Survey on Libraries desktop computer use

We noticed how users frequently rearranged desktop computer environments in the Hill and Hunt Libraries and surveyed users to try and find out why.

Overview

Libraries IT staff had been wondering why desktop computer environments in the Hill and Hunt Libraries were so often rearranged by users—monitors and peripherals moved aside and unplugged. Rather than jump to conclusions, we asked the Libraries User Research Team to help us learn more about user behavior. 

In June 2022, we surveyed patrons to ask why they chose the particular workstation they did that day, what they were looking for, what they need more of, whether they have ever had to rearrange a workstation setup to make it fit their needs, and other related questions. We received 95 survey submissions.

The survey results point to an increasing need for laptop-friendly workstations, which may reflect the upward trend in student-owned laptops at NC State.

Conclusions

  • We need more laptop workstations, places where a user can connect a laptop to a monitor and mouse. 
  • We should provide more prevalent and more convenient access to electrical outlets. This would prevent a lot of the unplugging we observe.
  • As we increase the quantity of laptop workstations within a finite set of workstations, we will reduce the number of Mac and PC desktop workstations. As we do that, we will slightly increase the ratio of PC workstations to Mac workstations. 
  • In the future, the Explore Spaces feature on our website should help users find laptop workstations. 
  • Computer workstations on floors 4–9 of the Hill Library are underutilized compared to other locations. We should find ways to make users aware of these resources and continue to improve the environment around the computer workstations on these upper floors, or we should consider moving the computers to other locations. 

How We Did It

We put small, table-tent signs beside more than 200 computer workstations in the Hill and Hunt Libraries in June 2022. The signs invited patrons to take a survey. We incentivized participation with the chance to win a portable phone charger.