Reports from the WHELF UXLibs workshop
WHELF was very pleased to have Andy Priestner run a UXLibs workshop at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen campus on 30th June 2017. Many thanks to Nina Whitcombe (Swansea University) and Sue House (University of South Wales) for these excellent blog posts about their experience of the day.
By Nina Whitcombe, Collections Services and Systems Officer at Swansea University:
“I registered for this course as soon as I saw it advertised on the enthusiastic recommendation of a colleague who had already attended training given by Andy Priestner. The course became full very quickly so I am glad that I did manage to book early. After working in academic libraries for longer than I am prepared to admit, it becomes very easy to fall into the mind-set of assuming you have a good grasp on what users want. This training was a timely reminder that user requirements constantly evolve and in order to meet institutional aims for student experience we need to gather behavioural and attitudinal data alongside the more traditional data such as footfall, number of loans etc.
Throughout the day, Andy introduced a variety of ethnographic approaches that can be employed when gathering research data from library users. The results can then be examined to identify how our services and spaces are currently used and how people want to use them. We were given the opportunity to carry out practical examples using the various research methods and encouraged to consider how we could take these ideas away with us and apply them in our own work environments.
The final part of the day covered idea generation and prototyping based on data gathered during research. We worked through a number of practical examples aimed at maximising the value of user feedback. It was reassuring to see how quickly and cheaply user satisfaction with the physical library environment can be improved (strategically placed plants acting as privacy screens on shared study tables). We are currently undergoing a major campus redevelopment project and I am sure there will be the opportunity to try out some of the methods and ideas covered at this event soon”
By Sue House, Librarian for Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, University of South Wales:
In this slightly unconventional post I’ve tried to use reflective questions learned on a CILIP Professional Registration Workshop & Mentor Information and Support Session from CSO Sharon Cook to share with you a personal evaluative and critical summary of the day.
Why did I do this activity?
- To learn about UX and ethnographic research
- To find out how I could understand our library users better
- To find out if I could use UX to help me prioritise my own workload by finding out what is important to my students & staff in humanities, social sciences and law (the answer is potentially ‘yes’.)
What did I learn from it?
I learned a huge amount from this day, the key points for me were:
- UX is a holistic approach to giving users not just what they want but also what they ‘don’t yet know they want’ and if it is done well and services and products change for the better as a result of feedback then ‘customer service’ is not necessarily required as the experience of our services and products will be good/great.
- It’s all about how someone feels when they use a service or product (their attitudes / behaviour)
- It’s all about how ‘useful, usable and desirable’ a service or product is
- Everyone in the library should be involved in UX research
- There are several methods available – surveys/focus groups are ok if very well designed, but there are lots more engaging methods which will illicit more useful and effective data e.g. observations, mapping the ‘desire line’ through a space, in-depth user interviews, cognitive mapping, photo elicitation interviews, user journey mapping, card sorting, touchstone tours, love and break-up letters etc. Several of which we were able to experience in various activities throughout the day.
- You can start small and scale up, you just need post-its and Sharpies!
- You need to think about ethics and consent forms (speak to your ‘Ethics’ people before you start)
There are lots of UX library resources available including:
- #uxlibs on Twitter
- Lib-Innovation blog from University of York http://libinnovation.blogspot.co.uk/
- Krug – Don’t Make Me Think
- Priestner & Borg – User Experience in Libraries: applying ethnography and human-centred design
- Schmidt & Etches – Useful, Usable, Desirable: applying user experience design to your library
How is this going to change my practice?
- I would like to start by carrying out some 1hr observations of the space around the law collection at our Treforest library in the new academic year
- I’m also considering using love and break-up letters as an activity in my ‘Refresher’ library induction sessions with returning students
How am I going to share this new knowledge?
- I’m going to feedback to the team at the next available opportunity
- I’ve written this blog post for WHELF
How am I going to monitor impact?
I will report back on the observations and inductions to my line manager with any suggestions for improvements to library space and services.
Ask yourself – ‘So what’?
The recent updating and development of classic ethnographic research methods to ‘UX’ has really energised many in the library community to gain a better understanding our users. At a time when libraries are under pressure to provide return on investment/value for money and evidence-based services these methods can relatively easily and more effectively inform the strategic and operational direction of the library service at USW. I would advocate that all USW library staff be involved in UX work. Andy was a great trainer and above all else it was a fun day out – yes, really!