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Libri

International Journal of Libraries and Information Services

Editor-in-Chief: John, Nancy R. / Johnson, Ian M. / Larsen, Svend / Albright, Kendra

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Multiple Cultures, Multiple Intelligences: Applying Cognitive Theory to Usability of Digital Libraries

Carol Smith1

1James C. Kirkpatrick Library, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO, USA

Carol Smith is Assistant Professor and Reference Librarian, James C. Kirkpatrick Library 2460, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO 64093, USA. E-mail: .

Citation Information: Libri. Volume 56, Issue 4, Pages 227–238, ISSN (Print) 0024-2667, DOI: 10.1515/LIBR.2006.227, January 2008

Publication History

Received:
2006-04-14
Accepted:
2006-09-12
Published Online:
2008-01-31

Digital libraries are increasingly serving a worldwide audience. Persons of different cultural backgrounds can hold diverse perceptions of what constitutes an effective, efficient and satisfying information-seeking experience, and digital library design therefore grows more complex when its user population traverses cultural boundaries. This paper reviews the state of research on cross-cultural digital library usability and identifies reasons for lack of progress in the field. An improved framework is proposed to support the discussion and evaluation of subjective cultural factors in a deeper, more systematic fashion. The cognitive theory of Howard Gardner, multiple intelligences theory, is explored as one potential framework for exploring cross-cultural digital library usability. Each component of Gardner's theory is introduced, placed in a cultural context, and then briefly reviewed in terms of its potential application to digital libraries. Alternative frameworks, particularly the cultural dimensions theory of Geert Hofstede, are also introduced. Multiple intelligences theory is found to be helpful for under standing the nature of cultural variables, but not readily translatable into operational design principles for digital libraries. Combining multiple intelligences cognitive theory with cultural theory and global HCI design principles may prove a useful direction for future research.

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