You Asked, We Listened

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March 7, 2022, 3 p.m.
Part of the Libraries’ outreach to users includes finding ways to get feedback
white board with red and pink and orange and purple post-it notes

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:

When asked: [Do you prefer] This or That? we learned:

When asked to write a love letter (or breakup letter) to the Libraries, users said:

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.

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