UX and Library

Saw this tweet recently. Inspired to know how UX / User Experience can be put into practice to help us in distributing workloads and tasks. Visualizations can help us see things better compared to listing it all in text format. Have you thought of something similar at your workplace?


Get closer to “customer first” in seven days – OCLC article

“Over the past year or so, I’ve started to see new ‘customer experience’ job titles (like Chief Customer Experience Officer and Deputy Director of Customer Experience) pop up in libraries that have been present in the consumer space for some time. Makes sense. Having someone focus on how people use your products and services across …”

Source: Get closer to “customer first” in seven days

One of my fav topics: Customer Service and Serving our library community.

I am especially drawn to the point on mapping out user journeys.  Wouldn’t it be  interesting to know where our users like to congregate?  Perhaps, that they are using our group study rooms more than buying a cup of coffee at the library cafe? What about the quiet study areas – how often do our users go to this area during the examination periods?   How long are our users staying in the study carrels?  Do we need to revamp certain areas to suit the ever chaning needs of our demanding users? Sigh – the never ending list of questions ….

I am pencilling this as something to do in the near future.  It would be great to have some cognitive maps of our library users.  Here’s an interesting site by Prof Donna Lanclos:  http://www.donnalanclos.com/tag/cognitive-maps/




“Why academics and researchers still prefer Google Scholar?”

I was asked this question by someone. Here’s my personal take on this:

We cannot deny the pervasiveness of Google / Google Scholar usage among academics and researchers. One of the enticements of Google Scholar is the simplicity of the search box.  However, if we take a look at Discovery Products such as Summon, EDS, Primo and OCLC’s discovery layers, most of them are intertwined with the library homepages. Most if not all libraries infuse the discovery layer into their search box on their homepage. Compare our library’s Summon Start page: http://koral.summon.serialssolutions.com and our library homepage. Both are using the same Summon ‘search engine’ but different interface. How libraries design their website could have an impact on the use of these discovery layers. Another factor: How well are they marketing their ‘product’? This may sway their preferences of using Google Scholar than Discovery layers.

Coming back to the question: why academics and researchers still prefer Google Scholar? Are we referring this on a general basis or specifically our university academic and research community? Also, we need to categorize them (acad and research into the various subjects: Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences). There was a study by Ithaka that showed humanities group uses the library website more often compared to the Soc Sciences and Sciences. Turn the tables around, Humanities uses less search engine compared to soc sciences and sciences.


Source:  http://www.sr.ithaka.org/publications/us-library-survey-2016/

Based on my small focus group study on our university community, I noted that there was a mixture of feedback. Some were unaware of the search capability of KORAL (for example the search result facet etc). Some prefer to use to Google Scholar to search because its faster and many are accustomed to this. I had one who thought that KORAL only searches library information. It all depends on one’s preferences. When it’s ingrained in them, it will take an effort to make them move them out of their comfort zone.

Think about MP3 players. They do the same thing but Apple still has a big share.

I conclude that whether its discovery layer, Google Scholar or databases, libraries would need to cater to the various search nuances of our users. We can assist by providing complimentary tools to assist users in achieving their information need. At the end of the day, our users are mostly interested to get their hands on an article, ebook chapter, conference proc, books etc …. We can provide the various platforms.

To give another analogy: User need to get a choc bar at the grocery shop.  There are various options to get it: ask someone to buy for them;  go to the grocery shop either by taking a bus, walking or running or even cycling there and buy it.  The ultimate aim is to get that choc bar.  We cannot force them by using a certain pathway but we can provide them with viable alternatives.

Anyways here are some interesting articles:
Paths of Discovery: Comparing the Search Effectiveness of EBSCO Discovery Service, Summon, Google Scholar, and Conventional Library Resources
Excerpt from article:


Source:  http://crl.acrl.org/index.php/crl/article/view/16327/17773

Check out this report by Ithaka: http://www.sr.ithaka.org/publications/us-library-survey-2016/
US Library Survey 2016 – There’s a section on discovery somewhere near the middle of the article.

“Library directors are increasingly recognizing that discovery does not and should not always happen in the library. Compared to the 2013 survey results, fewer library directors believe that it is important that the library is seen by its users as the first place that they go to discover content, and fewer believe that the library is always the best place for researchers at their institution to start their research. The share of respondents who agree that it is important that the library guide users to a preferred version of a given source continues to decrease.”

Another one: http://www.sr.ithaka.org/wp-content/mig/files/SR_Briefing_Discovery_20140924_0.pdf
Does Discovery Still Happen in the Library? – Ithaka S+R

Your thoughts?

Usability Study: Interviews with our community


One of my projects for this year is to conduct Summon After-Implementation study.  Summon is our new web discovery layer which was implemented in May 2016.  This study involved interviewing our community namely: Faculty members, PhD and MSc students and PostDoc.  One of the main objectives of this interview exercise is to obtain information on how they are using Summon to search for electronic resources.  In addition to that, I asked for their recommendations on improving their search experience.

Quick Information about our International Graduate Research University:


Source:  https://www.kaust.edu.sa/en/about/media-relations#part3

Here are some quick takes:

  • Google Scholar is the go-to source for articles.  According to the participants, they obtain more relevant and faster (search return speed) hits compared to using Summon
  • Most of the participants searched for articles as compared to ebook / ebook chapters when using Summon
  • Use Summon to search for library’s print or electronic books collection.  An interesting comment: Google Scholar is not efficient enough to provide this information for them.  ** Imagine if Google Scholar is able to do this 🙂
  • Participants found that the search results in Summon are often too cluttered; giving rise to information overload.  Most of them are also unaware of the filter features that allow participants to filter out the ‘noise’ from their search results.
  • The search result return speed is another cause for concern (Summon).  Perhaps a more directed search approach would assist our users to get their information faster.  We could have tab / radio button options on our website to allow our users to search for articles; ebook / ebook chapters and print / AV materials separately.
  • Though some of the participants mentioned that they have attended our library training, there is not much evidence whether this has impacted their search experience in Summon.  (Another potential research topic 🙂 ).

Those are just some of the main points garnered from the interviews.  Any peeps out there willing to share their experience?

The trouble with website(s) …

Head in Hands

I had a frustrating time trying to figure out what went wrong with a certain banking website.

I tried logging on using Firefox and it showed a message that the site was temporarily unavailable.  I assumed site maintenance as the error message was pretty vague.  After several unsuccessful attempts over 2 days, I decided to contact their call center.  The guy on the other line assured me that I should be able to access after 2 minutes.

So I gave it a long hour before I tried again. Still the same problem. Called the center again and this time the lady told me to switch to Internet Explorer Browser. Well, it worked BUT the minute I clicked on the button to do an online payment, the browser logged me out of the site.  **shaking head in disbelief.

Then I decided to try Chrome: Voila! It worked.  I gonne stick to Chrome for the time being.

Moral of the Story: Please be more explicit about the Error message.  You could have informed us to switch to another browser. Talk about user experience.