The Instruction and Outreach Department manages and coordinates library research instruction for students, faculty and staff through course-related workshops, outreach activities, personal consultations, research guides and other instructional materials.

Our blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds.
If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The "U" Word

This week, several of us at Perkins gave a presentation at the LAUNC-CH Conference on creating a user-centered library.  Our presentation title was "Know Thy User: the Duke Libraries User Studies Initiative" and we talked about the initiative as a staff development effort and looked at the two studies that are underway as part of the initiative.

Our presentation title comes from Microsoft’s Arnie Lund, who famously exhorted “Know thy user, and you are not thy user.”  The User Studies Initiative is designed to get us past assumptions and presumptions about our users by building staff competence and confidence in doing user studies.  We’re trying to create a group of library staff who have the skills and comfort level necessary to do quantitative and qualitative studies – not necessarily large generalizeable ones, but local studies that can help us make changes to services and collections.   

The heart of the presentation was reports by Linda Daniel, Shawn Miller, and Emily Daly on the two studies they’re conducting.  Emily’s study looks at students writing honors theses at the beginning, midpoint and end of their research and writing process.  Linda and Shawn interviewed faculty and grad students in the Cultural Anthropology department to better understand their research and teaching processes, using a research approach adapted from the "Multidimensional Framework for Academic Support" conducted at the University of Minnesota.

The “U” word – users – is on our minds these days.  Actually, it's good to think of multiple “U” words: user, usability, usage.  We tend to conflate user studies with usability testing and analysis of use of collections and services, but they are different concepts that demand different kinds of studies.  Improving the user experience is a strategic direction in the Libraries new Strategic Plan, Sharpening Our Vision.  We want to “understand library users’ research and library experiences and use that information to shape collections, spaces and services.”  The User Studies Initiative is one way to help us accomplish that goal.

No comments:

Post a Comment