Library usability in higher education: how user experience can form library policy

Wiles, Alison (2015) Library usability in higher education: how user experience can form library policy. Doctoral thesis, University of West London.

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Abstract

The university library has been called “the heart of a university”, but in the past has been described as being “virtually unusable”. This exploratory study is an investigation into user experience and usability in university libraries in the UK, and aims to examine the difference between users’ experience and their expectations of using their university library. It will also investigate university library policies to determine how a user experience policy can help to improve users’ experience.
A user survey was carried out at three UK university libraries, using a questionnaire which asks participants to give their current opinions on their experience of 12 usability properties, and then to rate their expectations of each of the 12 properties. This means that it is then possible to calculate the gap between how the users rate the usability of the library, and how usable it should be. Additionally, a website survey of 121 UK universities was undertaken to see which types of policies UK university libraries have in place, whether a policy for user experience factors exists at these institutions, and if so what the policy covers.
The findings show the areas where the largest gaps between expectations and experience occur. One of the largest gaps at the three institutions concerns the adequacy of the information that users are able to retrieve, and this can be addressed by either improving the library’s performance in this area, or by managing the expectations of library users. The website survey of library policies shows that while there is a core of seven types of library policy, user experience policies are unusual.
Library user experience and usability is undoubtedly a field growing in importance in the eyes of librarians and researchers. By taking the “lived experiences” of users into account, and doing this in conjunction with a user experience policy, the university library can become a place of continuous improvement.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Computing
Library and information sciences
Depositing User: Marzena Dybkowska
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2016 09:32
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2016 23:00
URI: http://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1473

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