I find the library world to be one in which user-experience has yet to establish itself. I have understood the problem, I think, but have yet to find a solution.
The basic problem is this:
A (novice) student user is assigned some research topic; they go to the library site, and are not sure where to begin.
An (experienced) researcher (graduate student or faculty member) know what they want, exactly, or have a good sense of how to start their research.
These desires to explore have to be integrated within the tools that the library has:
A "discovery" tool, that searches library databases and the library catalog at the same time--but that is a poor service when you are trying to find an exact title ("i.e., "Huckleberry Finn", the novel, appears on page 2 of the results--many books on the novel appear first) and when you are researching some topics (Company financial information)
Library databases for each subject area, great if you are experienced or have a very precise information need, but bad if you have no idea where to start; and a corresponding site that shows databases by subject (more instructional)
A library catalog, that is great for finding if we own a particular book
After conducting usability testing on our site, I have discovered that users (especially undergraduates) are drawn to the disovery tool, but are frustrated when the results are not answering the research question. More experienced users (faculty, for example) especially dislike it (one library received scathing mails from faculty because the site design forced faculty to use it).
I need to somehow communicate: if you don't know where to start, do this (discovery tool); if you know what you want, do this; if you want to see what sort of research databases we offer in your subject area, look here (for faculty who want to know what art databases we have, for example).
And, finally, if you don't find what you want in the discovery tool, try these options.
It could just be the tools at our disposal are just bad... which is unfortunate... but I was hoping to find a way around this. Any suggestions would be great; it seems complicated, so if you want to skip responding, I don't blame you.