You Asked, We Listened
By Natalie LoRusso, Reference and User Experience Librarian and Greg Dachille, Graduate Student in School of Education and Libraries employee
Part of the Libraries’ outreach to users includes finding ways to get feedback. Sometimes that takes the form of surveys or focus groups, other times we might table and ask people for their input as they walk by, and often we will review comments and suggestions provided through our website or social media channels. Over the past academic year, we’ve experimented with using a “Talk Back Board” located on the first floor of Bird Library.
The Talk-Back Board is an asynchronous research method used to better understand the needs, pain points, and feedback from library users. We adopted the idea from the University of Arizona's UX Cookbook. Over this academic year, we’ve posted various prompt questions on the board and encouraged people to share their thoughts, ideas, and suggestions with us by simply writing them down on a sticky post-it note, through the use of stickers, and through writing on posters. We collected those notes, input them into a spreadsheet to sort and aggregate, and when possible, we’ve used that feedback to act.
As an example, the free coffee during Finals Week in December 2021 was our answer to user frustration over the semester-long closure of Pages Cafe. After implementing the pilot Talk-Back Board in early November 2021, we learned that Pages Café stood out as a priority for library users. More than half of the 20+ sticky notes mentioned Pages Café or seconded other sticky notes with similar input. We shared this information with Libraries' administration, who then coordinated with Syracuse University Dining Services to provide free coffee during finals week.
Here are other examples of insights gleaned through the Talk Back Board.
When asked: How do the Libraries help you succeed? users answered:
- “Gives me motivation to start my assignments when I see other hard workers around me.”
- “They let me print stuff last minute”
- “It’s a great space for me to collaborate with my classmates!”
- “I like [the] smell of old books.”
- “Rachel helping me search for sources for my research paper”
- “Love ILLiad”
- “I can use SPSS for free”
- “I can surround myself with people that I know are determined to get their work done like me.”
- “So many helpful resources and great facilities to not only do academic work, but to relax with friends.”
When asked: [Do you prefer] This or That? we learned:
- Students prefer quiet spaces to collaborative ones, laptops over desktop computer stations, and print books over eBooks.
- We noted that several users placed stickers on the dividing line between Newspapers and Magazines, and Board Games and Puzzles. This tells us that these resources are equally important to users. Now we’re brainstorming how we can further promote our Board Game collection.
When asked to write a love letter (or breakup letter) to the Libraries, users said:
- "I’m grateful for printers"
- "It’s a great place to relax"
- "Place to peacefully study"
- "A place to cry over organic chemistry"
- "A place to go when I can’t be in my dorm"
- "Wonderful library staff"
- "Libraries accept everyone"
- "Somebody needs to perform maintenance on your AC because YOU ARE SO HOT!!"
- "People shouldn’t use the library as a phone booth or the set of a talk show"
So, what does all this mean? We want to hear from you. We want to know what’s working well at the Libraries and what can improve. We want you to know that the Libraries is your space and resource, and your feedback is important to us. So know that when we ask, we not only listen but we take action too.