SPEC Kit 322: Library User Experience (July 2011)

This SPEC Kit explores recent and planned user experience activities at ARL member libraries and the impact these efforts have on helping the libraries transform to meet evolving user needs. The survey elicited examples of successful user experience activities to serve as benchmarks for libraries looking to create or expand efforts in this area. It also explored whether libraries have created positions or entire departments focused on user engagement and the user experience.

The survey results revealed that nearly all of the responding ARL member institutions are employing a form of user engagement, whether or not they refer to it as user experience. While there appears to be a lack of common vocabulary or program standardization, there is a growing awareness of the need to assess libraries from the user perspective—with new positions and even departments created to accomplish this goal. Overall, respondents feel that efforts made in assessing the user experience are well spent. They articulated numerous projects that resulted in major program updates and facility revisions and that were well received by library administration, governing/funding boards, and most importantly, by library users.

This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents that describe user experience planning and organization, specific projects, how volunteers are recruited, the role of advisory boards, and job requirements for user experience coordinators, among others.

Table of Contents

SPEC Kit 322: Library User Experience (July 2011)

Abstract:

This SPEC Kit explores recent and planned user experience activities at ARL member libraries and the impact these efforts have on helping the libraries transform to meet evolving user needs. The survey elicited examples of successful user experience activities to serve as benchmarks for libraries looking to create or expand efforts in this area. It also explored whether libraries have created positions or entire departments focused on user engagement and the user experience.

The survey results revealed that nearly all of the responding ARL member institutions are employing a form of user engagement, whether or not they refer to it as user experience. While there appears to be a lack of common vocabulary or program standardization, there is a growing awareness of the need to assess libraries from the user perspective—with new positions and even departments created to accomplish this goal. Overall, respondents feel that efforts made in assessing the user experience are well spent. They articulated numerous projects that resulted in major program updates and facility revisions and that were well received by library administration, governing/funding boards, and most importantly, by library users.

This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents that describe user experience planning and organization, specific projects, how volunteers are recruited, the role of advisory boards, and job requirements for user experience coordinators, among others.