Fitting their Workflows: University of Queensland Library


Keith Webster, University Librarian and Director of Learning Services at The University of Queensland, shares this sign and the thinking behind it with TTW readers: (emphasis mine)

During 2008 we conducted a number of studies into the academic lives of students, particularly their interactions with people, place and technologies.  We had students keep log-books whilst they wrote term papers; we invited them to design workshops, and we asked them to record their activities in our libraries on one day during the second semester.  We had thousands of responses!  We also ran LibQUAL+ for the first time.  From all of that data, a number of themes emerged.  One was the time pressure faced by students.  They have competing demands and assessment-focussed lives. They work hard and smart and plan their time effectively.  We recognised that the library needed to fit their workflows rather than have the students fit our rules and regulations.  One grumble was about the need to pack up and leave the library to eat a snack.  We realised that the main objection to eating in the library was around the by-products of hot meals (aromas, spills and left-over packaging).  Cold snacks were generally acceptable, so we decided to allow them to be eaten in the Library.  Our new academic year is about to begin, so we’ll see how it goes.

Thanks Keith! I appreciate the response of the library to the workflows of the student. The user-centered approach and compromise instead of complete food and beverage banning is a breath of fresh air. TTW readers – what are other libraries doing to relax those outdated policies?