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User Knowledge Management – How University Libraries Analyse User Needs and Develop Services

Conference contribution
Authors Håkan Carlsson
Tore Torngren
Published in Proceedings of the 39th annual IATUL conference
Publication year 2018
Published at Gothenburg University Library, Library Office
Language en
Keywords User knowlegde management, methods for quality development
Subject categories Library and information science


The demands on library services are quickly changing in a continually updating digital age. This increases the importance of a good understanding of the needs and demands of the users. In order to sample and follow the change in user needs library organisations analyse their efforts using a series of different methods. In a recent survey distributed to all 301 European LIBER university libraries, we asked questions pertaining to methods for quality development, particularly implementation of general user surveys (GUS). Among the 127 answering libraries (42%) we analysed how library services can be developed via a user-centred approach. In general, libraries engaged in explorative methods, such as UX techniques or process mapping, displayed an increased understanding of what the users find as library strengths. On the other hand libraries using primarily reporting tools such as balanced scorecard showed little or no such effect. The library strengths most valued by users in the study were in the areas of the physical library, researcher support - especially in the area of scholarly communication - and information literacy tuition. Several answers indicate that user feedback has helped build institutional profile and image. The results also give an indication of how general user surveys can best be used. Appropriate follow-up after the survey is important in gaining usable results. The key step was the production of a written report, which resulted in a nearly 50% increased chance of obtaining changes in services. Most libraries developed their own surveys for the effort. Services most commonly changed after performing a GUS were in the areas of the physical library, followed by communication/marketing and information literacy tuition. A GUS most often leads to a number of minor service improvements rather than large strategic shifts. This work was commissioned and supported by the former LIBER Working Group on Research and Education.

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