Why I decided to work on this project?
Back in 2016, when I started my Masters Degree in Information Systems from University College Dublin, in the first semester I had a module named Research Methods. The faculty suggested us to read the book listed in the module as suggested reading and the book was available in UCD Library.
The problem was, searching that book was really difficult as it had a very generic name and multiple authors published books named Research methods. It became really difficult and tedious to search the relevant research methods book by the authors mentioned in our course study.
Somehow, I managed to search the book with relevant author in library catalog online and it was available but when I reached library, I found the book was already issued and spotted a girl reading that book in the library. I wished if there was some way to easily list the relevant books from my course along with where I can find them in library and reserve them.
“I wish there was some way to automatically list all the relevant course books along with their realtime status and their location in library. “
What is the main problem I am trying to solve?
Present Situation —
Students have to manually search all the listed course books for the semester in Library which is time consuming and frustrating.
Existing Technical Infrastructure —
- Students can search books online from UCD Library Website/ Catalog.
- Each student have a unique SISWEB (Student account) account where are the books required for reading are listed semester wise but it is not linked to Library database, so the data is pretty static and students have to search for books manually in library by entering book names which often gives multiple results.
“I want to automate the book searching process, where as soon as a student logs in to his/her account, all the books required for reading during semester are listed in their Student account with their location in library and realtime status about availability.”
Who are the users I am solving this problem for?
- UCD Students
- Power users will be students who regularly borrow books from library.
What’s my role in the project?
- UX Researcher
- UI Designer
- Usability Tester
Solution to the problem
Libely — The app from UCD Library in which the student can login with the same credential they use to login to student portal and all the books are listed with their location and current status.
I interview 5 students from UCD about how they search for books in the library and what are their current pain points? Based on the pain points mentioned by students, I laid out the basic features they need to solve their problems.
Main research tool — One on one interviews and Focus groups.
Focus group of 5 students helped me to see how much they agree with each other on the pain points raised, thus giving me an idea of intensity of each problem.
From the interviews, these are the problems faced by students using library services while searching for books and after borrowing a book.
- If automatically the courses books are listed, it will be easier to find the books and no time waste will be there.
- When they want a book since a long time and it becomes available for some time but again when I try to borrow, someone else borrow it. If that can be solved anyhow. Or, if they get an alert when the book is available.
- Concerns related to finding some books which are always in demand.
- Students feel lazy to go to library and return the book or they simply forget, hence they incur lots of fine.
- The receipt of borrowed book is a paper which students easily lose.
- Some concerns around late book return fines and if they can avoid it somehow.
- Students forget Student ID card most of the time thus cancel their plans to visit library as you need card to access the library, it will be great if they can have a digital version of that.
- In case if they don’t find a book, students want to know if similar books are there.
Mapping all the concerns with the user journey —
- Most students use desktop to access the student portal but often they don’t carry laptops and rely on laptops available in University premises.
- Students use mobile phones all the time.
Based on the insights from the research, following are the features that students would like to see in a solution -
- The solution should be mobile based
- It should list all the books automatically as per relevant semester
- It should display the location and current status.
- Students should be able to re-issue just with one tap rather than visiting the library. Point to consider is that students can re-issue the same book only once. If they intend to use it again, they must return and issue it again.
- Students should be able to reserve a book they need and collect it timely.
- List books similar to the course books.
- For books which are currently not available in library to borrow, students want to set a notification which they will get once the book is available.
- Reminders to return a book.
Based on the features discussed, here are the prototypes -
Testing the Prototypes
I tested the working prototype with my 5 classmates and found favourable results.
They loved the intuitive interface and the notification system and gave 9.5/10 NPS and said the solution will immensely help them and addresses all the issues they are facing at the moment.
Future Scope -
In future, we can have some additional features which will show how busy the library is at the moment and how many computers are available.
Also, using Google lens feature, the students can scan the book using app and borrow it directly instead of standing in the book borrowing kiosk, thus leading to more convenience.