|dc.description.abstract||Based on our experience as reference librarians and a review of the literature, it is clear that students are choosing to use Google over library databases when beginning their search for information. Reasons such as ease of access and navigation, convenience, and the use of natural language without having to apply rules of searching are mentioned by library users. And while the search results may not be the most relevant, they are often “good enough” for the novice searcher. For our study at the University of Kansas Libraries, we observed and compared how undergraduate students searched for information using Google and an academic library database on specific topics. In particular, we were interested in knowing:• which interface was preferred by students (Google or licensed database; basic or advanced)?
• were the students satisfied with the results of their searches?
• which features did they use, if any?We identified a small group of undergraduate students and used a pre-observation survey to collect demographics and gauge prior searching experience. The students were asked to search for information on specific topics, using Academic Search Premier (an EBSCO product) and Google. Data were collected through observation, interviews, and use of Morae software installed on the computer. Before they began searching, we encouraged the students to verbalize the steps they were taking throughout their search process. This enabled us to gain additional insights into their techniques or strategies. After the searches were completed, a post-observation “de-briefing” session was conducted with the students to allow us to gather additional comments or questions about their experiences or preferences. Observations from the survey will be shared with reference and instruction staff to provide a better understanding of undergraduate search behavior and possibly to modify pre-conceived notions of how students search. The survey can provide a basis for discussions on meeting expectations of information seekers who have grown up with the Internet and how to do a better job in marketing the library’s licensed resources to undergraduate students. Database vendors could be encouraged to develop interfaces that are more familiar and user friendly or Google-like in its searching mechanisms.||