Students' natural use of language for academic library concepts

Fitchett, Deborah Students' natural use of language for academic library concepts., 2006 MLIS research project thesis, Victoria University of Wellington. [Thesis]

StudentsNaturalUseOfLanguage.pdf - Submitted version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (607kB) | Preview
[img] Other (Dataset from Appendix B (csv))
StudentsNaturalUseOfLanguage-AppendixB.csv - Supplemental material
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (5kB)
[img] Other (Dataset from Appendix C (csv))
StudentsNaturalUseOfLanguage-AppendixC.csv - Submitted version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (21kB)

English abstract

Library jargon is a barrier to users in their interactions with library staff and systems. Comprehension testing has shown that many students do not understand common library jargon. Usability testing and preference testing have successfully sought user feedback in order to develop more user-friendly interfaces. In this study into language preferences, a questionnaire was based on 20 concepts taken from New Zealand university library websites. Participants were asked to label these concepts with terms of their own choosing. New Zealand university summer school coordinators were asked to forward a URL for the web-based questionnaire to students in their classes. Fifty valid responses were received. Concepts that were central to students' library experiences were labelled with as few as 4 different terms, while less central concepts were labelled with more than 30. Library jargon was an important influence on students' choice of terminology. For many concepts, however, students used terms that had not been found on library websites. Further research is recommended into a broader range of concepts, and into whether user-derived terminology outperforms library jargon in whole-library context usability testing.

Item type: Thesis (UNSPECIFIED)
Keywords: library jargon, preference testing, academic libraries
Subjects: B. Information use and sociology of information > BI. User interfaces, usability.
C. Users, literacy and reading. > CB. User studies.
Depositing user: Deborah Fitchett
Date deposited: 03 Jul 2013 13:57
Last modified: 02 Oct 2014 12:26


Allen, B. L. (1996). Information tasks: Toward a user-centered approach to information systems. San Diego: Academic Press.

Allen, M. (2002). A case study of the usability testing of the University of South Florida's virtual library interface design. Online Information Review, 26(1), 40- 53.

Auckland City Libraries. (c. 2005). Auckland City Libraries - Home. Retrieved January 25, 2006, from

Auckland University of Technology Library. (2005, December 20). AUT - Library Home. Retrieved January 23, 2006, from

Brophy, P. (1993). What's in a name? New Library World, 94(1108), 27-29.

Brophy, P., email, December 17, 2005.

Budd, J. M. (1995). User-centered thinking: lessons from reader-centered theory. RQ, 34(4), 487-496.

Caña, M. B., Cueto, Q. L. G. G., De Guzman, A. B., Fuchigami, K. B., Manalo, L. R. T., & Yu, J. C. U. (2005). Clientele recognition of library terms and concepts used by librarians: A case of an academic library in the Philippines. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 37(4), 195-204.

Chaudhry, A. S., & Choo, M. (2001). Understanding of library jargon in the information-seeking process. Journal of Information Science, 27(5), 343-349.

Christchurch City Libraries. (c. 2006). Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved January 25, 2006, from

Cobus, L., Dent, V. F., & Ondrusek, A. (2005). How twenty-eight users helped redesign an academic library web site: A usability study. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 44(3), 232-246.

Cockrell, B. J., & Jayne, E. A. (2002). How do I find an article? Insights from a Web usability study. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 28(3), 122-132.

Compton, N. J. (1926). Library Language. American Speech, 2(2), 93-95.

Cook, P. (1941). Informal Library Language. American Speech, 16(4), 310-311.

Crawford, W. (1987). Speaking the language. LITA Newsletter, 30, 19-20.

Dickstein, R., & Mills, V. (2000). Usability testing at the University of Arizona Library: How to let the users in on the design. Information Technology and Libraries, 19(3), 144-151.

Duncan, V., & Fichter, D. M. (2004). What words and where? Applying usabiliity testing techniques to name a new live reference service. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 92(2), 218-225.

Dunedin Public Libraries. (2006, January 25). Home - Dunedin Public Libraries. Retrieved January 25, 2006, from

Finegan, E., Besnier, N., Blair, D., & Collins, P. (1992). Language: its structure and use. Sydney: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Granello, D. H., & Wheaton, J. E. (2004). Online data collection: strategies for research. Journal of Counseling & Development, 82, 387-393.

Griffiths, J. R., & Brophy, P. (2005). Student searching behavior and the web: use of academic resources and Google. Library Trends, 53(4), 539-554.

Hamilton Libraries. (c. 2006). Hamilton Libraries -- Quick Selection Menu. Retrieved January 25, 2006, from

Hutcherson, N. B. (2004). Library jargon: student recognition of terms and concepts commonly used by librarians in the classroom. College & Research Libraries, 65(4), 349-354.

Intner, S. S. (2003). Words I love to hate. Technicalities, 23(3), 7-9.

Jackson, W. J. (1984). The user-friendly library guide. College & Research Libraries News, 45(9), 468-471.

Jiao, Q. G., & Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (1997). Antecedents of library anxiety. Library Quarterly, 67(4), 372-399.

Kamhi-Stein, L. D., & Stein, A. P. (1999). Teaching information competency as a third language: A new model for library instruction. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 38(2), 173-179.

Lincoln University Library. (2005, June 30). Library Home Page - Lincoln University. Retrieved January 23, 2006, from

Massey University Library. (2006, January 19). Massey University Library. Retrieved January 23, 2006, from

Mellon, C. A. (1986). Library anxiety: a grounded theory and its development. College & Research Libraries, 160-165.

Morgan, K. A., & Reade, T. (2002). Competing vocabularies and 'research stuff'. Journal of Internet Cataloging, 5(4), 81-95.

Mulhall, K. J., Ahmed, A., & Masterson, E. (2002). The "doctor-customer" relationship: Hippocrates in the modern marketplace. International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, 15(1), 9-10.

Naismith, R. (1996). Reference communication: Commonalities in the worlds of medicine and librarianship. College & Research Libraries, 57(1), 44-57.

Naismith, R., & Stein, J. (1989). Library jargon: student comprehension of technical language used by librarians. College & Research Libraries, 50(5), 543-552.

Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Jiao, Q. G., & Bostick, S. L. (2004). Library anxiety: Theory, research, and applications. Lanham: Scarecrow Press.

Palmerston North City Library. (c. 2006). Palmerston North City Library. Retrieved January 25, 2006, from

Pemberton, A., & Fritzler, P. (2004). The language barrier: Don't let library lingo get in the way of learning. College & Research Libraries News, 65(3), 154-155.

Redfern, V. (2004). Natural language thesaurus: a survey of student research skills and research tool preferences. Australian Academic and Research Libraries, 35(2), 137-150.

Reynolds, L., & Barrett, S. (1981). Signs and guiding for libraries. London: Clive Bingley.

Roca, J., & Nord, R. (2001). Usability study of the MnLINK Gateway. OCLC Systems and Services, 17(1), 26-33. Retrieved November 26, 2005 from ProQuest.

Shapiro, F. R. (1989). Contributions to the history of library terminology. Library Quarterly, 59(2), 95-115.

Shoham, S., & Mizrachi, D. (2001). Library anxiety among undergraduates: A study of Israeli B.Ed students. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 27(4), 305-311.

Travis, T. A., & Norlin, E. (2002). Testing the competition: Usability of commercial information sites compared with academic library web sites. College & Research Libraries, 63(5), 433-448.

University of Auckland Library. (2005). LEARN - The University of Auckland Library. Retrieved January 23, 2006, from

University of Canterbury Library. (2006). Library - University of Canterbury. Retrieved January 23, 2006, from

University of Otago Library. (2006, January 19). Library, University of Otago. Retrieved January 23, 2006, from

University of Waikato Library. (2005, April 23). The University of Waikato Library - Te Whare Pukapuka. Retrieved January 23, 2006, from

Victoria University of Wellington. (2005a, July 26). Closed Reserves. Retrieved January 31, 2006, from Victoria University of Wellington. (2005b, November 11). The Library, Victoria

University of Wellington. Retrieved January 23, 2006, from

Wellingon City Libraries. (2006, February 10). Wellington City Libraries: Website Homepage. Retrieved February 12, 2006, from

Winograd, T. (1977). A framework for understanding discourse. In M. A. Just & P. A.

Carpenter (Eds.), Cognitive processes in comprehension (pp. 63-88). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Young, H., & Belanger, T. (1983). The ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science. Chicago: American Library Association.


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item