UX and Library Headphone Loans

The headphone loan service is a longstanding and popular service delivered from the Library and IT Support Desk during staffed hours. Students can return headphones either at the Support Desk or at the Welcome Desk.

Despite the service is not being widely publicised or promoted, it is still well known, possibly through word-of-mouth or by seeing other students use the service

A review of the service by Front Line Services staff was led by Jonathan Allen, Kaidi Goke and Laura Knox, with contributions from staff in Support & Liaison and Service Delivery teams.

What did we want to find out?

  • The impact of the current service on the IT & Library Support Desk;
  • The feasibility and benefits of a self-service model;
  • The sustainability of the service if it were to be more widely promoted;
  • Supply and demand issues;
  • How students feel about the benefits of the current service.

What did we do?

The review took place between 14 November 2018 and 14 December 2018. We gathered data from user feedback, UX activities, statistical analysis and research into best practice.

Data was analysed from:

  • Support Desk Tickets (Footprints)
  • Quick Queries (Footprints)
  • Symphony (SirsiDynix)
  • UX Grab and Go questionnaires

We targeted visitors to the Support Desk with a ‘grab and go’ quick questionnaire. We chose this UX technique as the most efficient and non-intrusive way of getting short answers to a small number of specific questions.
This provided powerful insights into students’ awareness and perception of the current service. A total of 56 questionnaires were completed.

What did we find out?

The results of the ‘grab and go’ are below.

Question Yes No Commentary
Do you watch videos/listen to music while you are studying in the library? 78% 22% It appears that headphones are used for listening to music and watching videos, not only for reducing the ambient noise.
Do you have your own headphones? 80% 20% A significant minority of our users do not have their own headphones.
Are you ever disturbed in the library by other people using headphones? 16% 84% We received 9 complaints about leaking headphones to library-report during the review period.
Did you know that you can borrow headphones in the library? 84% 16% This response is from all customers visiting the IT and Library Support Desk, not just the users asking for headphones.

The current impact of the service on the Support Desk

In November 2018 and December 2018, headphones loans were the most frequently requested service:  20% of all queries in November, and 20.5% in December.
This amounts to 708 loans, and the largest contributing factor to the workload of Support Desk staff.
During the review period, there were 39 instances of students asking to loan headphones when none were available (turnaways).

The benefits of the service to students

We learned that 78% of surveyed students liked to watch videos or listen to music in the library.

Despite 80% of students saying that they owned their own headphones, data from the ‘grab and go’ UX study revealed that the service was appreciated by students and perceived as a benefit in the following top 3 ways:

    1.   When students forget to bring their own headphones (6%)

It’s a great service. It can be really frustrating to forget your headphones even if you have multiple pairs, so it’s nice that you’re able to get some from the library.”
“It’s really useful because I often forget my own ones.”
“Very helpful, a necessity -perfect if you forget your own.”

      2.   To cancel out surrounding noise and reduce distractions (4%)

“It’s a good idea, considering how loud some of these areas get.”
“It’s really helpful as it blocks out other sounds and keeps you focused.”
“Very good as my ones do not cancel the background noises like the ones I borrow.”

     3.    Resolving compatibility issues (3%)

“I think it is very suitable and convenient especially if you forget your headphones or have a different type that does not fit the computer.”
“Good, as my Apple headphones don’t fit into the PCs.”
“Very useful, not all headphones are compatible with the computers so it’s really helpful that the library loans out headphones.”

Student suggestions for service improvement

“Very useful. I only found out today and I am a second year, so maybe advertise it somewhere?”
“Should be advertised/promoted better – possible signs/posters on 1st floor showing where and saying it’s available.”
“Self-service headphones would be a good idea.”
Length of time headphones are loaned out should be extended (some way to borrow after 9pm).”
“More headphones as sometimes there aren’t any.”
“Newer ones – and more of them please! It’s a good idea.”

Next Steps

Following our review, we will now put together a detailed report with recommendations for action.