Help Us Make Better Libraries

Have you ever visited one of our libraries and thought: “If only the library would…”, or “I wish that they could…”, or even, “If I had designed this, I would have…”, but those thoughts never go beyond an internal dialogue?  Well, the University Libraries loves having the opportunity to connect with our users and building spaces to discover how to better serve our users.  In 2011, Dean Fox initiated the Libraries Student Advisory Board (LSAB) to learn more about our users and their evolving needs.  It is one of the ways that we are committed to making communities where we can hear honest feedback from our users.  The board usually meets for one hour 4-6 times per academic year.

One benefit of being part of the LSAB, is that members often get sneak peeks into new initiatives.  Examples include members getting to see early architectural renderings of redesigned spaces as well as being a part of the creative process of developing the libraries tag line. At every meeting there is an audience of key library administrators who listen to the boards honest reactions and is one of the ways the libraries can be responsive to what is shared.

Apart from providing feedback, LSAB also allows the libraries to explore effective and creative solutions to our users’ learning and research behaviors.  For instance, LSAB brought a user’s perspective to our new website design, by helping organize and label the content of our webpages in to categories that create an online experience that matches users expectations.  And, in the case of Ekstrom Library’s 1st floor redesign, removing the wall that used separate the quiet study room to allow more natural light (a popular request for our spaces) had its genesis in the advisory board.  Take a listen to what Conrad Smart (a recent alumnus and former board member) has to say about the LSAB!

Want to Join Our Community?
When you walk through our virtual and physical doors, we want you to succeed at meeting your academic goals.  Would you like the opportunity to get engaged and help shape the spaces and services of your library?  Drop us a line!  All currently enrolled students are eligible to become a member.  We’d love to hear from you!

Calling all users!

As you use library services and resources, have you ever found yourself thinking about how it could be done better? Well as the User Experience librarian, I help the libraries find ways of shaping resources and services so that you (the user) can better meet your goals. Hopefully, they’re also simple (if not elegant) solutions that help ease your time here.
To build a better user experience, we follow a cycle that looks like this:

User Experience Design Cycle

Here’s where you come in. We always need people to help us during the research and testing phases.  This is when we learn more about:

  • Who you are
  • When you’re using the library
  • Why you’re visiting
  • How you’re getting your work done
  • What you need us to do or offer

Chances are you’ve seen (or even participated in) some of the ways we try to learn about you.  Maybe you participated in focus groups last spring, answered our survey, or gave feedback on a whiteboard. When you see our call for help with:

  • Website testing
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Whiteboards
  • Surveys

Answer it.  If you’re not already following us on our social media pages, join us – we’ll share opportunities to help there.  We want to see you succeed.  Come shape your experience in the library and help us build a better one. Creating a seamless experience for finding, accessing and synthesizing ideas will be a good start.

Join the Libraries Student Advisory Board!

Have you heard about the Libraries Student Advisory Board (LSAB).  No?  Well here’s an opportunity to get engaged and shape your library.

About us
The board was started in 2011 to help the libraries learn more about our users and our community and meet their evolving needs.  It also allows the libraries to explore effective and creative responses to our users’ learning and research behaviors. 

What’s involved?
We usually meet 4-6 times per academic year, with each meeting lasting around an hour.  We also expect each member to commit to attend at least 2 meetings per year, attend at least one library event, and utilize one library service that they wouldn’t ordinarily use.  

Libraries Student Advisory Board


What do you talk about?
Most recently we’ve been focusing on 1st floor space issues and needs.  But in the past we’ve addressed things like increasing hours, availability of electrical outlets, and quiet study space.

How can I join?
Want to join the conversation? Drop us a line! We’d love to hear from you. All currently enrolled students (that includes you, too, graduate students) are invited to become a member.

We’re Ready to Listen

As Ekstrom Library continues to look at its spaces, we’re about to embark on an assessment of the east side of the first floor.   Over the next four months, we’ll be using a variety of methods to look at how people use this space, including:

  • Whiteboards,with a theme or question
  • Quick polls (mini-surveys)
  • Observations
  • Focus groups

To help us better shape this space, we want to learn more about what:

  • Brings you to the library
  • You do or what services you use while here
  • Works well (and what we could be doing better)

You may notice some observations as early as next week; will start seeing the first round of polls and whiteboards around mid January; and, calls for focus group participation by the end of January. Keep an eye out for opportunities to join the conversation!  It’s a chance for you to have your voice heard and influence how we use our spaces. We’re all (eyes and) ears and excited to learn from you!

Easy Ways to Make a Difference

At some time in your life at UofL, you may have received a survey from one of the departments in the library.  [It’s even more likely that you’ve participated in a survey from another department.]  When they’re done right, surveys can provide a low cost opportunity to sample a population’s behaviors and attitudes. Currently, we’re analyzing the text responses from the last major survey in 2012. With almost 3700 free-form responses, it’s been quite a task!  But, we’ve finished analyzing the faculty responses, are about 2/3 of the way through the graduate responses, and eager to start on the undergraduate responses.


While surveys provide valuable feedback, often times, they don’t explain why a behavior happens, or clarify/contextualize a response.  For this purpose, the University Libraries utilizes focus groups, observation studies, and advisory boards.  Many times, these qualitative studies require no more than an hour of your time. And, most times we give an incentive for participation!

Currently we have:

  • Completed focus groups with 2nd year medical school students
  • Conducted observation studies in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room
  • An active Libraries Student Advisory Board

Upcoming studies include:

  • Library website usability study
  • Archives and Special Collections focus groups

Why does it matter?
For the Libraries
Collectively, the findings from of each type of study give us a more holistic understanding of user needs & expectations. This, in turn, informs changes that we make to the libraries and their resources.

For you
This is an opportunity for you to not only share where you’ve had successes (or failures) with the libraries and its systems, but share insight as to how you think it can be done differently. I know you’re bursting with ideas! You’ve used other libraries, other sites, and had lots other experiences that have developed your creative muscle.

Additionally, by sharing through these formal channels, your voice will be heard by those empowered to make changes. In fact, we already have implemented changes that came from your suggestions – we’ve increased the number of electrical outlets, increased hours during finals, and most recently created more quiet study space with our 4th floor renovation.

How do I get involved?

  • If you haven’t already done so, connect with us on our social media pages
  • Keep an eye out for our calls for participation – we’ll post them on social media and via other avenues on campus
  • Respond to that call – time involvement can be anywhere from 15 minutes up to an hour

We want to learn from you; we want to listen; and, we want to make your experience better.