chapter  6
16 Pages

The why, what and how of using ethnography for designing user experience in libraries (and a few pitfalls to avoid)


It is not as though we lack for user data in libraries. Librarians gather lots of data about users. Statistical data such as those gathered by SCONUL in the UK, ACRL in the US, and Die Deutsche Bibliotheksstatistik (DBS) in Germany are useful for tracking long-term trends and comparing institutions, but they give frustratingly little context. They leave many of us asking questions such as: A book was checked out, but did it fulfi l the user’s need or did they get it home and realize it was off-topic? Did they run out of time to read it? A user came in the door, but did they use the restroom and leave immediately or were they there to ask a question or spend the day wrestling with Heidegger? A user visited the website and closed the browser tab after 3 minutes. What did they plan to do or fi nd on the site? Did they fi nd it and leave quickly or did they get frustrated and close the browser tab?