Skip to Main Content
Ekstrom Library

Ekstrom Library 1 East Renovation Project: Assessment Report

In 2014-2015 Ekstrom Library renovated its first floor east side. View the project description, timeline, documents, and photographs.


Submitted by:

Maurini Strub
Trish Blair
Melissa Laning
Samantha McClellan
15th May, 2014 

Executive Summary


As Ekstrom Library rethinks its spaces, with hopes of consolidating services and improving student spaces on the 1st floor, the library embarked on an assessment of the 1 st floor, focusing on the east side. We sought to learn how and why users utilize the 1st floor. This report serves as one piece of the puzzle as we rethink this space.


A combination of methods were used to collect data about the 1st floor:

Methods for collecting data
Observations Student staff collected information on usage of spaces and what objects visibly surrounded them on the desk. Data was collected at strategic intervals based on semester and daily patterns.  
White boards Placed in strategic locations in reference, Media, the Browsing Collection and the Learning Commons Computer Lab, patrons were periodically given the opportunity to interact with 3 prompts - how, why, they used a space and how the space could be improved 
Focus groups These were conducted for users and modified versions for staff and partners  
Charrettes This exercise was given to the Libraries Student Advisory Board with emerging trends for guidelines. Charrette designs also emerged from the Reference Department in response to a question about the 3-5 year outlook on Reference/Information Literacy
Datasets Door counts, computer usage and correlating demographic data, desk transaction data as well as the 2012 & 2014 Benchmark surveys were utilized to learn who and how users utilized spaces. 

Finding & Recommendations


Layout and function presented challenges especially with aesthetic dichotomy of the east and west wings, and discovery of spaces. Users desired a mix of independent and group spaces and technology spaces with furniture that supported the usage of the space. Proximity to highly trafficked increased desirability of locations for meeting peers and influenced choosing a space. Noise levels continue to be a concern for patrons and desired staff enforcement of quiet spaces. Finally the desire for natural light was a repeated theme in spaces.

Select Recommendations

  • Clearly define spaces’ form and function
  • Increase the visibility/discovery of group spaces
  • Create technology enhanced spaces conducive to group work 


Users expressed confusion over what services might be included in a “Learning Commons”. Users also experienced a disconnect with why borrowing an item happened at the ‘back’ of the library and learning which desk provided what services was a challenge. It was felt that Media’s proximity to the high-use east entrance, made it the de facto information desk and the natural place to go to check out any item. Users expressed a repeated need for central information/service desk near the east entrance staffed by people with the expertise to provide answers and reduce ‘desk-bounce’. While organizational relationships were unclear, many expressed the desire to consolidate service points and collocate similar resources/services.

Select Recommendations

  • Make function and purpose of current and future service points clear
  • Cross-train all staff to reduce ‘desk-bounce
  • Defining the function of Ekstrom west and providing ancillary services to support that function  


Physical barriers present hindrances to discovery of the first floor. While architectural constraints present some real challenges, users suggested that relocation of the Browsing Collection would improve sight lines. Most users didn’t recall seeing existing signage. They also reported that digital signage was often above eye level or had static enough content that they ignored it. Most requests for signage focused on directories or interactive kiosks. Users also felt that the library needed to do a better job of promoting collections and services offered by the library. Additionally, there was some interest in developing a space to share information about faculty/student accomplishments to provide a venue of cross-campus collaborations. Finally, users recommended that color could be used to help provide visual cues to help navigate the space.

Select Recommendations

  • Reduce Browsing Collection’s foot print to open up sight lines
  • Lower ceiling height signage and displays
  • Use semi-transparent walls when creating new spaces to increase the ability to assess the area  


There is a high level of dissatisfaction, among staff and users, with printing services in the library. Users report unreliability with printing the same file from desktop to desktop. For users who were aware of quick print stations, there was a need for more. For some users printing stations were not immediately discoverable. Staff expressed a dire need for real-time support with printing and technology. Card readers inconsistently work and users desire an alternative to the card reader system.

Select Recommendations

  • Make printing stations more visible by relocating and or improving signage.
  • Provide an alternative to the card swiping system for payment
  • Install a technology support/help desk within the LCCL  


While the data revealed a variety needs and challenges, library users desired:

  • Easily discovered clearly defined spaces that supported group and independent work
  • Clarity of the function and purpose of services with a reduction in referral to another service point
  • Improved sight lines and navigation aids
  • Increased printing and technology support 



Recently, Ekstrom Library has been rethinking its spaces. The Libraries 2012 Benchmark Survey revealed the need for quiet study spaces. In response, Ekstrom Library renovated the 4th floor and converted it to quiet study. However, architectural constraints in the east wing – specifically, open floors between the 3rd & 4th floors and the 1st & 2nd floors – suggested that that the paired floors should have matching noise levels. Currently, the 3rd floor houses the heavily trafficked Writing Center. With thoughts of improving the users’ experience by consolidating services on the entry level and improving functionality by grouping similar activities, we sought to learn how and why users use the 1st floor. Focusing on the east side, most data was collected during the Spring 2014 semester; longitudinal data that was already being collected for other purposes is also included for trend identification. This report serves as one piece of the puzzle as Ekstrom Library rethinks this space.


The door counts from both the east and west doors were analyzed to identify times of the semester when certain research methods would be likely to be more successful. After a project plan (Appendix A) was developed, a work group was formed to help implement the methods of data collection and analyze the data.


Conducted during the 2nd, 7th, and 11th weeks of the semester, observations were slated during peak usage times. On weekdays this occurred during: 10AM, noon, 3PM, 6PM, and 9PM with minor exclusions and/or time modifications to accommodate days we opened or closed earlier.

Using primarily student staff from Circulation, Media Resources, and Reference Department, students were provided a map (Appendix B) where they initially recorded the number of users in a particular area (noting groups) and what they had surrounding them – specifically laptops, tablets, mobile devices, books and stacks of papers. Student supervisors were trained in recording the information, and then delegated the task with their discretion. To reduce student staff discomfort in recording information and allay user concerns, student staff were provided with a handout (Appendix C) explaining what they were doing should the need arise.

After the first round of observations, a debriefing was held where students shared what worked well and what needed improvement. Out of this meeting, later observations were recorded using a printed table instead of recording directly on the maps. All observations were compiled into a spreadsheet for analysis, primarily by Tracey Washington. An unintended by-product of this debriefing was an unstructured focus group for student employees.

White Boards

During the 3rd, 6th and 10th weeks, white boards with markers were placed in strategic locations in Media, the Galloway Browsing Collection, the Learning Commons Computer Lab and near the computers in the Reference Department with prompts engaging users to respond. In all locations except Reference (whose location predicated the use of a single-sided board), the boards were double-sided to garner responses either upon arrival or departure of the area.

The prompts were:

  • How did you use this space?
  • I chose this spot because…?
  • If only this spot…?

Each board had one ‘seed’ word to encourage participation. Initially prompts were typed with large block fonts, but later changed to hand-written with a playful artistic element to instigate engagement.

Focus Groups

The assessment work group developed an interview protocol that included a moderator script (Appendix D1) with prescribed questions. The format included a mix of engagement questions, exploration questions and an exit question. Each question focused on one topic, was unambiguous, and open-ended. A moderator conducted each session with a camcorder.

Using digital signage in the library, the library’s social media, table tents, and flyers distributed throughout campus, and announcements through UofL Today, library users were recruited for participation. Marketing materials (Appendix D) used the same theme for visual consistency and to improve recognition. The focus groups were held in the Collaborative Learning Center (117A). Food was provided as an incentive. The duration was between 45 minutes and 1 hour. Students were also provided with a collapsible nylon tote bag at the end of the focus group.

Following the observation debriefing, an unstructured focus group was initiated by student employees. An additional focus group was held for all student staff.

All focus group data was professionally transcribed. Using NVivo, data was explored using a constant comparative analytic framework to identify patterns and trends in the data. Data was grouped along similar dimensions, dimensions were named and then arranged in relationship to each other.

Modified Focus Groups - Town Halls

Town Halls were held with library staff and staff from the following partners:

  • The Delphi Center
  • The McConnell Center
  • The Writing Center

Partner town halls consisted of a project update, with an opportunity for partners to address their hopes and concerns for how their constituents use and navigate the 1st floor. This session was recorded via note-taking.

Based on size, staff town halls took the format of a structured focus group or question-driven, group-based work with reporting. Dates for participation were self-selected, but for group-based work, groups were a random assignation of staff from different departments. These sessions were recorded with a video camera and work-group handouts were collected at the end of the session.


Preliminary themes emerging from the focus groups were brought to the Libraries Student Advisory Board (LSAB) for a charrette exercise. Students were provided with a floor plan and paired up to draft design solutions for the 1st floor based on those themes. After 30 minutes, they presented their plans (Appendix G) for group discussion. Plans were converted to digital objects for inclusion in this report.

In response to the Director of Ekstrom Library’s request for what the Reference/Information Literacy will look like in 3-5 years, the reference department split into groups and developed floor plans for the 1st floor as well as reflections on reference services future.

Door Count

Traditionally, Ekstrom Library has collected door count data with the goal of providing a monthly total and annual total of users accessing the building. To better understand patterns of movement, daily data from each entrance was compiled from January 2010 through May of 2013.

Computer Usage

OLT’s Adam Lawrence developed a script that would capture 1st floor computer authentication and session duration for each computer. To help us learn more about these users, this data was then sent to the Office of Institutional Research and Planning who provided demographic data.

Desk Transactions

Historically, libraries have focused on the number of items circulated as a measure of activity. However, to better understand each service point’s activity, we thought it was important to look at the number of interactions happening at their service points. Ekstrom Library already collects this information in the form of reference transaction data compiled for Circulation, Media Resources, and Reference. To provide a more complete picture, Voyager transactions by user count (a large component of interactions at Circulation and Media Resources) were prepared by OLT’s Randy Kuehn from January 2012 – April 2014 for inclusion into this report.

Benchmark Survey 2012 & 2014

In Spring 2012 and 2014, University Libraries conducted a satisfaction survey of all students and faculty. In 2014, marketing material (Appendix E) including digital signage, table tents, posters, yard signs and announcements in UofL Today and the library’s social media were utilized. Additionally, incentives were offered during both rounds, with smaller incentives in 2014. Comparisons between each year’s quantitative data were conducted. Due to the late release, in depth analysis of 2014’s qualitative data has yet to be completed, but will be explored and reported after the release of this report.



Layout & Function

There were many issues that seemed separate but all have to do with the first floor and its aesthetics. Aesthetically, the first floor is a hodge-podge of colors, designs, dated furniture and space ideas. Users desire a collective visual representing the best of modern design within traditional library architecture. The span between construction of the east and west wings has presented an aesthetic dichotomy that was readily remarked and noticed by focus group participants. They expressed a desire to have both sides to be aesthetically aligned. They enjoyed the artwork displayed, even mentioning the recent 1,000 cuts exhibit, and wished there was more art displayed from students and faculty. A common desire was for more cultural outreach in programs throughout campus (e.g. Black History Month and Women’s History Month.)

Starting at the east entrance, users questioned the purpose of the brick wall in-between the east doors and the lobby. As they moved inward, they then noticed the Learning Commons branding and conceptually, found it bewildering. They were unsure if it was a physical space, or concept, or collection of services. Was it for studying or socializing? The current layout of the first floor permits immediate discovery of a seating area within the Browsing Collection, a service point, computers, and small area of tables between Media Resources and REACH. High visibility of seating areas makes them natural landing points for those looking to study or as meeting points. The rest of the area requires the user to put forth effort to find additional spaces and service points.

Although the idea of the browsing collection was well received, the prime location was deemed unnecessary. Some users remarked that the placement of this collection obscured the sightlines of the first floor; users wished the space was more open and desired the ability to see across the entire floor.

Currently, the east wing of the first floor has mixed purposes – computer spaces, independent study spaces, group spaces and four service points.

Independent Spaces

In contrast to the 2012 Benchmark survey, the 2014’s survey, a higher proportion of students reported an increase in frequency of use of library spaces to work alone on an assignment or research project. This may be a by-product of the 4th floor renovation and designation of quiet space. However, the observation study showed popular spaces for this type of usage included the southwest corner of the east wing where there are study carrels as well as the larger tables throughout the reference collection. Additionally, the desire for access to technology near quiet spaces was also expressed; close enough that it could be accessed without but far enough to not be a distraction.

During the observations, despite the conversion of the quiet study room (near the east entrance) to group study users tended to be used by single users or pairs of people quietly studying. Despite its penchant for quietness, the Bingham Poetry Room was the least utilized space during observations, with zero or the occasional solitary user during observations.

Group Spaces

Brief analysis of 2014 Benchmark undergraduate qualitative data shows the desire for group study space. Users perceive that 4th floor group space has not been replaced, and the newly converted group study area on the east side of the 1 st floor was consistently underutilized during all observations, regardless of time of day. When it was in use, it was still being used for independent study. One focus group participant noted that she only learned about its new purpose after she inquired about its location after being invited to an event in that space.

The whiteboard data revealed that the area near Media Resources was primarily treated as a social space; responses tended to be more playful and used by those who weren’t necessarily trying to do serious work. Perhaps the proximity to a dynamic service point did not suggest to users that silence was mandatory. Additionally, furniture in this area supports intimate group-work with smaller round tables and available seating that can be easily pulled to accommodate the group’s needs. Technology in this area is also much more spread out compared to other areas, and accommodates group work better than the Learning Commons Computer Lab. Secondly, whiteboard users selected this space for convenience. Proximity to the entrance provided an easy way to see a friend as soon as they enter the building.

Despite the décor and configuration of the Browsing Collection, whiteboard responses showed that this space was also perceived as a group space. While there were mixed reactions to the aesthetic of the décor of this space, people selected this space primarily because of its practicality. Again, proximity to the door (allowing for people watching), seconded by aesthetic and comfort of the space, were submitted as reasons for using the space. Proximity of this area to the browsing collection was less of a factor. This place provided a meeting space for many and a holding spot for those between classes or en route to another location and actually discouraged browsing of books due to crowding when small groups congregated in the area.

Finally, the observation study also revealed that the banquette seating near the east entrance was used more heavily during the library’s peak periods. During this time, they were used by single users needing room to spread out or by small groups of 2-3 people.


Noise levels continue to be a major concern for users, as expressed in focus groups and the 2014 Benchmark undergraduate qualitative data. The cobblestones were universally disliked by most due to the noise levels created by catering and construction carts, backpacks, and shoes. Users felt that the noise levels in this area were at odds with the relative solitude needed for discovery of books in the Browsing Collection. Group work is normal at a university and students need spaces large enough and well-insulated to not disrupt the nearby users. Without a clear definition of how a space should be used, spaces continue to be defined by user-imposed behavior as seen in whiteboard user responses to comments.

Focus group participants desired more enforcement of the quiet spaces from the library on the 3rd and 4th floors. Students also noted that proximity to a service point and visible staff presence positively influenced enforcement of quiet space. Despite expecting higher noise levels, they also want quiet spaces on the first floor. One user described “the commute to the 4th floor being too far” to find a quiet space, preferring to find them on every floor. There was a large contingent that expressed interest in private rooms to work without the distractions of their fellow students and library users. Many also suggested scheduling software with clearly stated guidelines for reservation time and usage.

Finally, the Learning Commons Computer Lab (LCCL) was a contested space, as it is regularly full during peak periods and can become quite loud. It was felt that it “should be different; it’s either all taken up or people having a good time and I can’t get work done. [I] Need a quiet place for computers.” Any real paper writing/research is difficult due to the noise levels.


Although the furniture of the browsing collection was well received, the location was questioned for the first floor. As for the furniture in the first floor spaces, the largest number of comments is that it is all outdated and mismatched.

“The ones on the first floor just seem a little outdated, and just like plastic lawn chair looking type of chairs and it does not seem like I want to study there. And the study carousels on the first floor there, I think, there is just so much writing from students, they have damaged it. And it is just not a good place to study. It is just really distracting.”

They also thought that using the furniture to define different spaces – possibly color coding the furniture with the spaces – could help the students with the different areas; staff felt that reorganizing the color coded furniture would be an easy task.

The desire for attractive and functional furniture was best expressed by the following:

“But studying in a nice area makes me feel important like I am doing some kind of presidential task or something, I don’t know. A comfortable chair is, I guess, the number one priority. If you did somehow get more comfortable chairs around, especially towards the back that would be great.”

Focus group participants positively remarked on the look of the visor chairs on the 4th floor; however, they do not like that they are used as “make out” spots. Many wish they could be individually dispersed amongst the floors. Sofas were also something they requested, but with removable cushions for easy cleaning.

The computer tables were not favored, as users report not enough room for group work. Similarly, the space is neither clearly defined, nor large enough for personal use. Many questioned how to define the boundaries of their space.

People want to be isolated from each other. “I’d like to see the cubicles on the 4th floor I’d like to see on the 1st floor. I like feeling closed in.” One of the most-liked items on the first floor was the study carrels in the back of the Reference department. They enjoyed the solitude and quiet of that area because of the large windows and the distinct workspaces with the desks.

When it came to group furniture, users suggested that circular tables were more inclusive than square tables by allowing the entire group to easily see everyone. This sentiment coincides n American Sign Language (ASL) and computer work needs. The tables in Reference are too big or have reference books on them taking up valuable space for their belongings.

Light & Color

The ability to look to the outside through the windows to the center of campus was a high priority for most. The desire for more natural light was a repeated theme with the idea that it could be used to create a “less stifling” environment. Users noticed that the brick wall in-between the east doors and the lobby concealed sunlight and creates a dark space for the banquette tables. It was suggested that warm colors, as well as blues and greens that emulated the outside, might re-energize their minds while studying.

One compelling idea from the LSAB charrette designs was the removal of the wall between Media Resources and the Group Study Room with the goal of increasing natural light and openness. Taking down this wall has implications for the compact shelving housed in space between Media Resources and the Group Study Room.

They desire a space to work both collectively and individually with technology fully integrated into both types of spaces.

Low risk / cost
  • Retain a seated meeting spot near the east entrance
  • Clearly define spaces
  • Heavier marketing of group spaces
Medium risk / cost
  • Increased visibility/discovery of group spaces
  • Place open group spaces near to naturally loud areas, such as service points and thoroughfares
  • Introduce partitioned furniture in technology spaces to help define individual space
  • Add daylight lighting to tabletops to mimic natural lighting
High risk / cost
  • Move Media Resources compact shelving collection to the Robotic Retrieval System’s small bins with high use/demand items in the same bins to facilitate easier retrieval during peak periods
    • Remove the wall/room between Media Resources and the Group Study Room
    • Use space created by a possible Media Resources relocation for group space, or collocating high use services
  • Create technology enhanced spaces conducive to group work


Compared to 2012, the 2014 Benchmark data features a higher proportion of undergraduate respondents reported never using library services across the board. This is evident in data that show a decline of Voyager transactions at service points and a decline in Reference transactions at two of three service locations. Although total gate counts for Ekstrom are on a downward trend, the west gate has seen a larger decline without a similar increase through the east gate. Part of this may be attributed to the Speed Museum’s construction closure (in December of 2012) of the 3rd street sidewalk north of the library. It may even suggest that the decline represents the proportion of the population that used Ekstrom as a thoroughfare to campus. 2013-2014 door count data should present an interesting story, especially with the opening of the new 4th Street student recreation center.

Function & Placement

During the focus groups, participants were prompted to list all of the services on the first floor and state their function. A few participants expressed confusion about the term “Learning Commons.”. However, the location of service points throughout the first floor of the library was undeniably the topic about which most participants were most interested and opinionated. The desire to avoid confusion and being bounced around is a theme common throughout the focus groups and town halls.

Focus group comments fell largely into three categories, the:

  • Location of Media;
  • Location of Circulation/the west side of the library; and,
  • Desire for a centralized information/service desk.

The charrette designs and town halls also corroborated this. While the LSAB charrette designs revealed less understanding about the organizational relationships of departments, all plans attempted to group like services and resources to improve the layout. Even though partners like REACH and the Digital Media Suite are not part of the libraries’ organization, only one plan (Appendix G7) incorporated/collocated all technology and technology support into one location.

Non-library focus group participants did not address the placement of Reference. While there were a few comments regarding the lack of visibility of the Reference desk, the dearth of comments regarding Reference is a commentary in itself. When students were prompted to recall the service desks on the first floor and their function, Reference was notably absent. Comments include:

“I knew about the media desk. I did not know about the other one on the reference side.”

“Reference desk – never really seen [went to see] someone there. I don’t even know where it is.”

Two clear themes emerged about the placement of Media’s desk: the proximity to the east side doors and the desire to move Media. Media’s proximity to the front door means Media is often the first place students go for help upon entering the library. “It is easier to ask the media desk, because it’s right there when you walk in” summarizes all proximity-related comments. On the other hand, numerous participants stated that media should be relocated. While several participants stated that Media should be moved to the where the browsing collection is currently located, this implies the retention of their general information desk role. Alternatively, others shared that Media took up too much prime space and should be condensed and/or relocated, without offering alternative ideas using that space. This was also echoed with the charrette designs. At the heart of relocating Media Resources is the desire for a centralized information desk.

The location of the Circulation desk creates confusion for users with the books being on the east (front) side of the library and the checkout area being in the west or “back of the library” (as described by many participants). This contradiction has been labeled “counter-intuitive,” “not really practical,” and “weird”. These excerpts best represent the wealth of sentiments expressed about the contradiction:

“It took me forever, halfway through my first semester to figure that out. Like I kept trying to figure it out, how in the world do I check out a book? I walked around and went to a desk, “No, you need to go to the desk out there.” I walked around and it was like, “where is the checkout desk?” And I realized it was actually in another section, like through another doorway. Oh, it is not in the library. It is in the hallway.”

“Yes, I think that is part of the problem too, is that in building the extension, you have kind of lost the idea of what is the front. And in thinking about it, most people are still entering in from the quad side. So, most people in their minds still view that as the front of the library. So, like you said, I am going to go back to the information desk at the back of the library seems kind of counter-intuitive.”

Others echoed the sentiment, but suggested placing a checkout station on the other side of the library as well:

“I guess the thing that I dislike the most, it is weird. In order to check out and return books you have to walk all the way through the library to the other side. I mean that is what you go to the back door for. I think they could have put a checkout window at the front of the library.”

Again, this directly led into the many comments expressing a need for a central information desk. For many, this was the single best thing that Ekstrom Library could do to improve the users’ experience.

For the role of the proposed centralized service desk, focus group participants expressed a desire for a mixed-methods approach, including both a directory and a person. This centralized desk would point them in the right direction—a desk that knows where to go for what purpose, with some expressing the need for Reference, Media, and Circulation services. Comments below summarize the overwhelming sentiment regarding the desire for a centralized information desk:

“…Reorganizing which desks are which, or at least making it very obvious … like making an information desk right there in the front would be very helpful. Or, like we said, when you first come in you expect the first librarian that you see to be the one who can direct you around. And the media desk does not serve that purpose.”

“Even just a computerized information, like a kiosk, like a computerized kiosk where you can have a touch screen and say “What do you want to do that the library today?” “I want to check out books.” “Go here.” That sort of thing.”

At the heart of feedback on function and placement was the desire for an intuitive library that features a guidepost front-and-center – be it a library employee or directory. Users defined this intuitive library as one where users easily and readily know where they need to go for what purpose. In short, service locations and functions need to be clear. The lack of cohesiveness amongst service points that have user-perceived functional overlap is a notable frustration of users, and our decentralized approach to service contributes to this confusion.

Customer Service

Overwhelmingly, users noted the positive experiences they had, particularly with the service points they interacted with most: Circulation and Media. Given the comments, this partiality for Circulation and Media can be attributed to the placement of those desks and the lack of visibility of other service points.

Several remarked on the student staffing of the desks at all service points, specifically, their perception of expertise of the student staff and inconsistency of the users’ service experience. Confusion about the role of each service point contributes to the perception of our customer service.

While users do not address the cross-training amongst service points, many staff feel that this is key to a successful, consolidated service desk model. Cross-training would need to be extensive to facilitate getting the user to the right location, the first try. Distaste for being “bounced around” is a common theme for users when talking about customer service. Several users noted they received help finding a book at reference; after returning there, they were frustrated at the inability to check out a book at that location. While it organizationally makes sense why Circulation would be separate Reference services, from the user’s standpoint all service desks should provide the same types of service. One student worker noted the frustration of a user who was told that their checkout card/account at Media did not work and they needed to go to Circulation to fix it, and then return to Media to check out the DVD. While this deals with the placement of Services and the disjointedness of each service point where users see obvious overlaps, this is how customer service is affected.


One of the themes brought up by staff was personalized service. From a customer service perspective, it is an attractive idea: instead of pointing or verbally directing a user to a resource/service, the concierge model advocates delivering them to the right spot. While declining transactions at most service points would suggest increased staff flexibility to support this model, it is important to note that should the library create a consolidated service desk, transactions at the single service point would likely increase and staff would have less time for individualized service.

Low risk / cost
  • Make function and purpose of current service points clear
Medium risk / cost
  • Cross-train all service point staff to reduce current “desk-bounce”
  • Collocate like services/resources
  • Place service points in easily discoverable spaces from the major traffic points (e.g. full checkout capability near east and west doors)
High risk / cost
  • Relocation of Media Resources to reduce first contact at east entrance
  • Consolidate personalized transactions to the east side with automated checkout on the west side
  • Defining function of Ekstrom West and providing ancillary services to support that function
  • Identification of universal needs and services that support a centralized information/service desk within the line of sight of east doors and near major traffic path


Physical Barriers

When users come through the east door, users should be able to figure out “where am I, and where should I go to do my thing”. Many users report that the sight lines are terrible. Specifically, one user attributed the blockage to:

“[the browsing collection] bothers me because it splits up the space, that’s the first thing you see. … it definitely does block the flow of traffic. And it’s something that can be housed maybe more to the side…”

Another user suggested that the items be incorporated into the poetry room. “I think they just all need to be together in that space right there. It’s just… [leaves thought unfinished]” From his perspective, splitting up collections was incongruous. The individual felt that the shelves looked unstable and he might knock one over, so he just avoided using the collections. In one of the charrette designs, Media Resources offices were relocated and the browsing collection occupied the vacated space.

There are some architectural constraints that restrict improving sight lines. The stairs, elevator shaft and the large concrete support pillars would require huge infrastructural changes to eliminate this problem. Similarly, a technology/electrical closet opposite the Reference department also obscures sight lines on the second floor. Despite these constraints, there are still opportunities to improve navigation.


When prompted to talk about the signage on the first floor of Ekstrom, focus group participants did not have a lot to say. For the most part, they either did not recall existing signs or did not find them particularly useful. Several comments were made about the unchanging nature of the messages on the digital signs, including the blandness and poor placement (e.g. signs placed above eye-level and/or in areas of heavy foot traffic where users do not stop). As one respondent politely stated, “I think that place is a little bit too discrete.” No one commented on the signs indicating department names or any other library signage on the first floor. One or two comments were made about the visual clutter of the leaflets around the building. The one exception to this relatively negative feedback was the whiteboard at the East entrance with the changing drawings, which was noted for its attractiveness.

Respondents did have quite a bit to say about what types of signage they would find useful. There were numerous comments indicating an interest in signs that provided directory-type information, although most participants voiced ideas that went far beyond the typical “You Are Here” signs in malls or other public spaces. The word kiosk was used quite a bit; conceptually the devices they described were quite interactive and were essentially a physical space discovery tool. One respondent described this in the following way:

“Some sort of kiosk …that says – here is what you can do from here. And then you have the alternate button – are you looking for a different service. And then you can choose from a list of other services. And that way it can direct you a little bit easier. – You want that desk over there.”

A variant on this idea was a kiosk that would ask what you wanted to accomplish and then direct you to the correct location. Others expressed similar functionality that could be built into a phone app; one enterprising participant suggested the use of a Google Glass device that could help users not only navigate the building, but understand what they can accomplish in any given space. One person mentioned a brochure but quickly pointed out all the reasons why this was not the best idea. This however, might be an intermediary solution to first floor wayfinding.

Another frequently-voiced idea for improving signage involved the ability to get information on the availability of resources, such as technology items for checkout, an empty desktop computer, or a group study room. Another request for the kiosk was to provide the digital version of pathfinders or FAQs.

A second strong theme in the discussion about signage was for the libraries to do a better job of promoting collections, events, and services the library offers. Users felt that we need to give faculty and students a reason to come here. Some felt the libraries should be the place to find out about activities in other parts of campus as well.

The final theme related to improved functionality of signage in Ekstrom Library was a request for space to share information about faculty or student accomplishments and to provide a venue for cross-campus collaborations. Several respondents identified this as a leadership opportunity for the library since this type of notification system/service does not exist elsewhere on campus. “This is more likely to entice people, to actually discover who is doing what in this university.” To some extent, the comments in this thread seemed to combine the concept of signage and display cases. However, there was a clear desire for a prominent, visual representation of locally-produced research, preferably in a physical manifestation, not on the web.

Usage Cues

The Browsing Collection – or the Learning Commons as many referred to it - received a lot of attention in response to questioning asking them to address impressions as they enter on the East side and what they notice. In general, the discussion revealed that most people find it relatively attractive, sort of like a living room, but were also very confused about its purpose and function at the entrance of the building. As one person stated:

“So, you know, I notice it is there, I see it, and I am like, Oh that looks kind of interesting, but then I just walk right on by because I have no idea what is in there, what the flavor is, you know, what you are trying to get people to do in that space”.

Another person said, “I really do not know what the goal of that space is.” In addition to not providing visual orientation to the rest of the building, the height and spacing of the shelves seem to obscure where or how they would find the resources they need or assistance with finding it. There was a sense that when faculty and students do find something, it is almost by chance.

Beyond having people and kiosks to direct library users to their needed resources, quite a few people suggested other visual cues to direct them around the building. Suggestions included: color coding walls and furniture; “huge flashy lights like THIS IS THE REFERENCE AREA”; signage that tells you what you can do in a particular location as opposed to the names of places; painting arrows on the floors leading to specific locations that may not be in a clear visual path; stacks signage that explains the disciplines or topics covered by the materials in that area; and avoiding enclosed areas that visually obscure the purpose of the space. Lighting was also a factor in navigation. There were many areas of the first floor that were described as dark and unwelcoming, thus limiting the users’ interest in exploring a particular area more fully.

Low risk / cost
  • Reduce the footprint of the browsing collection to open up sight lines
  • Change existing semi-permanent signage to a color that blends in less
  • Use color to help define spaces
  • Installation of a central kiosk near both entrances
  • Installation of directory at major decision points – stairs and elevators
Medium risk / cost
  • Conduct a collection analysis to reduce the footprint of the browsing collection and relocating the collection off the main thoroughfares.
  • Lower ceiling height signage and displays to no more than the vertical range of view from 10 feet away
  • Map color defined spaces to color coded cues floor cues
  • Label service points by listing function rather than by department name in order to clarify purpose
High risk / cost
  • Use semi-transparent/transparent walls when creating new spaces to increase ability to quickly assess the area
  • Defining function of Ekstrom West and providing ancillary services to support that function
  • Centralized information/service desk within the line of sight of east doors and near major traffic path
  • Installation of an interactive kiosk that was function based rather than directory based


Learning more about the types of people that use our computer labs is key to understanding how they might use the spaces. Users reported liking the amount of desktops available, unlike other labs, e.g. Dahlem Lab at the Speed School. From the observation study, very few users were working with tablets on the 1st floor. Laptops could be seen occasionally, especially at the banquettes, group study room, and the small round tables between Media and REACH.

Looking at unique desktop users, computer usage was fairly evenly distributed between all underclassmen. Top computer usage was seen by those whose majors were Undeclared, Biology, Psychology, Communication, Health & Human Performance, Nursing, English, Social Work and Political Science. Some general characteristics of unique users of the public workstations (relative to the university’s population) were:

  • Gender and age matched the general population.
  • More full-time students than part-time students were users
  • Class standing was lower in all categories except Sophomores, who were 5% higher

There is high level of dissatisfaction with printing services in the library. From users and staff there is a clear need for printing improvements and/or better technology. Many reported hassles with printing and“finding a free computer, and then some computers won’t let you print a file but you can move over to another and it will”. While some users were aware of the printing station, there were also requests for a place where users “could just print something off quickly” on their way to class. This suggests that for novice users of the space, printing stations are not easily discoverable. Further, one staff member noted that larger and more professional signage was needed to help patrons navigate the space to find things like copiers and printers. Additionally, there were requests for after-hours printing in the West Wing. Only half of that focus group was aware of after-hours printing available in the Tulip Tree.

Staff reported the dire need for real-time support for printing. Currently, the Xerox representative has to be contacted when there is a problem where staff are unable to fix a problem with printing. There were many requests for re-examining the existing contract and finding a better service solution. The response time is relatively slow, often leaving patrons without a printout or a way to make a new printout.


Student ID card readers at print-release stations reported inconsistency in the performance of the readers where “swipe cards don’t always work”. One user, to the agreement of others. mentioned “I had a staff member use a plastic bag over my card and then swiped it and then it worked”. While they were glad for a solution, they suggested that it didn’t seem like the “right” [professional] way to resolve the problem. One participant suggested that most students have their student ID memorized, so having a way to print that skipped card usage might be a solution to the problem.


Staff reported the need for real-time support for technology. One student staff member reported that while she’s always willing to help people solve a problem with Word (for example), often times, it’s solved because of her willingness to ‘play around’ rather than having software expertise.

Low risk / cost
  • Move printing station(s) to a more visible location
  • Add additional printing stations to accommodate quick print needs during peak periods
  • Clarify printing instructions
  • Improve quality of signage
Medium risk / cost
  • Alternative to card swiping by using ULink credentials to link to a student accounts account
    • Negotiating a fixed number of prints defaulted to student accounts
High risk / cost
  • Reopen/renegotiate Xerox service contract
  • Installation of a technology/help desk within the LCCL staffed or supervised:
    • By an OLT student
    • Through collaboration with DMS or REACH student staff


While the data revealed a variety needs and challenges, library users desired:

  • Easily discovered clearly defined spaces that supported group and independent work
  • Clarity of the function and purpose of services with a reduction in referral to another service point
  • Improved sight lines and navigation aids
  • Increased printing and technology support


Appendix A: Project Plan

assessment plan by week

Appendix B: Observation Blank Map

blank map for observation

Appendix C: Observation Handout

Hey. So you caught me. What gives? I'm an employee of Ekstrom Library. We're trying to improve this space and are studying how people use this area. The info we collect will be used internally. You can keep up with our project via the libraries' blog.

Appendix D: Focus Group Solicitation

make your voice heard ad

Appendix D1: Focus Group Moderator Script

Distribute Name tags and markers


Thanks for agreeing to participate in today’s town hall. We appreciate your willingness to participate.


You were invited today to help Ekstrom Library more about your needs in the library. The purpose of the group is to try and understand our users’ needs; specifically, to learn how users use and interact with spaces, services and resources on the 1st floor of Ekstrom Library. The information learned in the focus groups will be used to help the library in defining/redefining spaces and services.

Why not just a survey? The limitations of surveys, is that without context many times much of the meaning is lost in responses. We will be conducting two rounds; the results of which will be combined in the final report. The final report from these focus groups will be shared with library administrators.

Today, we’ll be focusing on the 1st floor – primarily the east (quad) side of the first floor.

Ground Rules

  • I want you to consider this a conversation amongst yourselves. My role is simply to facilitate discussion and keep conversation going.
  • We want you to talk and hear a wide variety of opinions
  • I may call on you if I haven’t heard from you in a while
  • This is a judgment free zone – honesty is the only way this will be valuable – we want you to freely discuss your concerns
  • There are no right or wrong answers
  • Everyone’s experiences/opinions matter
  • Speak up whether you agree or disagree
  • We’re going to record today’s session. This is to facilitate transcription
  • BUT, you will remain anonymous - we won’t identify anyone by name in our findings

[Facilitator & assistant(s) introduction]

  • Name
  • Role(s) at institution


  • First name
  • Area of interest or specialization
  • What do you like most or least about the first floor of Ekstrom Library? 

Focus Group Questions

As you enter the Ekstrom Library from the East side, what are your first impressions? What are your reactions to the space?

  • What would you like to see as you enter the building?
  • Can you tell me some specific things that you notice as you enter the building?

Thinking of a visit where you were unsure where you were headed, what would be most helpful way to orient you to where things are or what the building has to offer?

  • If you need help finding something in the building, how do you go about finding what you need?
  • How would you be likely to get help? [ask another student, someone walking around who looks like a staff member, look for signs?]

Again, thinking of the first floor, where have you seen electronic displays?

  • What types of information did you see?
  • Why did they capture your attention?
  • How might they be improved?

What about physical signs, are there locations on the first floor that you’ve seen signs

  • Why did they capture your attention?
  • How might they be improved?

There are several service desks on the 1st floor.

  • Can you tell me where they are?
  • What do you go to each desk for?
  • When you visited that desk, were you able to get a solution at that desk?
  • If not, what happened after, or what did you do next? 
  • What would you change about that experience?
  • How could it be better placed or organized?

What is your experience with the computers in this area?

  • Does the space support the types activities that you do?
  • How could it be transformed to meet your needs better?

Tell me about the furniture in that space

  • How comfortable are you in the space?
  • Is it conducive to the work that you’re doing?

(30 seconds pause/reflect)

What is the single best thing we could do to improve your experience on the first floor of Ekstrom.

Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us about your experience on the first floor?

Appendix D1: Town Hall Moderator Script (Staff)

Distribute Name tags and markers


Thanks for agreeing to participate in today’s town hall. I appreciate your willingness to participate.


Learning spaces are a subset of physical spaces on a campus, with potential to serve as formal and/or informal settings for multiple types of users while reflecting the 24/7 reality of 21st century learning. Learning spaces should be designed to enable students to tackle ill-structured problems, actively engage in real problem solving, and interact with peers and faculty. Students benefit when they perceive a sense of belonging, can focus on hands-on learning, and participate in team-based approaches to problem solving. Time and resources are being spent on designing spaces to help students learn more effectively and creatively.

Today’s purpose is to learn not only how about your needs as staff, but to discuss what we see as challenges as we help users navigate our spaces on the 1st floor. The results will be combined with other data collected and shared in a final report to the library’s administrators and will influence the defining of spaces and services.



  • 2 rounds of observations
  • 2 rounds of whiteboards
  • Partners town hall

Coming up

  • Next week – final installation whiteboards
  • Week after – final observations

Today’s Ground Rules

  • I may call on you if I haven’t heard from you in a while
  • This is a judgment free zone – honesty is the only way this will be valuable – we want you to freely discuss your concerns
  • We want to a wide variety of opinions - everyone’s experiences/opinions matter
  • There are no right or wrong answers
  • Speak up whether you agree or disagree
  • We’re going to record today’s session. This is to facilitate transcription
  • BUT, you will remain anonymous - we won’t identify anyone by name in our findings

Before we get started…

[Count off in 4s] Group all 4s

[Assign one person as scribe, one person as note taker]


  • First name
  • Home department
  • As a staff member or as a user, what do you find the most or least challenging about the first floor of Ekstrom Library? 

Town Hall Questions

How do we want to shape students/users experiences in the building?

  • What is the role of the library in student learning? [record on whiteboard]

Using the results on the white board - What experiences make that becoming happen?

  • What do they need to be accomplishing in our active spaces?
  • What are barriers to making that happen?
    • How well do we help people orient themselves in the building?
      • What tools do we use?
      • How do you see them orienting themselves?
  • How could it be ideal/better?
  • What’s the experience that we’d like them to have?

What spaces enable those experiences?

  • How do we create spaces that contribute to a sense of belonging, contribute to hands-on learning and accommodate team-based approaches to problem solving?
  • How do we make it known what can be done in a space or service point
  • Thinking of spaces either on or off campus, what physical affordances do they use to encourage those experiences
  • Thinking about the current physical layout
    • What contributes to it?
    • What hinders it?


[30 seconds pause/reflect]

Thinking about today’s conversation, what’s the single thing that you would change to improve the users’ experience?

Are there any other thoughts about the future of the 1st floor?  

Appendix D1: Town Hall Handout

What are we doing well?

What are we doing not as well?

What do we have an opportunity to do?

Appendix D1: Town Hall Moderator Script (Student Staff)

Distribute Name tags and markers


Thanks for agreeing to participate in today’s town hall. I appreciate your willingness to participate. 


Learning spaces are a subset of physical spaces on a campus, with potential to serve as formal and/or informal settings for multiple types of users while reflecting the 24/7 reality of 21st century learning. Learning spaces should be designed to enable students to tackle ill-structured problems, actively engage in real problem solving, and interact with peers and faculty. Students benefit when they perceive a sense of belonging, can focus on hands-on learning, and participate in team-based approaches to problem solving. Time and resources are being spent on designing spaces to help students learn more effectively and creatively.

Today’s purpose is to learn not only how about your needs as staff, but to discuss what we see as challenges as we help users navigate our spaces on the 1st floor. The results will be combined with other data collected and shared in a final report to the library’s administrators and will influence the defining of spaces and services.



  • 2 rounds of observations
  • 2 rounds of whiteboards
  • Partners town hall

Coming up

  • This week – final installation whiteboards
  • Next week – final observations

Today’s Ground Rules

  • I may call on you if I haven’t heard from you in a while
  • This is a judgment free zone – honesty is the only way this will be valuable – we want you to freely discuss your concerns  We want to a wide variety of opinions - everyone’s experiences/opinions matter
  • There are no right or wrong answers
  • Speak up whether you agree or disagree
  • We’re going to record today’s session. This is to facilitate transcription
  • BUT, you will remain anonymous - we won’t identify anyone by name in our findings Before we get started…


  • First name
  • Home department
  • As a staff member or as a user, what do you find the most or least challenging about the first floor of Ekstrom Library?  

Town Hall Questions

How do we want to shape students/users experiences in the building?

  • What is the role of the library in student learning?

What experiences make that becoming happen?

  • What do they need to be accomplishing in our active spaces?
  • What’s the experience that we’d like them to have?
  • What are barriers to making that happen?
    • How well do we help people orient themselves in the building?
      • What tools do we use?
      • How do you see them orienting themselves?
  • How could it be ideal/better?

What spaces enable those experiences?

  • Thinking of spaces either on or off campus, what physical objects or cognitive models do they use to encourage those experiences
  • Thinking about the current physical layout
    • What contributes to it?
    • What hinders it?
  • How do we make it better known what can be done in a space or service point?
  • How do we create spaces that contribute to a sense of belonging, contribute to hands-on learning and accommodate team-based approaches to problem solving?


[30 seconds pause/reflect]

Thinking about today’s conversation, what’s the single thing that you would change to improve the 1st floor experience?

Are there any other thoughts about the future of the 1st floor?

Appendix E: 2014 Benchmark Survey Solicitation

fill out your library survey

Appendix F: Staff Town Hall Consolidated Worksheet Staff

Consolidated Worksheet
Questions Experiences
What are we doing well?
  • We have a lot of staff
    • Knowledgeable
    • Customer service
    • Good people/help
    • Great one-on-one
    • Friendly
  • Student help is in the same area
  • Have improved # of seats for independent study 
What are we doing not as well?


  • Signage/layout
  • Signage (panels on wall; kiosk)
  • Lack of clarity
  • Make it self-evident how to look up a book
  • Not as focused


  • Building isn’t built for quiet and our goals
  • Lots of people need study space
  • Need more computers
  • Lighting


  • Better webpages – clarity
  • Circ: not enough to show students/take them; lots of back and forth
  • Not enough support after 7pm (IT, maintenance)
  • Communication between departments


  • Culture of students: not holding them accountable
  • University sees students as customers
  • Expectations: how quiet is “quiet”
What do we have an opportunity to do?


  • Touch screen/concierge – both doors
  • Kiosk with interactive choices for people events, maps 
  • Information kiosks


  • Increase awareness of different spaces (group study, individual study, service points, classes) and their purposes 
  • Decide whether 1st floor is quiet or loud
  • Silent study – group study or Writing Center there
  • Presentation practice room – labs when not booked
  • Self-checkout
  • Centralize info.


  • Better communication about what’s going on in the building
  • Welcoming fav [sp?]
  • More collaboration between departments


  • Opportunity to provide all they need but need to overcome barriers
  • How much money are we willing to spend to make building into what we’d like to see 


Appendix F: Staff Town Hall Consolidated Worksheet Student Staff

Consolidated Worksheet
Questions Experiences
What are we doing well?


  • Signage – checkout/return books here


  • Computer spaces
  • DMS
  • RAP sessions
  • Media/circ provide services
  • Helpful to patrons
  • Solid work
  • ILL – rockstars
  • Offer a ton of services
What are we doing not as well?


  • Adequate for every user uncomfortable spaces
  • Physical barriers
  • Thinking of 1st floor as a whole
  • Clear service points
  • Don’t encourage collaborative computer work


  • Signage!
  • More seamless directions signage
  • Help can still be confusing


  • Printing is a disaster 
What do we have an opportunity to do?


  • Get offices off 1st floor
  • Intuitive service points – not bouncing around (circ near books, OLT near tech)
  • Designation of spaces
  • Concierge & kiosk at both entrances and by elevators on other floors
  • Have room opener next to concierge
  • Mini-amphitheater for video watching
  • Spaces for presentation practice
  • More art 
  • Art on the wall
  • More collaborative spaces 
  • Solo & quiet work at PCs on the 1st floor
  • Comfortable moveable seating
  • Spaces for collaborative computer work
  • Space enabling:
    • Group Study
    • Group computer labs
    • Comfortable space inviting you to stay “hang out”


  • Improved signage
  • Simple, obvious signage
  • Mitigate student expectations (possibly using signage)
  • Color-coded map – classrooms, service points
  • Central catch-all desk for directional questions
  • Service point areas
    • Kiosk
    • You don’t deal with the area you don’t know what that are does
    • How can we better direct
  • Support/Services
    • Updated websites for independent learners who don’t want to ask
    • Mobile app
    • More specialized software (Maple, AutoCAD) on computers
    • Combine like services and areas
    • Have a supplies table
    • Combine like services 


Appendix G1: Charrette Plans

rows of computers; exhibit space could feature student work

Appendix G2: Charrette Plans

Info desk similar to Barnes & Noble. New circulation increases visibility of this service. Keep resource centers on one side. Academic space on the other.

Appendix G3: Charrette Plans

Organized services along walls. REACH moved near computers.

Appendix G4: Charrette Plans

Digital Media Suite and Media Desk. Relaxed center area by poetry room. Extra CPU go to 4th floor. Reference desk in center. Reduce the size of the REACH center.

Appendix G5: Charrette Plans

central transaction desk

Appendix G6: Charrette Plans

3-5 Year Vision for Reference & Information Literacy Department

Latisha, Toccara, Kelly, & Sam

Theme/Concentration: Increasing visibility & value to the university

What do we want Reference/IL to be/look like in 3-5 years?

  • Student-centered space
    • Hybrid desk in the Learning Commons (placed probably where the booths are currently) - model that does circulation, basic known-item look-up reference questions and refers others to librarian on call
      • Main concern - can free up time & resources; will affect other services and departments; will have to convey this to other depts
      • Hopefully decrease the amount of student hours for reference (currently staffing to cover 85.5 desk hours per week x 2 students ideally), get students that are potentially interested in librarianship
      • Dedicated space for printing, copiers, cardinal card machines, change machines, computers with scanners all in the same area (perhaps curved wall?)
        • Change laptop bar to dedicated space for this.
    • Soundproof offices
      • Update/renovate/add ceiling to librarian offices (Rosie, Latisha, Barb, & Special Services) OR move reference librarians into reference with the building of the writing center
        • Emphasis is on functionality that will better support daily work including meeting with students/faculty.
    • LIC 254
      • Renovate and make usable for classes (similar to CLC) OR make into group study rooms
  • On-campus Outreach/Promotion
    • Physically mobile, as well as a small support team (2-3 people of dedicated people who are responsible for this) who do outreach/promote us on campus (much like First Year Initiatives or class visits conducted by Writing Center)
      • e.g. class visits to discuss who we are and what we do for 10 minutes; student organization focus; faculty;
        • this can help expand our roles as liaisons
        • However, strategy must focus on sustainability

What services will we provide that we don’t provide now?

  • On-campus outreach (as mentioned above)
  • small group study/presentation rooms - there seems to be a demand for this; something that would complete the Learning Commons, especially with the Writing Center coming down to the 1st floor/next to Reference
    • perhaps close in Barb's/Latisha’s/Rosie’s offices? 
  • Streamline printing somehow - We need a strong partnership with whatever organization (be that Xerox...or perhaps someone else?) is in control of printing
    • rearrange printer stations (perhaps all put near/on laptop bar) 


  • On-campus outreach: Increase in teaching/research appt. requests data by teaching faculty and students demonstrates the need for our research services. In wanting to continue to progress in this area more outreach is needed. For this outreach we can utilize internal resources such as staff and dedicated students who can help perform the outreach.
    Further, due to the trend of traditional reference questions being asked declining, there is a need for our library staff to take the initiative and go to the students/professor’s instead of waiting for them to come ask us for help. And, this speaks to our group theme of increasing our visibility and value to the university
  • Small group study rooms: Incorporate data from Maurini’s assessment (e.g., focus groups) currently taking place; through informal observations of how students are using the existing spaces many seem to gravitate toward areas that support group study (study tables on 2-4th floor, study tables near the Digital Media Suite and Reference, and the banquets). Having an increase in these areas through re-arranging existing furniture or purchasing new furniture will help support this need. Also, there are many professors who request library instruction that share assignment requiring student group work, which further can add support to this conversation of the need for these spaces.
  • Reduction in student staffing in having between 2-3 dedicated student workers who have a vested interest in learning about the work of Reference, instead of having a large number of student employees who may or not fall into the latter category, would offer extra funding Reference can use to pay these 2-3 students a higher wage. Also, a portion of that funding could be transferred to the budgetary needs for training/hiring employees for staff the hybrid desk.

What services that we provide now won’t be needed any longer?

  • Going along with changing the desk, the idea is that we won’t need the reference desk right outside of our department anymore
    • Change student staffing
    • Case by case printer and copier troubleshooting

What services will remain?

  • Instruction
  • Research appointments
  • Chat - but maybe expanded to “ask the library” and not just “ask a librarian” as to sound like it’s only research-oriented; maybe concentrate hours even more? market more to get more participation.
    • see “questions section” at end of document

How will that affect our space needs? Our personnel needs?

  • More student-centered space--really honing in on the idea of a Learning Commons
  • Dedicated space tech (laptop bar--mentioned above in 3-5 year vision)

Questions Section

  • chat -
    • Partnering with different departments?
    • taking on the entire responsibility for the “ask a library” might be too much and still involve calling others--time-consuming

Wish List

  • Bingham Poetry room

Appendix G7: Charrett Plans

Sue Finley, Barbara Whitener, Rosie Linares, Fannie Cox

Forecast Assumptions

Over the next 3 to 10 years,

  • The print reference collection will shrink as UofL acquires more electronic resources
  • The microform collection will shrink as more resources are digitized by UofL and other institutions
  • The SGA collection will gradually migrate to streaming video
  • Demand for PC workstations will decrease as more students bring their own devices
  • Usage of distance learning and remote access services (e.g., chat) will increase significantly


  • Make it easier for students and faculty to locate and access the services and resources they want and need.
    • Both online and in-library
  • Develop an ongoing assessment system/schedule that routinely monitors service and item usage to ensure that resources are aligned with student and faculty needs to as great an extent as possible.


  • Redesign the layout of Ekstrom’s first and second floors so that similar services are grouped together in a manner that is consistent with student usage/needs and more intuitive for first time visitors
  • Assess the efficiency (and effectiveness??) of the libraries website among both frequent and first-time users
    • Also survey websites of comparable universities for improvement opportunities.
  • Staff each service point with the level of personnel most appropriate for the service
  • Align service hours with student and faculty needs
  • On an annual basis, reevaluate service offerings, library configuration, and staff alignment based on analyses of:
    • Gate count trends
    • PC Usage
    • Utilization of major services by subject and level (Research, Information Literacy, etc.)
    • Circulation of items by format and subject area
    • Browsing stats by subject area
    • LibGuide usage by subject
    • Database usage
    • Gimlet and Chat questions
    • Etc. 

SWOT Analysis


  • Generally good at anticipating, understanding, and meeting the needs of UofL students and faculty
  • Helpful, friendly, dedicated personnel
    • Create an environment that is fluid and cross-training is the rule, rather than the exception between all library Public Services Area on the first floor
  • Relatively quick item retrieval (i.e., RRS and media resources)


  • Low awareness of some services among both students and faculty
    • Branding – once the University Libraries determines how and what it wants its image to be and paint a cohesive organizational visual, it will make it easier to focus our marketing.
    • Marketing, consistent signage that avoids library jargon, •
  • Disjointed, hidden, and/or confusing presentations of services/resources result in delayed, and sometimes missed, opportunities
    • Some of the current layouts and department/service names are based on the library’s current or historic internal organization rather than student and faculty perspectives and needs.
      • Utilize Focus Groups/Surveys to determine student and faculty perspectives on wording and usability of services (we need to know what they know, think, and want in a library).
      • Poor presentation and coordination of visual cues, service descriptions, and signage.
      • Online aids and tutorials appear to be only average to below average relative to comparable organizations.
    • Some of the collection is outdated, and probably unbalanced, relative to current needs
      • Need more electronic resources and subject analysis
    • No in-library support for the service that generates the most questions and complaints—printing


  • Mine existing data, and if necessary conduct additional research, to identify opportunities to improve resource allocation (space, collections, personnel).
    • Federal agencies are requiring a Data Management Plan as part of research proposals for funding. A few ARLs have ceased this as an opportunity to partner and have access to grant money.
  • Improve the professional image of the library so that it is more comparable to other service departments on campus (e.g., Delphi Center, ???)
    • Décor, cleanliness, service, etc.
  • Strengthen working relationships with other services housed within the library


  • As technology progresses, students and faculty will expect:
    • support for a wider variety of online devices
    • faster and easier information retrieval and resource access
  • Budget restrictions  

Appendix G7: Charrette Plans

Sue Finley, Barbara Whitener, Rosie Linares, Fannie Cox Page


based on current knowledge without the benefit of additional research

Building and In-Person Service Changes

  • Position general information desks in highly visible locations close to both entrances.
    • Consolidate assisted checkout (RRS, video, equipment, reserves) at the desk at the west entrance.
    • Allow stacks checkout and return of all items except equipment and reserves at both information desks.
    • Staff both desks to handle directional questions, phone calls, known item lookups, library account help, etc. (and perhaps chat referral)
  • Establish separate help desk for printing and technical problems.
  • Establish a research assistance center for in-depth and/or subject specific questions.
  • Consolidate as many assisted services on the first floor as possible.
  • Reserve the second floor for quiet services/activities to as great an extent as possible.
    • Move Poetry Room, and perhaps browsing collection, to second floor.
    • Move classroom 254 to first floor.
  • Work with students to name and describe services, and then incorporate that vocabulary into new signage (and website).

Remote/Online Support

  • Expand chat to Media/Circulation teams
  • Test expansion of chat hours
  • Realign responsibilities within the Research Assistance team to dedicate more resources to online and digital presence as well as resource allocation analysis (separate position vs. % of subject specialists’ time).

Resource Allocation

  • Merge Distance Learning and Reference/Information Literacy into Research Assistance?
  • Merge Media and Circulation?

Appendix G7: Charette Plans Service Point Walk Thru

Service Point Walk thru Narrative (for pie in the sky map):

Upon entering the east entrance doors from the quad, a user will immediately see an information desk, directly in front of them, attended by students and staff. If the user is returning or checking out a resource not on reserve, they can return or check it out there. At that centralized service point, the user will be able scan the entire area to see all available services. The students and staff can also physically point out signage (written in ‘user speak’) for each service.

pie in the sky mapAll of the technology service points will be located on the south side of the first floor, or to the user’s left side. If the user needs to use a desktop, and is having difficulty printing, the IT staff at the printing desk can help them. If they need to use a software program that they are unfamiliar with, the Software Instruction Center is close by, as is the Digital Media Production Center.

The North side of the 1st floor, which is to the user’s right upon entering, will be dedicated to writing and research. The reference collection will be on display, for easy access during research consultations and walk-up inquiries. Referrals can take place back and forth between the Research Assistance and Writing Center. There will also be two classrooms for library instruction.

In the west wing, users will be able to check out and return any type of item, including DVDs, computers, tablets, print sources, and reserves. Centralizing current circulation and Media Resources to two desks necessitates a merger of the two departments- therefore the Media Offices will be incorporated into current Circulation space, and expanded if needed. 

Appendix G8: Charrette Plans

Team Awesome First Floor Plan:

  • Rob Detmering
  • James Manasco
  • Claudene Sproles
  • Josh Whitacre


  • Key Trends for Reference and Information Literacy
    • We will focus on providing customized, personalized services to students and faculty in an increasingly collaborative context.
    • The research consultation model and highly collaborative liaison activities will drive our approach to spaces and services.
    • Face-to-face information literacy instruction tailored to specific classes and assignments will continue to be important. However, the need for customized online information literacy content will increase over time. As a result, we should begin to put more time and energy into creating this content and forming ongoing partnerships with faculty. The online modules created by Sue and Sam for their respective disciplines represent the kind of work we need to emphasize.
    • It will be in our interest and the interest of students to connect our work with other first-floor services in the Learning Commons, as well as larger University initiatives (such as Quality Enhancement Plans, First Year Initiatives, 21st Century Initiative, General Education reform, etc.)
  • Organizational changes
    • Media Resources will be merged with Circulation. All circulation functions will occur at the west wing desk.
    • A new Head of Public Services and the Learning Commons will be charged with leading Reference and Information Literacy (new name?) and the merged Circulation Department. This position will also oversee Learning Commons services and activities, as well as foster dialog and collaboration with the Writing Center, REACH, the Digital Media Suite, etc.
    • A staff or faculty position will also be created to oversee all student assistants in the Learning Commons (one pool of student assistants— possibly hire graduate students or advanced undergraduates in certain instances).
      • Student assistants may specialize in certain areas, but they will function as one unit within the Learning Commons.
      • Advanced student assistants may be trained to give tours of the Learning Commons and visit classes to give short promotional presentations on the Learning Commons (or research assistance). This could result in a partnership with the Writing Center or other services.
    • OLT will have some involvement in ensuring that genuine technology assistance is available on demand in the Learning Commons via student assistants. This assistance will be provided at the central desk (see below), not a separate desk. 
  • Changes in first-floor spaces and services
    • A central help or information desk will be installed in the browsing collection area. The current reference and media desks will be removed entirely.
    • The new central desk will offer known item look-ups, directional assistance, and technology assistance (maybe some circulation functions— we’re not totally sure). It will be staffed by 3-4 student assistants who will provide more personalized service, including walking users to other areas (think Apple Store?).
    • Reference librarians will hold office hours (or be on call in some other way). Student assistants can walk users in need of specialized research assistance to the reference offices. However, there will be no public desk in reference.
    • The current media area will be converted into a more open and inviting space for study, as well as public readings and other events. This will be a new space and could even have a name such as the University’s “Living Room” or “Bill’s” (reference to William Ekstrom). 

Appendix G8: Charrette Plans

Ekstrom First Floor– Team Awesome Plan 

team awesome's first floor plan

Appendix H: Gate Count Trends

Gate Counts
Where? 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
East 1,362,360 1,370,550 1,358,365
West 599,986 582,765 530,703
Total 1,962,346 1,953,315 1,889,068

ekstrom door count graph

Appendix I: Reference Transaction Trends

Decreasing in person and by phone

Appendix J: Research Appointment Trends

Research Appointment Trends
Time Span Interactions Consultations > 15 minutes Research Appointments
FY 2009-2010 7125   43
FY 2010-2011 6754   44
FY 2011-2012 3740 382 95
FY 2012-2013 3994 476 173
FY 2013-YTD 3912 439 176

Decreasing interactions

Appendix K: Voyager Transaction Trends

unique transactions

Appendix L: Computer Usage - Demographic Data

computer users by major

time spent on computers