As a User Experience (UX) Librarian, my focus is to assess and improve the services that our patrons come in contact with. Our library will undergo a renovation in 2017 and thus, what will the alterations will mean for our users? Academic libraries are changing – the emphasis is no longer focusing on collecting print material, because the way we find information has changed radically in the last decade. Our UX group took the initiative to study the spaces and seating choices students use when in the library, to determine what would be most beneficial for them in the renovated building.
During the fall semester, coinciding with the weeks when the library was most active, our group walked the floors of the library to note on maps where the students worked. We took the time to speak with them about their choices – why they liked working at tables (they could spread out or work as a group), why they chose individual carrels (they needed quiet and no distractions), and their opinions about different sample furniture we tested, to determine what would be best for their needs in the refurbished library.
We assessed an enormous amount of data that illustrated to us that libraries of the 21st century are more than places to locate print materials. Libraries are still spaces where our patrons come to work, but the ways in which workspaces are utilized varies. Some use it for individual study, some for group work, and some for informal, social activities. Ultimately, our study informed us that we need to be progressive in our thinking about our library spaces to accommodate patrons’ needs, in order to provide the tools and services our modern users require. Libraries are not static entities – cha-cha-cha-changes are everywhere.
- Molly Brown, ILN Content Officer