only online resources that they have.

It would decimate our resources.
Most of the school districts would have only Grolier’s or very little else.
We have had the same budget for 17 years.  Unless the State pays for the databases, I don’t have anything.
There are print resources that I haven’t had to buy because of the databases.

It would have a high impact on our budget.  I would have to buy some of those things. 
The number of books (I buy) in the social sciences is decreasing because of what I can get on databases.
It would create a serious gap in our informational resources; I’d have to cut something else.
In our library the databases affect what I purchase in print.  

I would miss EBSCOHost because I don’t buy a lot of those magazines and newspapers in print.
We couldn’t afford a business database. We don’t buy that because we get that from NOVEL.
We wouldn’t have the business or the health databases.
Databases are important to us; we couldn’t store the back issues of periodicals.
The other thing that would increase is that we’d do a lot more interlibrary loaning for periodical articles.

We wouldn’t find a lot of answers for many of our customers. A lot of questions would go unanswered.
We used to rely on NIOGA for some things we couldn’t afford, but now I have access from the databases.  It used to be “we’ll get back to you,” but now I can get it myself.
It would increase the gap between haves and have-nots.
Equity of access goes down.  NOVEL has achieved some equity.

We just couldn’t support buying the health resources that are in the databases.
There would be a screech about the health databases (being eliminated).
Having Health Reference Center is important.
Our libraries would be devastated, BUT I will say that one of my arguments is that Health Reference Center is based on books and some of the books aren’t brand new. 
We would really miss the health resources.

I would definitely miss the access to the periodicals.
The newspaper databases would be missed.  We’d be shortchanged on the newspapers.

In the college setting we wouldn’t miss it too much because we have some alternatives at Brockport. 
It wouldn’t impact us much, but it would some academic libraries.  Smaller places use it as a base and build on that. 
I’m in the opposite situation.  I’ve cut back and I need the NOVEL databases desperately. I wouldn’t have anything if that wasn’t available.
We worry about this in the long run.
Even tweaking the databases scares people.

I think that we’re going to see more demand for it as new users who are computer literate are growing up.
It would hurt a lot if the NOVEL databases were dropped because we’d lose access to the New York Times.
It’s very useful in academic libraries, but academics wouldn’t be impacted as much; the academics buy a lot of other things.   
The academics would probably be hurt less.
NYU buys just about everything. We wouldn’t miss it much.

For the schools it’s a critical resource.
NOVEL makes me look good to my staff and students.  You’d look bad to the public if you didn’t have those electronic resources.
There’s an assumption of access… it’s a basic resource. Information literacy, the ability to make decisions is key.  People need the information freely available.

We’re trying to get the county and state legislators to use the databases.
That isn’t a one stop shop (training elected officials).  Albany should be training the legislators.
Some people think we don’t need librarians anymore.   We’re doing more reference (in the academic setting) than ever before.
Big financial impact in public libraries
I’d be fine with fewer databases but better quality databases. Most are too simple, especially Searchasaurus.  It’s kind of insulting to the searcher.  Kids are more sophisticated than that.

We had a long discussion about those types of databases.  EBSCO has an image database.    That’s not our constituency.
If you could get Academic Elite and ProQuest Newspapers, you could get rid of everything else.
The content is actually very rich for the elementary level.   I don’t think that it’s as thin at the K-12 level, but it is at the college level. 
For us they’re not the main databases; they’re not as important as some others.
The competitors are better, but what NOVEL has is helpful.

Why do you think some people might choose not to use the databases?
It’s an awareness issue; people don’t know what they are.  In order to get the public in general to be aware, what we’re really looking at is that the databases have to be a universal online library.
Lack of marketing
They don’t know that it’s there.  There isn’t enough information
They don’t know they’re there, but most of us have promoted and promoted and promoted!

Difficulties in searching
Teachers feel students are bypassing the concept of indexing when they use databases; that’s very hard (like not letting kids use calculators before a certain point).  Kids don’t know how to search; they don’t know alternate terms—some databases., Google, and Amazon are good with alternate terms.  I think teachers have to do more to educate students to use synonyms, etc.
When I was teaching basic reference in library school, the hardest thing was teaching controlled vocabulary.  Majority of people don’t seem to get it easily.

For some the articles may be too difficult; some graded health resources would help.  It would be helpful if it gave you some idea of the reading levels required to use and understand the articles there.

There’s an intimidation factor.
You have to choose where you want to go. 

We have a lot of families who don’t go to the library ever.  There are people who don’t value libraries.
People don’t realize that they can ask questions at the reference desk.

Most schools have libraries in them, but librarians in schools need to make the kids learn about public libraries too.
I have school children who aren’t taught how to look for information.
In the public libraries, people aren’t forthcoming.  They don’t want to ask.

You have to have an incentive to use it.  
In academic libraries it’s more the terror of a poor grade that drives the interest!  English departments help us, but in the science departments there’s no help! 
Motivations are important; so when they’re looking for something specific, that’s the best teaching time you’re going to get.  We have a monitor facing out so they can watch me do the search.  You show them how you’re doing it.

The school library media centers and public libraries are more successful than they were because people can find what they’re looking for.  What needs to happen is that we need to find a way to get the Senate and Assembly to support the program.
This is 24/7 access and that’s a very important piece.    It’s especially important up here in this area of New York; this is a big territory and resources are not deep.

When the State Library promoted using driver’s license, via a small newspaper article, some people did come in to use just that database.
For colleges anything with a driver’s license is a no go.   60% of the students are from out of state.
The problem with the driver’s license access is that students don’t have a driver’s license and staff don’t like to have to look for theirs (for the number) when they want to access the databases from home.  They could use their public library card, if they have one, but many kids don’t have.
In terms of marketing, we have subscriptions to other databases as well.  On our system you really don’t know whether you’re using the NOVEL databases or ours.
Process is just too cumbersome.  Driver’s license number is too cumbersome.

There needs to be a marketing campaign. Getting to the public is difficult.  If you’re going to market it, market it in just one way.  Right now people get to it in lots of different ways.  Getting there is difficult.

If there’s any way to make access easier, that would bring people in.  Not having to input the 14 digit bar codes!  Eyes just glaze over and they’re thinking they could do it faster via the Internet.
If would be nice if home users could have a single log in if you hop from database to database.  Why can’t it be the same page?

We have the databases proxied and the kids go directly to them just with their user name and password.

Remote access is the problem for my students.
Many college students don’t have public library cards.  There’s a large area nearby that doesn’t have a public library; it’s an unserved area.
The community college has a web page connection, but students can only use their driver’s license to get in; it doesn’t use our college ID.  So, I’ve done the orientation, but they still can’t get in.

We (public library) have no problems getting in; we do have problems with people not knowing the databases exist, or they’re too uneducated to get it.
You have to do the PR every day; it’s one on one getting people to use the databases.  People have to have a need before they’re interested.

What other resources should be available in this way, electronically?
(Note a number in parenthesis indicates the number of times the specific answer was given.)
Any good encyclopedia  (6)
More genealogical resources, Heritage Quest  (5),  (2)
Learn a test (GED ACT, etc.)  (4)
Literature/Literary analysis  (3)
Legal databases  (3)
Opposing Viewpoints  (3)
Auto repair  (2)
Biographies  (2)

College and career information
Learning Express
Should include some full-text national newspapers, big national ones.
Small business resources would be really nice.
AP photo archive
 “School Island”

PROQUEST Professional
If we can’t get ProQuest, Master File Premiere would be better; more primary documents, more journals
What’s missing are some more college level materials, more on social issues,
Higher level research collections   
A new SUNY Connect arrangement
NY Times backfiles
More New York newspapers; it doesn’t have a lot of the smaller newspapers.
All the historical newspapers

A New York state history database would be helpful.
Social sciences
Reference USA
Something for history and science
High Squared

NOVEL is really weak on academic and research resources.  You can look for the ten biggest medical journals and they’re not there.
It’s strongest at general things.
I would like to suggest some of the OVID publications.  (Electronic journal collections)
There needs to be more segments represented: youth population as a target.   “Lands and Peoples” books
Searchasaurus is very limited.
We get people coming in looking for JOURNALS. They don’t really know what a journal is, but they know that it’s more academic (wanting peer reviewed).

I wouldn’t mind  something you could download to the I-Pod.  Podcasting would lead people to the other resources.
Things for younger students, but not baby stuff.
Should be able to limit by reading level (LEXIL)
Novelist (K-8) would be good.
Gale’s Science Resource Center is very expensive, but it’s coded for reading level.  I’d like to be able to sort by reading level.

I’d like the graphs in for students of all ages.
WorldCat from OCLC
Legal forms
The State should do a survey of libraries asking what they’re paying for and then the State should buy the one(s) most libraries buy; that would free up the most money.

About encyclopedias: we don’t get any usage on any of them, we change every two years.  We’ve tried several, but no one uses them!

(It appeared that children’s departments in many public libraries didn’t have access to NOVEL databases.  Children in those libraries have to go to the reference desk to access databases; some of the libraries do have some databases in the children’s room for kids, provided through an invitational grant. 
One person said, “Children’s librarians haven’t really gotten into the databases; they’re still into their books.  Our young adult librarian seems more open to electronic resources.”)

How would you market the databases to the general public?
As SAFE sources of information!
I came to this meeting to talk about publicity!  There’s no coordinated promotion.
Using print media to publicize is the least effective in promoting the databases; should use podcasting, etc.
We have to market this to legislative staffs; they’re young and it’ll register with them.

It would be good if the state did a statewide campaign, “Did you know that this great stuff is available?”
If the state pursues the marketing of it, that would take away from the amount of money available for content.
It’s a shame to think of the state using the money for advertising.  How do we get credit to those who fund our other resources?
Who are we marketing to?  I had a bunch of guys in; none of them knew the name of a single database. They don’t care who sold it; they care only if it has what they want.
The typical patron comes in with a particular question; it’s the answer to the question that’s important.

Everybody knows what Nike is about!  You have to do that kind of branding.
PA has Access PA; all the school librarians and all the public librarians know the words ACCESS PA.  They have branded that.
Do whatever Google did to make it a household word.

In a small library I’m aware that I should be doing more promotion, but I don’t have the time.
I sometimes feel that I need more signs, but people don’t read signs.  We’re going to try to write something that will introduce them in a catchy way.
I had the best luck ever when I said, “Do you want to get anything from Consumer Reports?”  
The best example that I saw was in Pennsylvania.  The James V. Brown Library had an ad for an auto repair database on a placemat in a bar.  You want to put yourself where they are when they’re looking for information.  Take the car salesman approach.

Getting out where the users are:  you’ve got to sell your importance.   Librarians insisted on getting a kiosk in the middle of the newsroom; made themselves indispensable.  Take it to them rather than waiting for them to come to us.

I also think that we’re in a generational cycle.   I used a rotary phone and a typewriter.  We’re getting more savvy library users today.
One other topic that hits everybody is health.  The Health Reference Center is terrific to show to everyone and everyone has some health problem.

Other issues?
The stats for EBSCO were being counted in the system stats; we don’t have good stats on how the databases are being used at my library.  It’s a real hot button for the system.  I wanted to check on our use of EBSCO Premier, but you can’t!  There’s no normalization of data.  It’s awful.
It has nothing to do with the state library or NOVEL; it’s the vendors!
It screws up our accountability; tracking the stats as a process keeps changing.
(BOCES) the Gale stats are hard to get; I have to go in for each of the 100 schools…

SFX is the product academics use, but it is very labor intensive.
We need an accurate way to count usage; we also need to be able to say how many different people used the databases.
Also should know whether there were multiple searches or it was the right one, a hit on the first one.
Each of us is trying to figure this out.

I’d suggest that a recommendation of this study be that NOVEL require database providers to be counter-compliant (meet an industry standard).
I’d dream that we could get a monthly report via email from the state library saying what’s being used and how much.

Opposing Viewpoints (not on NOVEL) gives me wonderful statistics.
The Gale NOVEL databases provide monthly reports, but only the administrator can get them.
Stats are important in public libraries; almost like circulation statistics.

It is an issue but we solved it by keeping link management software.  We track “click throughs.”  It’s not as accurate, but it gives us a click count of how many times people go to the databases.
At NJIT we had figures on all of the databases.
We are gathering statistics for the first time this year, getting them through the vendors.  That’s the reason that we bought Serials Solutions. 
We’re in the same boat.  We’re in the middle of implementing counter statistics rather than just click-throughs.

Difficulty/Complexity of Use:
Things have to be seamless to the user.  The fact that the protocols for the databases are not standardized makes it difficult.
Odd passwords are difficult for students.
Look more carefully at the interfaces; some are hard for students to use.
Keep the interfaces at a low to moderate literacy level.
I’d emphasize the discrepancy in the web pages from different access points; there’s no public library in my area and kids don’t have driver’s licenses.  I’d like uniformity of appearance of the web pages and a single log in for hopping from database to database. 
Google fixes your misspellings; the databases should too.  Usability is still an issue with the databases; people use Google because they can get some results easily
That’s important in public libraries too. Spelling is a problem for people for whom English is a second language too.
Search strategies are HARD.
When the health database first came out, you could easily choose the level of materials.  Now it’s harder than it was.  Indications of reading levels or complexity levels are good; there used to be some up front links, but that’s all gone.

I’d like an online way to show how to search each database.  That would make people more comfortable in using them.
From an instruction point of view, I’m tired of teaching 100 different searching strategies.
One thing I do like is that the state library’s website access is simpler; it’s well organized for people who don’t use it often.
Don’t completely dumb things down, because there are also sophisticated users out there.

One of our issues is the word ‘database.’ People just blank.  I change it to “we have magazines on the computer.”
Database is a technical concept.  The word database has the connotation of numbers, of data.
The students know the word database, but the general public doesn’t.

The schools use “online information resources” or “online learning resource.”
We call them “electronic resources” and subdivide into books, articles, reference resources, web resources, and class resources.
We say “find articles in newspapers and magazines.”
I just call them electronic gateways.  I describe what they do rather than what they are.

We’ve been rethinking the term; we feature a “RESOURCE” of the month.
We call them “Multi-search”  
I just say, “This is the deep Web”
This fall we created a sheet that explains what an online database is.

We call ours the virtual reference connection.
We decided to put them all in an alphabetical list, but also have listed by subject that includes some free sites (41 subjects, with some databases in more than one subject) 
We have an alphabetic list and subject list; subject comes first, alpha list has description; also have recommended list. 
KNOWLEDGEBASE would be a better term.

Same with NOVEL; people think it must be a list of novels.
NOVEL sounds like fiction and it confuses people.
That’s not a problem for us because nobody calls it NOVEL anyway.
Some people say NOVELL.
Gets mixed up the Novell, also Novelist.
We just say the New York Electronic Library

I don’t use the term NOVEL with the public; it’s meaningless to the public.
The good thing is that the name has been out there for awhile.
It makes library advocacy hard when things aren’t given credit.

I don’t use the word NOVEL.   We’ve gone round and round on our website about what words to use.  The result has been that we keep changing the word.
Empire Link was understandable; the acronym NOVEL doesn’t say what it is.
PA  has PowerLibrary; that defines what it is. 

The name could go away.  It’s important that there’s a name, but I’m not sure it’s important to push that to the users.  It’s not important that they know that.  They just come to the reference desk and want information…

Only reason (for the name) is for marketing, but there’s no marketing that I see.  “Your tax dollars working for you!  Databases are important and the money comes from you!”
Branding is important from a taxpayer standpoint.  We need to get people to value libraries.

Federated searching:
There are some very different user populations (types of libraries) in the State and very different approaches to searching.
The teachers that have seen Gale federated searching love it, but it will cloud some things for kids as to where they get information.
A lot of our students don’t have any idea of what they’re getting when they search; the concept gets lost.   Part of the charge of the schools is to teach information literacy.
Some of the assignments that we see require peer reviewed journals. 

In a public library, if there are too any results and if people don’t see something in the first page, they lose interest. 
Federated searching is a double edged sword.  People want one-stop shopping, but often federated searching gets you something other than the best results; the indexes are different.
That’s true, but most end users don’t care.  The public will take the fastest, good-enough thing that they can get.

If they promote federated searching, it has to integrate with our other databases.  You can’t have people going multiple places.
Allowing different databases to be integrated (or disintegrated) from federated searches is important.  Let us pick the ones that we want included in our federated searching.
Buy more content instead.  Federated searching seems to be a poor way to spend our limited resources.
Instead of the federated searching, just have more full text content. We want the full text.

There are whole states that are using Encompass to search across multiple catalogs.  You get a more seamless look at the information.  But that can be overwhelming.
I would like the federated searching through the library as an option.
The technology’s not there yet.  It excludes a significant number of resources.
You lose a lot of the ability of the native products.
The nursing CINAHL users would lose a lot.

If one of our students wants something, but they’re not exactly sure, I send them to a general MasterFILE search. Our compromise is the open URL link.  I would rather see NOVEL go in the direction of open URL rather than get bogged down in federated searching.  Open URL is going to get easier; it’s probably a money thing.

Final say?  Anything else you’d like to add or share?
To me the biggest stumbling block is the easy access.  People should find them as easy to use as Google. 
Ease of use is important; simplify the help screens.  Simplify the spelling:  “did you mean?”  Like Google.
Have one password.

Remote access is definitely an issue.
It has been very satisfying to provide information to people who wouldn’t get the information otherwise.  We have college students who can get it locally rather than going hundreds of miles to their school.

We need to keep in mind that in the five largest cities we have a lot of challenged learners.  We need to keep in mind that in marketing to these people we’d need to make sure they can connect.
We’re missing the adolescents.  When you look at the databases, what’s missing is the stuff that they’re interested in.

There are definitely two tiers:  ready reference and then the deeper stuff.  We need to train and market them differently.
The accent should be on content.  We need a list of the journals.  Which database is it in?

I don’t want all of our comments to be translated into the idea that we don’t want these resources.

My basic plea is an Oliver Twist “more please.” 
Education and outreach are most important.  Begin at the government level; get more money and then the libraries need to go out and promote the tools.

Even my schools that have a lot of resources are cutting more and more.  Having the resources for all is very important for equity.
Equity of access issue is huge.
Literacy is a huge concern, online resources for all of the literacy needs.
I’d like an easier walk through, more intuitive structure for searching.

It’s just a treasure for small libraries, the most fantastic gift.  It was wonderful to know the databases make us a bigger library.

Specifically I find that the school and the public library aren’t on the same page; they need to work together and look more alike.
Having this available to all libraries of all types reinforces the use if schools, publics, college have the same thing.  There are greater overall educational purposes that are served.

I love the NOVEL help desk people. They’re wonderful.  They’ve been very good even to my staff.
The State should take credit for this.  Let everybody know their tax dollars are paying for this.

I would like to see NOVEL implement some sort of system for individual libraries to upgrade a particular piece… Pay the difference. Vendors are increasingly wiling to take your money if they can limit access.

I believe that it all depends on the general public.   They have to understand how important the resources are.  It has to come from the general public if the legislature is going to fund it.

I think that it is cost effective to work together; many of us purchase the same things.  We can’t do that anymore; we’re just lining the pockets of the database vendors.

We need better balanced resources.   While we may use what’s there, there should be balance in what’s provided.  There are lots of gaps; I’d like to see more for K-12.  Having it available from the State makes it far more equitable.

Provide digital streaming statewide
We get a lot of requests for full text articles.  An abstract or an index doesn’t cut it.

 The State Library has to consider the needs of schools and children in general.  Seniors at my public library use electronic resources primarily for email and investment information.
NOVEL databases are wonderful, but we need to stress getting library staff to use them and to keep up; it’s amazing how much more the databases get used when you don’t have the reference books.

Definitely need to market: I like idea of vendor marketing too like for drugs.  We’re teachers; we work with the people we can.  Need PR on what we can do.  Vendor asked me if I’d gone to college—I was shocked!  We all go to specialists!  (We should market our expertise!)

Most of our patrons want to be served; they don’t want to look for themselves.  The most receptive people are high school students and people with a specific need.
New York is far behind other states in cooperative purchasing, behind even poorer states.  State funds have to be put into the databases.  We have WALDO (buying consortium), but we need state contracts for the databases.

I find the NOVEL information on the State Library website very confusing and repetitive. It’s a matter of too much information. It’s not very clear if they’re talking to consumers or to librarians.
And people don’t want a banner that takes up the entire screen.

I think that there’s a lot of merit in the program. I think that they will get money for the databases from the State legislature eventually.  It’s another way for the State to subsidize libraries.  It’s a sexy issue.  It’s an easier sell than libraries themselves.
NOVEL databases shouldn’t be on federal dollars.

If you’re looking at developing technologies, you have to look at the ways in which those technologies are deployed.   Silos within silos… (don’t divide the databases into groups for schools, publics, and academics)

I have a story to share: we got a grant that gave us a laptop lab.  The basis of the grant was every student in 6th grade would do a research paper.  A couple days later a teacher called and said we’re down here doing social studies.  Can’t we just go to the databases? The information is so much better.

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Last Updated: June 3, 2009