«I’ll give a look on the shelves»: case study on reader-opac interactions at the Biblioteca Civica “Vincenzo Joppi”, Udine, Italy


  • Carlo Bianchini University of Pavia




Library science, Cataloging, Reader surveys, Biblioteca civica Vincenzo Joppi, Udine


Introduction. Users’ behaviour studies relevance shows a constantly increasing trend. Users’ behaviour is the research focus both in libraries and information sciences and in cataloguing. User studies in LIS were developed along four trends: user studies, information behaviour, information practice and information experience (Gonzales-Teruel 2018). With FRBR Report in 1998 and its four user tasks definition, a major shift toward users’ centrality came in cataloguing too. Relevance of user tasks is also underlined by the Statement of International Cataloguing Principles (ICP). It confirms FRBR four functions and adds a new one: to navigate. The focus of this research is the effective interaction of users with the OPAC at the Biblioteca Civica "Vincenzo Joppi”, Udine, Italy, with the aim of assessing both efficacy and efficiency of interactions, from the point of view both of the user and of the OPAC.

Method: This paper draws on an original research, as data about a simple random sample of 36 readers were collected by means both of a survey by a questionnaire before and after the interactions and by OPAC transactions screen recordings. Data were collected in Udine public library, Biblioteca “Vincenzo Joppi”, Udine, Italy, between August and October 2017. Quantitative and qualitative data analyses were conducted on collected data about 130 searches (a process that ends with a positive or negative result) and 200 interactions (each of the search attempts).

Results and Discussion: The contrast between use frequency and reader’s proficiency level shows that the more frequent the use, the higher the confidence level felt by reader. On the contrast, confidence level is not related to educational background. Nearly half of the interviewed (49%) search in the catalogue to fulfil personal information needs; any other information needs (teacher suggestions, friends’ advices, internet etc.) are less important. In nearly half of the interactions, the search field used is title; instead, percentage of searches by subject, by author’s surname or by author’s name and surname are all just slightly over 10%. Furthermore, data about search field support data about the two broad types of questions: 60% are known item searches, and just 40% are exploratory searches. The most preferred search approach is Google-like search (36%); advanced search (30%) is relevant, while basic search (12%) is less important. However, the most successful results are obtained by advanced search (67%), followed by basic search (56%) and google-like search (53%). An interesting difference emerges from the contrast between data collected from questionnaires and from direct observations of readers’ interactions with the OPAC: readers express approval or disapproval based on the final results of their overall research and not on single interactions, and take for granted that to achieve results one or more attempts could be needed. Final success depends mostly upon the kind of users’ starting question: known item searches are more successful than exploratory searches (60% versus 43%). Data As a result, data confirm that to perform exploratory searches readers need to be supported by a higher level of reference service. Data show that reasons for failure in searches rely on readers’ behaviour (56%) more than on library services (24%). For this reason, readers’ interactions with the OPAC could be improved by promoting information literacy for the readers.


Alberani 2008 = Manuale/Dizionario della biblioteconomia e delle scienze dell’informazione. Parte I: Indicizzazione e recupero semantico dell’informazione, a cura di Vilma Alberani, Roma, Associazione italiana biblioteche.

Bianchini 2017 = Carlo Bianchini, “Funziona come Google, vero?”. Prima indagine sull’interazione utente-catalogo nella biblioteca del Dipartimento di musicologia e beni culturali (Cremona) dell’Università di Pavia, «AIB studi» 57 (2017), 1, p. 23-49.

Bianchini 2018 = Carlo Bianchini, Il reference come esperienza formativa, in La biblioteca (in)forma. Digital reference, information literacy, e-learning. Convegno, Milano, 15-16 marzo 2018, Milano, Editrice Bibliografica, 2018, p. 171-92.

Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze 2006 = Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, Nuovo soggettario. Guida al sistema italiano di indicizzazione per soggetto. Prototipo del Thesaurus. Milano, Editrice Bibliografica, 2006.

Convegno Stelline 2018 = La biblioteca (in)forma. Digital reference, information literacy, e-learning. Convegno, Milano, 15-16 marzo 2018. Milano, Bibliografica, 2018.

Deana 2019 = Danilo Deana, A ciascuno il suo catalogo, Milano, Editrice Bibliografica, 2019.

Feliciati 2016 = Pierluigi Feliciati, L’usabilità degli ambienti bibliotecari e archivistici digitali come requisito di qualità, contesto, modelli e strumenti di valutazione, «JLIS.it» 7 (2016), 1, p. 113-130.

Floridi 2010 = Luciano Floridi, Information. A very short introduction, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010.

Francese 2015 = Enrico Francese, Test di usabilità sul discovery tool “Primo” all’Università di Torino, «Biblioteche oggi» 31 (2015), 10, p. 10-17.

Galeffi 2017 = Agnese Galeffi, Se il catalogo parlasse, lo capiremmo? Cinque assiomi della comunicazione catalografica, «AIB Studi» 57 (2017), 2, p. 239-52.

González-Teruel 2018 = Aurora González-Teruel, Quattro approcci agli studi sull’utenza: user studies, information behaviour, information practice e information experience, «AIB Studi» 58 (2018), 3, p. 479-489.

González-Teruel [et al.] 2015 = Aurora González-Teruel, Gregorio González-Alcaide, Maite Barrios [et al.], Mapping recent information behavior research: an analysis of co-authorship and co-citation networks, «Scientometrics» 103 (2015), 2, p. 687-705.

Guerrini 1999 = Mauro Guerrini, Catalogazione, Roma, Associazione italiana biblioteche, 1999.

Guerrini 2012 = Mauro Guerrini, Giuliano Genetasio, I principi internazionali di catalogazione (ICP). Universo bibliografico e teoria catalografica all’inizio del XXI secolo, Milano, Editrice Bibliografica, 2012.

Guerrini 2018 = Mauro Guerrini, Lucia Sardo, IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM). Un modello concettuale per le biblioteche del XXI secolo, Milano, Editrice Bibliografica, 2018.

IFLA Cataloguing Section 2016 = IFLA Cataloguing Section, IFLA Meeting of Experts on an International Cataloguing Code, Statement of International Cataloguing Principles (ICP), Den Haag, IFLA, 2016.

IFLA Study Group on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records 1998 = IFLA Study Group on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records, Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records. Final report, München, K.G. Saur, 1998.

Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA 2011 = Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA, RDA. Resource Description and Access. London, CILIP, 2011.

Kumar [et al.] 2018 = Rajinder Kumar, Joginder Singh, Balwan Singh [et al.], Usability of OPAC in University Libraries: A Review, «Library Philosophy and Practice», 2018, 12, p. 1-7.

Marchitelli 2012 = Andrea Marchitelli, Giovanna Frigimelica, OPAC, Roma, AIB. 2012.

Petrucciani 2015 = Alberto Petrucciani, Quality of Library Catalogs and Value of (Good) Catalogs, «Cataloging & Classification Quarterly», 53 (2015), 3-4, p. 303-313.

Petrucciani 2016 = Alberto Petrucciani, L’utente (il lettore?) tra quantità e qualità: “buchi neri” ed esigenze di ricerca, «Biblioteche oggi Trends», 2 (2016), 1, p. 19-30.

Raieli 2015 = Roberto Raieli, Limiti dell’information discovery e necessità dell’information literacy, «Nuovi annali della Scuola speciale per archivisti e bibliotecari», 29 (2015), p. 179-194.

Raieli 2020 = Roberto Raieli, Web-scale discovery services. Principi, applicazioni e ipotesi di sviluppo, Roma, Associazione italiana biblioteche. 2020.

Ranganathan 2009 = Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan, Il servizio di reference, Firenze, Le Lettere. 2009.

Righi 2013 = Simonetta Righi, Maurizio Zani, Quando la soddisfazione dell’utente comincia dalla home page, «Biblioteche oggi», 31 (2013), 8, p. 21-27.

Sardo 2017 = Lucia Sardo, Io venìa pien d’angoscia a rimirarti. Catalogues and users of public libraries, «JLIS.it» 8 (2017), 3, p. 177-90.

Subhash 2018 = Reddy B. Subhash, M. Krishnamurthy, Ashok Y. Asundi, Information use, user, user needs and seeking behaviour. A review, «DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology», 38 (2018), 2, p. 82-87.


2020-12-31 — Updated on 2021-01-18


How to Cite

Bianchini, C. (2021). «I’ll give a look on the shelves»: case study on reader-opac interactions at the Biblioteca Civica “Vincenzo Joppi”, Udine, Italy. Bibliothecae.It, 9(2), 420-457. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2283-9364/12004 (Original work published December 31, 2020)