Author Archives: Andrew Asher

“Discovery” Systems and Algorithmic Culture

Understanding “discovery”—the processes through which people locate previously unknown information—is a critical issue for academic libraries and librarians as they endeavor to provide and make accessible materials for students, faculty members, and other library users.  Until relatively recently, people seeking information at an academic library were typically faced with a myriad of confusing catalogs, indexes, and databases, each with a different topical coverage, organizational structure and search interface.  For people increasingly accustomed to Google’s simple search interface and natural language functionality, the “cognitive load” of siloing information in this way can be extremely high.  Library discovery systems were developed to address this problem.  By creating a centralized index of a library’s resources, these tools allow a user to simultaneously query almost all of a library’s holdings via a single Google-style search box. Along with my colleagues Lynda Duke and Suzanne Wilson, I recently completed a research study examining how undergraduate (more...)