SPEC Kit 322: Library User Experience  ·  17
Survey Questions and Responses
The SPEC survey on the Library User Experience was designed by Robert Fox, Dean of University Libraries,
University of Louisville, and Ameet Doshi, Assessment Coordinator and head of the User Experience
Department, Georgia Tech. These results are based on data submitted by 71 of the 126 ARL member libraries
(56%) by the deadline of March 4, 2011. The survey’s introductory text and questions are reproduced below,
followed by the response data and selected comments from the respondents.
Research libraries find themselves increasingly being asked to justify program expenditures in terms of their impact on research,
teaching, and learning activities. An important aspect in generating high impact for the library is ensuring that its resources and
services closely align with the evolving needs of its users. Libraries may engage their users through a number of methods to help
create this alignment, including formal and informal evaluation tools, outreach efforts to specific user groups, and feedback from
user advisory boards. Research libraries have a long history of evaluating collection needs and general user satisfaction. More
recently, assessment has adopted a user-centered mindset focused on evaluation of the user experience for improving the design of
library services and facilities. As Aaron Schmidt describes in the Library Journal User Experience column:
“Touch points are all the places your patrons come into contact with your library and its services. Things like your web site and
databases, service desks, staff, programs, and even brochures. One goal of User Experience Design is to help determine if any
of those touch points are also pain points—places of contact that make patrons confused, aggravated, or disappointed—and
fix them if they are.” (May 1, 2010)
The purpose of this survey is to explore 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 elicits examples of successful user experience
activities to serve as benchmarks for libraries looking to create or expand efforts in this area. It also explores whether libraries have
created positions or entire departments focused on user engagement and the user experience.
Definitions
In this survey, “users” include anyone who utilizes or could reasonably be expected to utilize the library’s services and resources, for
example, students, faculty, researchers, and community members. “User experience activities” includes any effort by the library to:
1. Assess or measure the experience users encounter with the library’s services, resources, facilities, and technology;
2. Seek user input to help design or guide improvements in these same areas;
3. Collaborate with other library staff or campus/community partners to enhance library services, facilities, and resources in
innovative ways;
4. Utilize advisory boards and/or outreach efforts to gain a better understanding of user needs.
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