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Researching researchers
Delivering a systematic user research
programme in a research library
RLUK Conference, London, 22 ...
www.bl.uk 2
The BL in a changing environment
• Living Knowledge articulates the
vision of the British Library in 2023
as t...
www.bl.uk 3
Service Strategy for Research
Find
• Help users find
information from
our collection
and global
sources
Use
• ...
www.bl.uk 4
Reading Room research
Reader Observation & Interviewing has
run from May-September 2018 and
November 2018-Febr...
www.bl.uk 5
Differences between Reading Room users
We have uncovered some differences between users of our General Collect...
www.bl.uk 6
Shared feedback across the Reading Rooms
 Readers across all the Reading Rooms expressed general approval
of ...
www.bl.uk 7
Use of our material in Reading Rooms
Nearly 40% are
NOT using it
that day
61% Using our material
19.5% NOT usi...
www.bl.uk 8
Public Areas Research
We have also monitored who has
been using the Public Areas in our
St Pancras site & inte...
www.bl.uk 9
Public Areas Research
We have also monitored who has
been using the Public Areas in our
St Pancras site & inte...
www.bl.uk 10
Public Areas Research
Just over half of these Public
Area researcher/ workers are
NOT Readers, and therefore
...
www.bl.uk 11
Public Areas Research
Readers
Main reasons for using
area:
- Need for
refreshments, & phone
calls/meetings
NO...
www.bl.uk 12
Segmentation
These have been proven by this on-site research in Reading Rooms and
Public Areas:
47.2%
14.4% 1...
www.bl.uk 13
13
Non-users:
Research design and methodology
• 1,000 online
interviews
• 15 minute survey
• Analysis of
spec...
www.bl.uk 14
Profile of non-users: quantitative
London: 11%
South East: 14%
Rest: 74%
Male: 38%
Female: 62%
18-24: 11%
25-...
www.bl.uk 15
Key reasons for non-use of services
Reading Rooms Interlibrary loanOnline
Catalogues
Business & IP
Centre
45%...
www.bl.uk 16
Top ‘must-have’ requirements of research facilities
52
54
60
61
64
40
34
35
28
33
8
13
5
11
4
Subject-specifi...
www.bl.uk 17
Online searches were the first port of call for the
majority
• Online was seen to provide
– Access to worldwi...
www.bl.uk 18
Offline research came further into the journey
• Having identified relevant online data
sources (or failing t...
www.bl.uk 19
Use of libraries was driven by 2 key needs
Research support Working environment
• Helpful staff with speciali...
www.bl.uk 20
Research raised awareness of BL and participants see
value of using its services
• Overall, participants were...
www.bl.uk 21
Building on the online offer
• The online catalogue and digital collections hold greatest scope for
attractin...
www.bl.uk 22
Conclusion
Importance of agency expertise and quality of
recruitment to reach across UK.
Mixed methods – inte...
www.bl.uk 23
Questions and answers
What user research are you doing?
Is there anything RLUK libraries could
usefully do to...
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Researching researchers Delivering a systematic user research programme in a research library

Paper given with Sally Halper and Fiona McCarthy at the 2019 RLUK conference on a programme of user research currently underway at the British Library. A video recording is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vh8il-Eur7E

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Researching researchers Delivering a systematic user research programme in a research library

  1. 1. Researching researchers Delivering a systematic user research programme in a research library RLUK Conference, London, 22 March 2019 These slides available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license Sally Halper, Head of Content and Service Strategy Sally.Halper@bl.uk Fiona McCarthy, Research Services Insight Manager Fiona.McCarthy@bl.uk Dr Torsten Reimer, Head of Research Services Torsten.Reimer@bl.uk / 0000-0001-8357-9422
  2. 2. www.bl.uk 2 The BL in a changing environment • Living Knowledge articulates the vision of the British Library in 2023 as the most open, creative and innovative institution of its kind in the world. • A new Service Strategy for research and a new Content Strategy. • Everything Available is a strategic change management portfolio designed to deliver the transformation of the Library’s services to researchers and research organisations.
  3. 3. www.bl.uk 3 Service Strategy for Research Find • Help users find information from our collection and global sources Use • Help researchers use information to create new knowledge Share • Help organisations share knowledge to facilitate re- use Needs to be informed by an understanding of our (diverse) user community!
  4. 4. www.bl.uk 4 Reading Room research Reader Observation & Interviewing has run from May-September 2018 and November 2018-February 2019 with the aims to:  Find out who is using us & why, what they do when they’re here, & how easy they find it to use our services & facilities.  See if there are differences between the needs and experiences of users of our General Collections and Special Collections, associated with the nature of the collection material. We have observed and interviewed 150 Readers across all the Reading Rooms.
  5. 5. www.bl.uk 5 Differences between Reading Room users We have uncovered some differences between users of our General Collections Reading Rooms & those in our Special Collections Reading Rooms: General Collections Special Collections Profile • A high proportion of Students & Business researchers here Pains • Particular problems with finding journals, but also dislikes of Reading Room 'rules' Gains • Higher approval of work environment, & suggestions for longer opening hours Profile • A high share of Academic Authors & Senior Academics Pains • Higher share of 'pains' overall, but particularly with finding Special Collections items Gains • More vociferous with their approval of our range of material, especially 'niche' stock
  6. 6. www.bl.uk 6 Shared feedback across the Reading Rooms  Readers across all the Reading Rooms expressed general approval of their experience: Most had joined within the last two years, and the majority were coming several times a week The majority lived in London, with the most popular age bracket being 25-34 year olds “Exceptionally good work space” “The only place I know I can get the books – it’s worth the travel” (a Canadian) “invaluable resource” “a space of solace”
  7. 7. www.bl.uk 7 Use of our material in Reading Rooms Nearly 40% are NOT using it that day 61% Using our material 19.5% NOT using our material 19.5% Not using our material that day, but are previous users We intend to increase the proportion of users of ‘Discovery’ BL content/access & systems, and will be setting ourselves an internal target
  8. 8. www.bl.uk 8 Public Areas Research We have also monitored who has been using the Public Areas in our St Pancras site & interviewed 150 people, and found that, with over 400 seats: 61%of this space is being used by people for research/work, with peaks in the Summer – c.250 seats each day. Average Reading Room users 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 Average Reading Room users
  9. 9. www.bl.uk 9 Public Areas Research We have also monitored who has been using the Public Areas in our St Pancras site & interviewed 150 people, and found that, with over 400 seats: 61%of this space is being used by people for research/work, with peaks in the Summer – c.250 seats each day. Average Reading Room users0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 Average Reading Room users Average ‘extra’ workers in Public Areas A significant boost to the amount of people we knew were using our site for work.
  10. 10. www.bl.uk 10 Public Areas Research Just over half of these Public Area researcher/ workers are NOT Readers, and therefore not using our materials, but using our space. 47% Current Readers 51% NOT Readers 2% Lapsed Readers
  11. 11. www.bl.uk 11 Public Areas Research Readers Main reasons for using area: - Need for refreshments, & phone calls/meetings NON Readers Main issues: - 3 in 5 are unaware of benefits of being a Reader, & unsure how to sign up Main reasons for using area: - Over 80% said they need the working space More than half of NON Readers want "more tables & chairs" For Readers, the most frequent request is for "cheaper catering"
  12. 12. www.bl.uk 12 Segmentation These have been proven by this on-site research in Reading Rooms and Public Areas: 47.2% 14.4% 13.1% 10.8% 8.8% 3.2% 1.6% 0.6% ‘Academics’ = • 23% undergraduates & below • 44% postgraduates • 33% lecturers, professors etc ‘Authors’ = Two thirds writing/editing for academic publications, one third for public/commercial ones ‘Professionals’ = a wide range, from policy officers in Govt/charities, to journalists, lawyers & freelancers
  13. 13. www.bl.uk 13 13 Non-users: Research design and methodology • 1,000 online interviews • 15 minute survey • Analysis of specific researcher types • Report profiling non-users, insight on reasons for non-use • Cluster analysis • 24 tele-depth interviews across main researcher types • Average of 50 minutes Set-up Analysis and reporting Set-up Analysis and reporting Fieldwork • Review of existing evidence • Sampling • Questionnaire design Fieldwork Phase 1 Phase 2 • Recruitment through Accent’s telephone unit • Collaborative analysis across moderation team
  14. 14. www.bl.uk 14 Profile of non-users: quantitative London: 11% South East: 14% Rest: 74% Male: 38% Female: 62% 18-24: 11% 25-34 14% 35-49: 30% 50-64: 27% 65+: 18% AB: 34% C1: 32% C2: 13% DE: 17% N/A: 3% Disability: 35% No disability: 65% Personal research: 51% Business: 13% Public/Third Sector: 7% Academic: 23% Prof. further education 6% Overall sample: 1,013 Main type of research established through quotas
  15. 15. www.bl.uk 15 Key reasons for non-use of services Reading Rooms Interlibrary loanOnline Catalogues Business & IP Centre 45% Too far away 32% Never considered it 30% Happy with other sources 37% Didn’t know it existed 33% Never considered it 30% Too far away 35% Didn’t know it existed 31% Never considered it 37% Happy with other sources 33% Never considered it 27% Didn’t know it existed Q28. What are the reasons you`re not currently using these services? Base: All participants, n=1,013
  16. 16. www.bl.uk 16 Top ‘must-have’ requirements of research facilities 52 54 60 61 64 40 34 35 28 33 8 13 5 11 4 Subject-specific search services Bookable rooms for working with colleagues or co- researchers Free of charge service Free WiFi Being able to access information instantly % participants This is a must-have Nice to have, but not essential I don`t need this • But when prioritising the top priorities… 23% 19% 16% Q18. Please indicate whether for you these would be must-have attributes, nice but not essential, or if you would not need them. Base: All participants, n= 1,013.
  17. 17. www.bl.uk 17 Online searches were the first port of call for the majority • Online was seen to provide – Access to worldwide resources from their desk/home – Time efficient – Often free of charge information – An easy way to make contact with people – The start point for most research journeys  Most commonly mentioned starting point  Followed by specialist/specific websites to delve further  Trust is an important factor  However, once beyond Google, there was an inherent trust in information from specialist/corporate websites  With some believing their area of interest unlikely to generate ‘untrustworthy’ online information
  18. 18. www.bl.uk 18 Offline research came further into the journey • Having identified relevant online data sources (or failing to), for many the offline search began  Offline sources were topic specific:  books / documents / magazines / journals  When only the physical document/book would meet the research need  For academic research, to meet course requirements to cover a wide spectrum of on/offline sources  Libraries played a key role  Sourcing from own (e.g. local or University) library  Sourcing from other libraries transferred to local one
  19. 19. www.bl.uk 19 Use of libraries was driven by 2 key needs Research support Working environment • Helpful staff with specialist knowledge to meet specialist research need • Insufficient space to store relevant books at home • Local library = local knowledge • Preference/need for working from paper/physical documents Sense of community Nice environment to work in: • Wi-Fi access • Quiet space/room to think and lack of distractions • Café/refreshments • Not time efficient when on a deadline • Information not specific enough to meet requirements • For some, incurred unwanted costs eg parking, refreshments • Too busy/noisy • Some experience of high demand/unavailable books However, barriers to library use were common
  20. 20. www.bl.uk 20 Research raised awareness of BL and participants see value of using its services • Overall, participants were very positive about potential use of the BL: – 7 would definitely use in the future – 12 would possibly/most likely use in the future – 3 would probably not use in the future – 2 would definitely not use in the future. • Key motivations to use the BL: – Awareness of services raised – Vast amount of online sources/services available – Appeal to use offline services for less pressing research (e.g. hobby etc). • Key barriers to use: – Awareness of services – Picking up the reader pass in London – Feeling of not being able to assess usefulness of BL/RP before getting RP “Because this translation work, the speed is really important, the deadline is nearly always like, 'oh can you do it in 2 days and 3 days?' That kind of thing, so, yes, but in future, I'm sure I can just view myself sitting in the reading room and just at leisure and just looking at beautiful manuscripts or something.” Fair (research) Future, Business (translations) Ambivalent Academics slightly more cautious about use than Fair (research) Future and Keen Researchers. The latter are the most positive group in this regard (with half saying they would definitely use the BL in future)
  21. 21. www.bl.uk 21 Building on the online offer • The online catalogue and digital collections hold greatest scope for attracting new users. • The BL’s online offering should tap into researchers’ need for information at speed/easily – This will also combat the perception of some that it would be difficult to find the information they need in the Library’s vast resources • Non-users are looking for a simple, streamlined design • Biggest single barrier = need to physically visit the Library to get the Reader pass to access Reader-only information. Publisher concerns mean we have to keep this for licensed content, but in future BL may develop different types of registration, giving access to different content/service levels.
  22. 22. www.bl.uk 22 Conclusion Importance of agency expertise and quality of recruitment to reach across UK. Mixed methods – interviews, observation and online - and triangulation. Segmentation and testing hypotheses. Value Proposition Design www.strategyzer.com Future direction • Easier registration, search and access and clearer onward journeys • Online open service(s).
  23. 23. www.bl.uk 23 Questions and answers What user research are you doing? Is there anything RLUK libraries could usefully do together? Questions for us? Contact Fiona McCarthy Research Services Insight Manager fiona.mccarthy@bl.uk

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