Library catalog and databases more useful than Google

In our end of quarter surveys of freshmen, we asked them:

How useful were the following tools for finding resources for your research paper assignment?
(0=did not use, 1=Not at all useful, 2=A little useful, 3=Useful, 4=Very useful)

  • Google
  • Wikipedia
  • Socrates (Library Catalog)
  • Library Databases
  • Google Scholar
  • Online Class Research Guide

The Results

Most Used resources:

  • Socrates (Library Catalog) 99%
  • Google 94%
  • Library Databases 92%
  • Wikipedia 71%
  • Online Class Research Guide 71%
  • Google Scholar 49%

Most Useful Resources (1-4 Scale: 4=Very useful, 3=useful, 2=A little useful, 1=Not very useful)

  • Socrates (Library Catalog) 3.37
  • Library Databases 3.36
  • Google 3.10
  • Google Scholar 2.91
  • Online Class Research Guide 2.67
  • Wikipedia 2.37

I am very pleased that 99% of students (335 out of 337) used the library catalog to find resources for their paper, and 92% used a library database. I have no problem with 94% of them using Google, but am happy to see that they rate the library catalog and the databases as more useful than Google.

I am disappointed in the low usefulness rating of the Online Research Guides, but wonder if that is due to the fact that the Research Guides are one step removed from actually getting to content.

I was also pleased to see that nearly 40% of students say they consulted a librarian about their research.

For results of some of our open-ended questions, see What do students learn in Library workshops?

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7 Responses to “Library catalog and databases more useful than Google”

  1. 3 Olivia May 20, 2009 at 5:38 am

    Did all of these students have an in-person library instruction session? I find that the online research guides are less relevant to students who have had in-person instruction, but they are very helpful to those who haven’t had a librarian in their classroom.


    • 4 Chris May 20, 2009 at 7:17 am

      Yes, all the students in our freshmen writing classes get an assigned librarian, an in-person library workshops and a class-specific online research guide. I wish I could find a “control group” that doesn’t get that for cmparisons; but that wouldn’t be particularly fair to deny a random set of kids the workshop, I guess ;-)


  2. 5 Rebecca Blakeley May 19, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    This is great news! Warms my heart to see that they found library resources very useful. Thanks for posting your results.


    • 6 Chris May 19, 2009 at 8:18 pm

      Thanks for the comment. The results make me pretty happy too. We asked another question — “What advice would you give to future freshmen writing students?”, and got lots of good library-related responses. I’ll post those results soon.


  1. 1 Students tell other students “go to the library!” « Feral Librarian Trackback on May 21, 2009 at 2:57 pm

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