The world wide web and libraries: From searchinterface to bibliographic instructionMICHAEL KREYCHE1AbstractThe World Wide Web is rapidly being adopted by libraries and databasevendors as a front end for bibliographic databases, reflecting the factthat the Web browser is becoming a universal tool. When the Web is alsoused for bibliographic instruction about these Web-based resources, it ispossible to build tutorials incorporating actual screens from a database.The result is a realistic, highly interactive simulation of database searchingthat can provide a very detailed level of instruction.KEY WORDS: bibliographic instruction; tutorials; web interface; onlinecatalogs; bibliographic databases1. IntroductionThere is no doubt in my mind that the most important computing innovation of this decade is the World Wide Web. I can remember learningabout the World Wide Web in the early 1990s, and I was not veryi impressed by it. The only way to access it then was to log into a computerin Switzerland, so it was not very different than logging into a traditional computer system, to use an online catalog, for example. The new interface made it easy to move from one document to another using hyperlinks, but the fact is, all the documents looked pretty much alike. Theywere all displayed using the traditional grid of the dumb terminal inter-'Assistant Professor, Libraries and Media Services, Kent. State University, PO BOX 5190, Kent OH44242-0001, USA, [email protected]

The world wide web and libraries: From search interface to bibliographic instructionface: 24 lines on the screen with 80 characters per line. All thecharacters were the same color, white on a black background, or greenon a black background, or some other simple combination of colorsdepending on the capabilities of the terminal or terminal emulationsoftware. Because of the constraints imposed by the terminal interfaceI found it very easy to get lost among the documents on this earlyversion of the Web.All of this changed dramatically within a year or two after theintroduction of a program called Mosaic. Mosaic was a radicallydifferent Web client, or browser, because it was designed to run on adesktop computer that communicated directly with the Web serverswhere the documents were stored. More importantly, the desktopcomputers were capable of displaying a wide range of colors, differentfonts and font styles, and graphic images as well as text. This made itpossible to construct documents for the World Wide Web that weremore pleasing to the eye, more distinguishable from each other, andricher in content.Just as important as the graphical browser, but less commonlyacknowledged, was another innovation introduced by the creators ofMosaic. This was the Common Gateway Interface (CGI) specification,which defined a method of communication between Web servers andexternal programs. This technology made possible a much higher levelof interactivity than simple hyperlinks.Mosaic was the beginning of a revolution, and the browsers we usetoday are its direct descendants. Because of this revolution, the WorldWide Web has become a popular medium for publishing and retrievinginformation of all kinds, for buying and selling, and for instruction.And consequently the Web browser has become a universal tool, usedfor doing almost any kind of work online.2. Library web interfacesLibraries were quick to see the advantages of the Web, first for helpingtheir users learn about library resources, and soon after that to actuallydeliver library services. Today libraries are using Web interfaces foronline catalogs, encyclopedias, journal indexes, article deliverysystems, full text databases, full text databases, online reservematerials, and requests for interlibrary loans. Some examples fromKent State University (KSU) follow.398

MICHAEL KREYCHEFigure 1. Kent State University Online Public Access CatalogPerhaps most important is the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC)(Figure 1), which includes links to a number of other direct, Webbased services, most of them embedded in the OP AC. "ResearchDatabases" is an important category, primarily consisting of resourcesoffered by the OhioLINK consortium of which KSU is a part.OhioLINK's commitment to move away from terminal-based to Webbased interfaces is unequivocal. A year ago OhioLINK offered fiftyfour databases, and only seven of them had no HTML interface; mostof the rest had both Web- and terminal-based interfaces. Today thereare over sixty databases, and only a dozen of them have an option for aterminal-based interfaces.This trend was solidified by the decision to develop a standardOhioLINK Web interface for all databases, licensing data from avariety of vendors and mounting it on OhioLINK computers using asingle com-399

The world wide web and libraries: From search interface to bibliographic instructionmercial search engine. Until recently OhioLINK had been using twodifferent methods for providing database access: licensing data andmounting it on the Innovative Interfaces platform and licensing accessto vendor-maintained servers.Among the other Web services offered by the Libraries is acommercial product called ERes, an online reserves system (Figure 2).Figure 2. Electronic Reserves system at Kent State University.Library staff use ERes to create a virtual reserves desk consisting ofdigitized images of articles and excerpts from books, collections ofhyperlinks related to course topics, and other material that professorsmaj submit, such as lecture notes and sample exams. The material isorganized by course and professor, and is pass worded to limit accessto students enrolled in a specific class.Other Web-based services have been developed within the library. Thefirst is a form for submitting interlibrary loan requests. This is a simple400

MICHAEL KREYCHECGI application that consists of two forms, the first requesting the borrower's personal data (Figure 3). The second form is for bibliographicdata for the requested item, which is displayed after the requestoracknowledges a copyright statement. In this case the CGI programaccepts the form data, reformats it into an email message, and sends itto the Interlibrary Loan department.A second example of a library-developed CGI application, this oneconsiderably more complicated, is a full text archive of the university'sstudent newspaper (Figure 4).Figure 3. Interlibrary Loan Request Form.It is taken for granted today that the online resources illustrated hereare hosted on three different types of computers-and it makesabsolutely no difference to the people using them. Ten years ago thiskind of interoperability was only a dream. Now decisions about whathardware platform to use for hosting a database are made on the basisof technical convenience and efficiency. There is no need to take intoaccount the kind of hardware the end user has, as long as it is capableof running a browser program and is connected to the Internet.401

The world wide web and libraries: From search interface to bibliographic instructionThe transition from the terminal interface to the Web interface is happening very quickly. Two or three years ago commercial onlinevendors were providing Web interfaces as an extra feature. Now it istaken for granted, and by the year 2000 I expect the dumb terminalinterface to be nearly obsolete.3. Bibliographic instructionI think most people will agree that the World Wide Web has made iteasier to use computers and to access information on the Internet. Butthe fact remains that databases such as online catalogs aresophisticated-tools. They may be simple to use for basic functions, butthey can be difficult to master. Likewise libraries themselves can bedifficult to use; there are many kinds of services and resources, and it'snot always easy for the library patron to know how to start looking forsomething. So even with the World Wide Web some form ofbibliographic instruction is needed.As mentioned before, the Web has become a popular medium forteaching, and many professors have created Web pages for the coursesthey teach. The pages may include a syllabus, a list of assignments andreadings, lecture notes, quizzes, and links to Web sites related to thesubject of the course. In a few universities professors are even requiredto have a Web page for each course. In other universities some coursesare taught entirely over the Web, with online discussion replacingdirect classroom interaction.402

MICHAEL KREYCHEFigure 4. Full-Text Archive Based on CGI and a Commercial SearchEngineBut more commonly the Web is used for short, self-contained tutorialson a specific topic. Most of these are on technical, computer-relatedtopics-for example, how to write a Web page, or how to install anetwork-but there are examples of libraries developing such tutorialsfor bibliographic instruction. A number of these will be cited here withcomments on their interactivity.The first example is PLUTO, the Purdue Libraries Universal TutorialOnline', which is a fairly comprehensive tutorial on using THOR,Purdue University's online catalog, and finding materials in the library.The tutorial is primarily text based, but includes some graphic screenshots of THOR's terminal-based interface. A similar example is theLibrary Explorer on the Web2 at the University of Iowa. The LibraryExplorer is'http://www.lib. html

The world wide web and libraries: From search interface to bibliographic instructiona thorough bibliographic instruction tutorial, again mostly text-based,but the portion relating to the online catalog is illustrated at each stepin the searching process with screen shots from the catalog (Figure 5).In both cases the interactivity of the tutorials is primarily provided bynavigational controls, augmented by hyperlinks to definitions of termsor related topics.Figure 5. The Library Explorer on the Web, University of IowaSome other tutorials are teach the use of Web-based resources. Thelibrary at the University of California, Berkely provides its patrons alot of guidance in searching the Internet3. In addition to providingdiscipline-specific guides to searching the Internet, there is anextensive tutorial on searching the Web. It includes a section thatexplains meta-search engines (search tools that pass a search tomultiple search engines such as Altavista, Infoseek, Excite, etc.) andeven provides a built-in form for submitting such searches. There arealso sections on individual ides/Internet/FindInfo.html404

MICHAEL KREYCHEengines which make use of screen shots for illustration and incorporateabundant hyperlinks, but they are primarily textual.The library at Oklahoma State University provides a number Webbased guides and tutorials. One tutorial covers ProQuest Direct4, and issimilar to the Berkeley tutorial in appearance, though it is muchnarrower in scope. It has an additional element of interactivity that isan alternative to direct navigation. Instructional text accompanied by ascreen shot is followed by a series of optional multiple-choicequestions on the material. Correct answers permit students to proceedwith the tutorial while incorrect answers provide feedback that ishyperlinked to the text that explains the concept behind the question.The library at the University of Northern Colorado takes a somewhatdifferent approach in its Library Tutor5 (Figure 6). Its aim is to teachthe concepts behind researching and writing a paper rather thanspecific library tools. The Library Tutor is an online worksheet thatguides a student through the process of narrowing a sample topic,selecting research tools, identifying sources, finding materials in thelibrary, and evaluating sources. For each step in the process it providesa brief description, optional details, and field to record the studentsdecisions and findings. At the end of the page there is a button tosubmit the students' work to a librarian.4http://www.libra 5

The world wide web and libraries: From search interface to bibliographic instructionFigure 6. The Library Tutor at Northern Colorado University.4. KSU tutorialAbout a year and a half ago some of us at Kent State began discussingthe possibility of developing a Web-based tutorial for bibliographicinstruction. The clearest need was for an introduction to the basiclibrary tools-the catalog and periodical indexes. For many years theKSU Libraries have had some kind of bibliographic instructionprogram to introduce these tools to first-year students. At one time theinstruction consisted of a lecture delivered by a reference librarianduring one session of the first-semester English course, which includedan assignment to write a research paper using sources found in thelibrary.With a number of budget cuts over the years, the number of librariansavailable for these lectures became so small that it was no longerpractical to provide this level of instruction. Besides, there was agrowing reluctance on the part of the English faculty to give up a classsession for bibliographic instruction. Consequently, when theuniversity introduced a mandatory orientation class for all first-yearstudents, the bibliographic instruction program was incorporated intoit. This class is taught by two406

MICHAEL KREYCHEpeople, one of them a member of the faculty in the student'sdepartment, and the other a student, usually in the third or fourth year.The course covers many different topics, including time management,study habits, services and activities available on campus, and selectinga career.Until this year the bibliographic instruction remained in a lectureformat, delivered by one of the two instructors. The lecture materialand a written assignment, however, were prepared by a librarian. Thepurpose of the lecture was to teach the students how to search a topicin the online catalog, identify a book on the topic, and find it in thelibrary; and to repeat the process for an article in the PeriodicalAbstracts database.One of the reference librarians and I have developed a Web-based tutorial to replace the lecture. The goal of the Web tutorial is to improvethe consistency and the quality of the bibliographic instruction. Thefact that the lectures were prepared by one person and delivered byanother was a bit of a problem. Sometimes the lecture was well done;at other time it was less effective. For example, the instructor may nothave understood the material very well or may not have been veryinterested in it. This was especially true if the faculty instructordecided to let the student instructor deliver the lecture.Figure 7. Navigating the Library.407

The world wide web and libraries: From search interface to bibliographic instructionThe online tutorial, called Navigating the Library6, is designed to be asinteractive as possible. Rather than relying on extensive explanatorytext, it creates a controlled environment that reproduces the look andfeel of the databases (Figure 7) while guiding the students' actions andintercepting any mistakes. When the student understands the pointbeing made and performs the desired action, the tutorial proceeds tothe next step; if the student makes mistake, the tutorial providescorrective feedback instead of permitting the student to wander off ona tangent (Figure 8). Since the tutorial uses essentially the same HTMLthat is used in the actual database, the screens that the students see andinteract with are identical in appearance with those in the database.The functionality of the screens, though, has been modified toserve"the"instructional purposes of the tutorial, and only simulates theoperation of the database engines. This level of realism is only possiblebecause the catalog, the database, and the tutorial all share the samemedium-HTML, the language of the World Wide Web.Figure 8. Corrective feedback in Navigating the Library.''

MICHAEL KREYCHEThis technique requires modification of every hyperlink and button onthe screens taken from the online databases. The intended or "correct"actions lead to the next screen of the tutorial, while all others produce amessage indicating the nature of the student's mistake. Some times it isonly necessary to change a hyperlink, but in order to produce pop-updialog boxes a scripting language is necessary. The action of form buttons can be modified using CGI techniques, but scripting is muchsimpler and just as effective. Using a scripting language within theWeb pages also means that the tutorial can be implemented on anyWeb server since CGI programs frequently require some degree ofmodification when moved from one platform to another.5. ConclusionsLast year a prototype of Navigating the Library was introduced toabout 15 groups of students during the fall semester, and a slightlymodified design was tested with a similar number of students duringthe spring semester. This fall the tutorial is being fully deployed in allsections of the orientation class, reaching all of KSU's nearly 3000 firstyear students.Navigating the Library has received generally favorable commentsfrom both students and instructors. I believe the Web tutorial achievesits goals of improving bibliographic instruction in several ways. Firstof all, the tutorial is interactive-instead of simply listening to a lectureor reading instruction, the student is required to take action. Thisreduces the boredom and confusion that was evident with the lectureformat. Because students work independently at their own pace, theirtime is much better spent-some can complete the tutorial in 15 or 20minutes while others need 30 or 40. The instructors make better use oftheir time as well. Instead of using the entire class period delivering alecture that is targeted at the "average" student, they answer individualquestions and help the students who need it the most.Some possible enhancements for Navigating the Library includeadding a virtual tour of the library, and incorporating the assignmentinto the tutorial so that it is completed online instead of on paper.409

desktop computer that communicated directly with the Web servers where the documents were stored. More importantly, the desktop computers were capable of displaying a wide range of colors, different fonts and font styles, and graphic images as well as text. This made it possible to construct documents for the World Wide Web that were