The impact of digital libraries on cognitive processes: Psychological issues of hypermedia

David N. Rapp*, Holly A. Taylor, Gregory R. Crane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Digital library research has focused on the construction of large-scale databases that provide users with hypermedia search and examination tools. Digital library construction has resulted in impressive, albeit sometimes overwhelming content, in a multimedia environment. As such, research should turn to examining the role of the human processor in digital library experiences. Cognitive psychologists have examined the comprehension processes involved in human information processing, and critically, how information is stored in memory. These findings can be applied to issues inherent in the conceptualization and implementation of digital libraries. This article reviews relevant findings from cognitive research on text comprehension, memory, and spatial cognition with the aim of describing how these concepts apply to the design and functionality of digital libraries. Further, we describe ways in which interdisciplinary collaborations between cognitive psychology and digital library research will be mutually beneficial. Digital libraries can serve as rich test-beds for cognitive theories, while cognitive theories can inform design specifications for digital libraries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-628
Number of pages20
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2003


  • Comprehension
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Hypermedia
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Multimedia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

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