In my October 19th entry, I discussed the tutorial that I was creating for staff at Halifax Public Libraries. This tutorial focussed on our kids’ catalogue, known as KidSearch. I now have the feedback from my tutorial.
Prior to this tutorial, I was concerned with some of the informal and second-hand feedback I was receiving about the kids’ catalogue. Some staff felt that the catalogue was not successfully serving its purpose, while others were leaning toward the removal of this catalogue altogether.
With the three year mark having just passed in the implementation of the kids’ catalogue, I felt that a full report, including a survey, might be necessary to properly evaluate the success of this catalogue and its future.
Prior to conducting a staff survey however, I was approached to create and conduct a tutorial for the kids’ catalogue that would be delivered to all public supervisors and readers’ advisors. The results of this tutorial were very positive.
Out of all of the evaluations that were returned, only one staff member indicated that they saw no need for the kids’ catalogue. Many readers’ advisors were pleasantly surprised with the features of the catalogue and were very excited to begin using it to its fullest extent. This includes promoting the reading lists included on the site to parents and teachers and searching in the catalogue because it retrieves materials only included in the Children’s collection.
What impressed me was the depth of feedback and careful consideration staff put into their evaluation forms.
There was one comment regarding the exclusion of YA materials in the catalogue’s searches. YA materials are not included in search results in KidSearch because the primary purpose of the children’s catalogue is to target the 6 to 10 age group and beginning or young readers. This is exhibited through its image-based and simplified appearance.
Some of the comments were also very helpful regarding changes that should be considered for the catalogue. An example of one of these changes deals with the default search on the main page. From staff comments, it can be concluded that a title search or more advanced keyword search may be preferred over the current anyword search. Also, there was a comment about searching in the search history.. The staff member was concerned that terms in the search history defaulted to the main page of the kids’ catalogue, rather than recalling previous search results. After attempting several other searches, I received the same result. This is something that has only now been brought to our attention and is extremely helpful feedback. Some suggestions may be more difficult to implement as we are restricted by the capability of the software.
Providing staff with an opportunity to suggest the contents of the reading lists will help create a collaborative environment surrounding the use of the kids’ catalogue. Many staff members were very excited about this ability to share information and ideas. I believe this will make staff less afraid of the behind the scenes “mystique” in the library catalogue.
Overall, I believe the KidSearch tutorial provided us with some very helpful feedback. Although not well used in the past, it appears as if the main reason was a lack of understanding regarding how the kids’ catalogue was laid out and the features that it exhibits. Also an inhibiter was the overall lack of knowledge regarding how to search this catalogue and the various searching capabilities. Most of the comments suggested that the kids’ catalogue is useful and of significant value to the library.
This tutorial has also assisted me in the direction of my report on the catalogue. I now have a greater understanding of how staff feel about the catalogue and what the barriers were in not using the catalogue in the past. As a result, the survey portion of my report has been altered, and the length and depth of the survey can be minimized.
All in all, the tutorial was a great success. I received a lot of feedback about the catalogue and was able to market the catalogue to staff through educating them about the catalogue. The knowledge and skill set they have now obtained will carry over to the public and, in all likelihood, boost the usage of the kids’ catalogue among staff and patrons.