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International Journal of Libraries and Information Studies

Editor-in-Chief: Albright, Kendra S. / Bothma, Theo J.D.

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Volume 56, Issue 4 (Jan 2006)


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

Carol Smith
  • Corresponding author
  • James C. Kirkpatrick Library, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO, USA
Published Online: 2008-01-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/LIBR.2006.227

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.

About the article

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

Received: 2006-04-14

Accepted: 2006-09-12

Published Online: 2008-01-31

Published in Print: 2006-12-19

Citation Information: Libri, ISSN (Print) 0024-2667, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/LIBR.2006.227. Export Citation

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