The evaluation of real-world digital libraries : a case at the Loughborough University Library
Evaluation is a crucial step for the development and improvements of digital libraries. Unfortunately, nowadays only few studies are focused on this matter and even fewer concentrate on how evaluation is conducted in real-world digital libraries. The study contributes to the research presenting the results of a qualitative case study conducted at the Loughborough University Library, based on data collected from eleven semi-structured interviews and document analysis. It reports how evaluation is conducted in a real-world digital library, which are the knowledge and competences of the staff in charge of performing it, which are the obstacles and barriers encountered by the staff and it examines what happens after the conclusion of the evaluation, in particular how results and recommendations are turned to profitable account. The research also aims to act as source of references for researchers who want to investigate this field further. The collected data were analyzed trough constant comparative process and seven main categories matching the research objectives were identified and discussed: definition of evaluation by the interviewees, conceptual purpose of evaluation according to the interviewees, training on evaluation by the interviewees, problems, time constrains, resources, cooperation within the group, individual attitude, project planning, project development, how implement actions from recommendations, dissemination of results, sections taken to implement the recommendations, impact of evaluation projects. Recommendations for the Loughborough University Library and indications for further investigations are also discussed. The research confirms that currently the knowledge about how real-world-digital libraries deals with evaluation are insufficient and it raises several new and controversial questions, which should force the scientific community to investigate deeper the reality of digital library.