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Library Print Collections UX Study

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In April 2017, the UX Team explored how library users engage with our print collection to help  the Collections & Content Team make decisions about the re-location of the collection after renovations.

Research Questions

  • How do users engage with the library’s print collection?


  • We conducted interviews and customer journey mapping with 15 undergraduate participants
  • We completed a document analysis of interviews conducted with 11​ ​faculty​ ​members​ in early 2016 for a previous UX study which explored their use of the library

What did we Learn?

  • Students find navigating and accessing the print collection to be time-consuming and frustrating
  • Students consider online resources to be more convenient than print material, and prefer an online option
  • There is a general sense that the print collection is “old” and irrelevant, especially for subjects where new information is critical to their work
  • Even if students prefer online resources, or more study space, they considered books a defining feature of the library and wouldn’t want to see them eliminated

Our Recommendations

  • Add subject specific language to the call number signs both in the stacks and in the stairwells
  • Make the ‘‘Where is it?’ function more specific; down to the individual shelving unit
  • Weed older and rarely used books to both change this perception and promote easier navigation of the collection
  • Improve visibility and clarity on the website about how borrowing from TUG and interlibrary loan work
  • Implement an online browsing feature

Year of Study


The library is committed to ensuring that members of our user community with disabilities have equal access to our services and resources and that their dignity and independence is always respected. If you encounter a barrier and/or need an alternate format, please fill out our Library Print and Multimedia Alternate-Format Request Form. Contact us if you’d like to provide feedback: lib.a11y@uoguelph.ca