Image-Seeking Preferences Among Undergraduate Novice Researchers

Laurie Bridges, Tiah Edmunson-Morton


Objective – This study investigated the image-seeking preferences of university freshmen to gain a better understanding of how they search for pictures for assignments.

Methods – A survey was emailed to a random sample of 1,000 freshmen enrolled at Oregon State University in the fall of 2009. A total of 63 surveys were returned.

Results – The majority of students indicated they would use Google to find a picture. Nineteen respondents said they would use a library, librarians, and/or archives.

Conclusions – The results indicate the majority of students in our study would use Google to find an image for coursework purposes; yet the students who suggested they would use Google did not mention evaluating the images they might find or have concerns about copyright issues. Undergraduate students would benefit from having visual literacy integrated into standard information literacy instruction to help them locate, evaluate, and legally use the images they find online. In addition, libraries, librarians, archivists, and library computer programmers should work to raise the rankings of library digital photo collections in online search engines like Google.


academic librarianship; information literacy; visual literacy; archives; digital libraries; undergraduates; freshmen; image seeking beahvior

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