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Collection Signage UX Study

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8am - 10pm

All service hours

The UX Team wanted to understand how students locate and retrieve physical library items. We talked to a mix of undergraduate and graduate students in July 2018.

Research Question

  • How do students locate and access physical books in the library?
  • Which signage (if any) do they use to help them wayfind?
  • What helps and what hinders students in the process of finding books?


  • We conducted “follow-alongs” with six students (three undergrads and three grads). Participants were given the citations of three books and asked to find them in the stacks. They were directed to talk out loud as they completed the tasks. We observed their behaviour and asked clarification and follow-up questions along the way.
  • A brief literature scan for articles on physical collection signage was also conducted.

What did we Learn?

  • Users relied heavily on the “Where is it?” function in Primo to locate the books in the stacks
  • The only physical signage participants used was the stackend signage, which they believed could be modernized
  • When we directed users attention to the floor maps located outside of the elevators, they found them completely unusable

Our Recommendations

  • Add subject area headings to stackend signage to assist users with finding and browsing material
  • Increase the size of stackend signage
  • Remove the word “Books” from stackend signage. Not only is it inaccurate, but it serves little purpose
  • Reorient the floor maps so they reflect the way users are actually facing, rather than oriented to true north
  • Create posters/ visual aids to assist in general wayfinding
  • Design creative, joyful signage that inspires

Year of Study


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