This Community Idea Exchange shares the findings of the post-assignment survey to raise questions about how archives can be more search-friendly for a generation used to Googling and accessing information in seconds.
What can we learn about first year university students’ feedback on using archives? During the standard ENGL 102 (Enrichment in English) library session students went to the archives to discover the special collections. Later in the semester, students were given a comparison and contrast essay assignment where they had to explore old photos of AUB or the old student documents/newsletters/issues of Outlook (the university student magazine) or the old posters of campus activities and events. They then had to find current photos of AUB, current student documents/newsletters/issues of Outlook or current posters of campus activities and events. They accordingly had to identify trends, interests, unearth concerns, trace influences or reach certain conclusions about changes over the years. While working on the assignment, students naturally went to the archives, sought help from the team at the archives, and also accessed the archives online via the library’s website. After the assignment, students were surveyed. The majority expressed high levels of frustration since they found the archives “hard” to search. This Community Idea Exchange shares the findings of the survey to raise questions about how archives can be more search-friendly for a generation used to Googling and accessing information in seconds.