At this time of constant connection to the internet, mass use of social networks, instant messaging, mobile devices and apps, and instant access to information at any time and from anywhere, and right when we need it, we need to reassess the services offered by libraries to adapt them to a new technological context and new user needs.
â€śwe need to reassess the services offered by libraries to adapt them to a new technological context and new user needsâ€ť
For some time now here at the UOC Library we have provided a response to the new user needs arising from these technological changes and trends.
In the specific case of the training offered by the Library over recent years, and specifically since 2009 when we produced the Training Plan (a plan which is currently being updated), we have made a concerted effort to focus on e-learning via the Universityâ€™s Virtual Campus and new multimedia formats that include audio, video and text.
The roll-out of the UOC Libraryâ€™s new website has let us take another step, further enhancing our commitment to self-learning and audiovisual formats for Library users, both for training in the use of the Libraryâ€™s services and resources and in basic information skills so they can work independently to find, manage and use information.
We believe that multimedia, which in most cases means short videos that we call knowledge pills, is the format that best meets the training needs of our users in the current context.
â€śmultimedia, which in most cases means short videos that we call knowledge pills, is the format that best meets the training needs of our usersâ€ť
Thus, the training offered by the UOC Library is based, fundamentally, on a series of selfâ€‘learning videos to accompany the Libraryâ€™s services and resources and a series of videos to help users work independently to find, manage and use information.
The catalogue of videos undergoes an annual review and update. The Library also offers the possibility for users to request specific materials on any subject from the Bespoke Training Service.
User tests form part of the user-centred design process and let us assess the level of usability of the tools we design.
The results of the tests help us identify improvements or rectifications that need to be made to the decisions taken.
Likewise, it is a very enriching process, helping to forge closer links with our users and to get a better idea of their needs and expectations.
In a post a few weeks ago, we explained how the UOC Library had designed a new website, based on UCD methods, and how we had carried out a user test. The objective of this test was to assess aspects including navigation, content organization, some of the basic functions, the new design and the terminology used. The tests were carried out with students, faculty and researchers.
Some of the most important conclusions that may be of general interest included:
Resource search. Most of the teaching staff preferred using the internet, Google Scholar or databases they already knew. Half of the students would use the siteâ€™s search engine.
What do they do when they canâ€™t find an article? Most of the teaching staff would use the Libraryâ€™s Document Supply Service, while students would first try Google Scholar or the Libraryâ€™s help service.
Personalized information. The participants assessed all the sections and functions that allow for some kind of personalization of the information, including:
- Consulting loans and reservations made.
- Consulting resources on a subject area.
- New acquisition recommendations by user profile (based on the area of study or work and on loans and searches made).
- Recommended resources or those related to studentsâ€™ courses.
- Recommendation of resources to be added to Virtual Campus classrooms.
Content organization. Differentiation between resources and services, which is so common at university libraries, was not immediately obvious to all users.
The personalized service. Students appreciate the personalization of the style and the ability to identify the librarians responsible for each service.
Self-training. Most users positively rated the video format as a channel for selfâ€‘training. They also positively rated the fact that there were videos offering different levels of depth into the subjects, going from basic to more advanced knowledge.
Content for researchers. The contents on offer in the websiteâ€™s Research section were rated positively, but there was a wide range of opinions on what contents might be included in this section.
Design. The fact that the Universityâ€™s brand was recognizable was rated positively, as was the siteâ€™s clear design.
If you would like to see the report with the full results, you can find it in the UOCâ€™s institutional repository (in Catalan).
Interesting related links:
- The Open University presents theÂ results of its activitiesÂ to involve students in the development of new tools in this post.
- TheÂ presentationÂ by the User Experience Department at the Library of the University of Michigan on its functions, the methods used and some of the results obtained.
Cross-posted with iCommunity blog.
1. Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (The Open University of Catalonia, UOC)
As a result of aÂ user-centred designÂ (DCU) process, this new websiteÂ emphasizes the single search box, better explanations, quality and transparency applied to the Libraryâ€™s services and processes.
2.Â The University of York
They have redesigned and restructured their website in response to the userâ€™s feedback. They also highlight a new toolÂ which allows you to submit enquiries online and search FAQs.
3. The University of North Carolina
They highlight the following enhancements: aÂ single highly visible search box on the front page, front-and-center placement of the most requested links, information about libraries and places to study and a calendar of upcoming events.
4. Universidad de Navarra
UNAV library website change to fit the design and style of the University website.
We can see that most of them agree on emphasize elements such as the search engine, customer service, access to resources and news and events.
The new website has been produced with user-centred design (DCU) criteria. DCU is a vital tool for developing solutions that focus on meeting usersâ€™ needs. Based on this premise, the main drive for the project has been to identify the problems users find when using the current website, and their needs and expectations. To collect information, we analysed the user surveys on the workings of the Virtual Library over the last year. More than 30 real and potential users were interviewed (including University staff, students and faculty). Beyond this initial collection of information, we also carried out user tests throughout the development process to assess the usability of the site being put together. All these elements have led to the user being put at the centre of the process, a key element in DCU.
The result is a website that meets the following objectives:
- To act as a key tool for consultation and reference for UOC students and anyone linked to the University.
- To become an efficient channel for communication to publicize the services and resources on offer. The information has been organized logically, linking content and offering access from different points of entry.
- To strengthen new user links and loyalty, and provide a showcase for the services and contents offered by the Library, providing better explanations and increased visibility. One of the main challenges is to further publicize and better explain the services offered by the Library and what they involve.
- To highlight the quality and transparency applied to the Libraryâ€™s services and processes. The Library informs its users about the access they have to the services and electronic resources, and under what conditions, in accordance with their profile. For each service, the Library details the level of quality it commits to.
- To provide a user-friendly service thanks to its informal and attractive design, and by identifying the people responsible for the different services and contents on offer. The idea is to give a name and a face to the people working at the Library and providing the services.
- To offer users a simple and easy to use and understand tool that lets them quickly work out where they need to go to find what they are looking for. We have worked hard to organize and present the contents in a logical way for the different types of user.
- To include a training section that allows users to act and use the website independently for research, database queries, etc.
With regard to the technical details, the website has been developed on the Drupal platform and is available in three languages: Catalan, English and Spanish. It has over 500 pages and incorporates another 7 tools:
- The search engine for the Libraryâ€™s resources (Summon)
- The institutional repository (DSpace)
- The Libraryâ€™s catalogue (Millennium)
- The meta search engine for electronic resources (MetaLib)
- The link resolver (SFX)
- The UOCâ€™s query and incident management system
- The Virtual Campus user management system
The project has been made possible thanks to collaboration between the Virtual Library department and the Office of Learning Technologies. Currently, during the beta, testing and improvement phases, we are working each day to ensure it grows and responds to the needs of the whole of the UOC community.
Have a look round, give us your opinion and take part in our project.
Cross-posted with iCommunity blog.
The Universitat Oberta de CatalunyaÂ (Open University of Catalonia, UOC) employs user-centered design in all technological projects it develops. However, this process is not only valid for user interface design, but for any kind of product or service design.
User-centered design is
“a process in which the needs, wants, and limitations ofÂ end usersÂ of aÂ productÂ are given extensive attention at each stage of theÂ design process”.
For example, the process is applicable to libraries when designing and improving their service.
Likewise, LITA, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), provides training on how to apply the UCD process in libraries.Â Other institutions, such as Oregon State University, also favour this process and apply it in their daily activities. So OSU library has its ownÂ usability team.
However, most of the examples that we can find today are processes applied to user interfaces, such as the library’s website.
- User-centered information architecture of University Library Website
- User-Centered Design and Usability Testing of a Web Site: An Illustrative Case Study
The James Madison University Libraries explainÂ the process they followed to redesign their site.
We also found some examples involving the catalogue interface.
In this presentation, the Hamburg libraries talk about their experience with the Beluga project, the new library catalogue for the Hamburg libraries’ collections. They explain the results of focus group sessions with users regarding Beluga and offer some examples of other library services that they have analysed.
The case study of LIBRIS, the Swedish National UnionÂ Catalogue, is explained here: