14  ·  Survey Results:  Executive Summary
while one noted individual faculty interviews. Two
respondents also remarked that their student advisory
boards provided input during this process, and one
indicated that their University Library Committee re-
viewed strategic directions. On the output side, a num-
ber of respondents indicated that user experience and/
or assessment were identified as strategic priorities or
as action items within their recent strategic plans. One
respondent noted that library user experience activi-
ties were funded by their parent institution as a part
of the campus strategic plan. While the total number
of references to strategic plans was limited, we might
expect to see an increased emphasis on user experi-
ence and assessment activities in strategic plans as the
UX field matures and becomes more commonplace in
research library agendas.
Advisory Boards
Over 80% of the respondents indicated that they had
some type of formal advisory board in place. In their
responses they described 117 separate boards, of
which 60 were composed solely of students. Half of
the student boards included both undergraduate and
graduate members, or the respondent noted only that
the board had student members but made no distinc-
tion on their classification. The other half of the stu-
dent boards was split almost evenly between “under-
graduates only” and “graduates only.” Nearly all the
student boards were noted as providing a mechanism
for student advice and input. When asked what specif-
ic outcomes resulted from these boards, respondents
noted three primary areas: general input on policies
and services, review of and possible extension of ser-
vice hours, and input on library renovation and space
utilization, especially as it pertained to the creation of
quiet study zones.
Thirty-three of the advisory boards were com-
posed of faculty only or a combination of faculty and
staff. The majority of these boards were considered
to be of an advisory nature, although a few had tar-
geted missions. When asked about outcomes here,
respondents indicated that for nearly half the boards
the primary outcome was establishing and main-
taining communication between the faculty and li-
brary administration. Interestingly, a fourth of the
faculty boards had no outcomes listed at all. The
remaining boards had outcomes listed of improving
services and collections, reviewing and/or approving
proposed policy changes, and assistance in survey
development.
Sixteen boards were composed of faculty and stu-
dent members. The most common faculty/student
board structure reported was of a faculty senate com-
mittee that included limited student representation.
Notably, these boards more closely resembled faculty-
only boards than student-only boards in their roles
and outcomes. Two-thirds of the respondents indi-
cated the primary board role was advisory in nature,
and two-thirds associated no specific outcomes as a
result of the board.
Eight of the boards did not include student mem-
bers and had little or no faculty representation. These
boards were primarily associated with library devel-
opment efforts.
Based on the information submitted in this sur-
vey, it appears that a majority of boards associated
with user engagement activities contain only student
members. For the most part, respondents noted well-
defined roles and outcomes for these boards. Boards
composed only of faculty members or faculty mem-
bers with limited student participation were often
viewed as important communication tools but had
less well-defined outcomes or no outcomes noted at
all. Institutions seeking active student input on user
experience activities may be better served by the use
of student-only boards rather than boards with lim-
ited student participation.
Summary
This survey revealed that nearly all responding ARL
member institutions are employing a form of user en-
gagement, whether or not they refer to it as such. For
some libraries, the activities may be limited to small
surveys or perhaps a focus group, while other libraries
are engaging users through formal advisory boards
and are sponsoring comprehensive ethnographic
studies. Organizationally, the responding libraries
range from an institution with no formal assessment
program that periodically conducts ad hoc exercises
to an institution with a user experience department.
While there appears to be a lack of common vocabu-
lary or program standardization, there is a growing
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