Library usability in the 20th century?
April 2, 2013 12:21 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations for articles / books on library usability research in the past?

MeFi librarians: I'm looking for recommendations of articles or books that provide insights into how librarians thought about and studied the usability of library tools (e.g. indexes, pathfinders, card catalogs, and their pre-21st century digital equivalents), buildings, signage, or patron services ca. 1900-1990.

I'm especially interested in any resources that discuss this in the context of larger trends in, and constraints on, the profession. If this is part of a larger, more comprehensive, work of library history, that's fine.

I have a few leads, but am curious to know what you've found compelling, detailed, and insightful.
posted by ryanshepard to Society & Culture (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
These might be interesting. Note: I have not read any of these.

Information use studies. comparison of some recent surveys By: BARNES, R. C. M.; Barnes, R. C. M.. Journal of Documentation, September 1965, Vol. 21, p169-176, 8p; DOI: 10.1108/eb026363

Information use studies. past results and future needs By: FISHENDEN, R. M.; Fishenden, R. M.. Journal of Documentation, September 1965, Vol. 21, p163-168, 6p; DOI: 10.1108/eb026362

Jayne Culver Tobin, A study of library “use studies”, Information Storage and Retrieval, Volume 10, Issues 3–4, March–April 1974, Pages 101–113,

Use of Library Materials: The University of Pittsburgh Study. 1979

Some Behavioral Patterns of Library Users: The 80/20 Rule
Authors: Trueswell, Richard L.
Source: Wilson Libr Bull, 43, 5, 458-461, 1969 Jan
posted by jokrausdu at 3:00 PM on April 2, 2013

I don't know that it says anything about usability per se, but you might find Klaus Musmann's "Technological Innovations in Libraries, 1860-1960: An Anecdotal History" of interest, if for nothing else than the references.
posted by bevedog at 4:09 PM on April 2, 2013

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