Usability study of a Finnish digital public library

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    This research paper deals with the usability of a digital public library service. In public libraries, the customer base is far more heterogeneous and the usage patterns more diverse than in academic libraries, that have often been the focus of many earlier usability studies. Typically, the users of academic libraries are seeking new knowledge and the user interface is designed to allow the efficient discovery of resources. In public libraries, users do not only have a utilitarian view of reading as a learning tool, but they also read for pleasure. This paper specifies the user interface of a digital library service for public libraries and measures the usability and general user experience of the service. A digital library system was built according to the derived specifications. The usability measurement tool was developed according to the Nielsen usability framework. A digital collection of Finnish eBooks was made available for Helsinki Metropolian Area library users for the test period and usability was measured by web questionnaire. The usability of online and offline reading modes were compared. The results show some differences in book lending and reading but no differences on returning loaned digital books. This study shows that Nielsen's usability framework can be used to measure the usability of a digital public library. Mostly positive feedback was received and a majority of the users were even willing to recommend the service to their friends.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)33-44
    JournalJournal of Print and Media Technology Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • digital public library
    • eBooks
    • Nielsen usability framework
    • user experience
    • online reading
    • offline reading


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