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Library Staff Development: Reading Group

Highlighting development opportunities for library staff and news and views in UK Libraries and HE

Reading Group information has been moved from its own libguide to a tab on the Development libguide! Discussion board posts have been archived in a box at the bottom of this page. 

Library reading group

This will be an informal opportunity to discuss what other libraries are doing, explore areas of practice and interest and reflect on ideas in a supportive group. Reading material could be anything from a journal article, blog post or report.

Meetings will be held once per term and will take place over lunchtime for one hour. To reflect the varying interests and roles in the library, there will be rotating facilitators so we have a range of reading material and voices leading the discussion.

Why have a reading group?

Benefits of engaging with reading groups include:

  • Staying current with the literature 
  • Learning about new topics and examples of good practice
  • Developing critical appraisal skills
  • Considering how we can make improvements for our users
  • Interacting with colleagues
How can I get involved?

Come along to the meeting on [date TBC] preferably having read/skimmed/glanced at the chapter 'Liberating the Library: What it Means to Decolonise and Why it is Necessary in Narrative Expansions : Interpreting Decolonisation in Academic Libraries, but if you haven't had chance, please still feel free to join the discussion. If you cannot make the meeting please feel free to add thoughts and comments in the Discussion Board where a thread will be started for this particular reading. 

Everyone is welcome, if you want to just turn up on the day that is absolutely fine.

What if I can't make the meeting?

If you can't make the meeting but would still like to take part, you can add add thoughts or comments on to the discussion board on this guide in advance of the meeting. A short summary of the discussion will be added to the discussion board on this page after the meeting, so check back if you are interested.

Facilitating meetings

If you would like to volunteer to facilitate a future meeting, please email Eleanor Lund at

Facilitators will be responsible for choosing the reading content and leading the discussion at the meeting. Here are some general guidelines for facilitators:

  1. Set a date for the reading group to meet
  2. Choose an article: this can be on a topic of your choice and you are you are encouraged to choose an article that reflects your own interests.
  3. Add the article citation or link to the reading material to the Padlet at least 2 weeks prior to the meeting to allow group members to read prior to the meeting.
  4. Lead the journal club discussion: our group will be informal and the discussions can be wide ranging. It may help to have a couple of questions in place to drive the discussion if needed.
  5. Do an initial and/or final round table to ensure everyone gets a chance to speak (if they want to!)

Adapted from:

Planned facilitators


Term 1 - Eleanor Ann Lund

Term 2 - Amy McEwan

Term 3 -


Summer term - Chris Launder

Summer -  Andrew Dove

Autumn term - Lee Snook

Discussion Archive

Amy McEwan January 4th 2019, 4:30 pm

Reading group 20 February 2019 - Ebooks and user experience

Tracy, D.G. 2018, "Format Shift: Information Behavior and User Experience in the Academic E-book Environment", Reference & User Services Quarterly, vol. 58, no. 1, pp. 40-51.

This is a short summary of the discussion at the first reading group meeting. I’m sure to have missed things so please feel free to add to the discussion.

We discussed the concept of ‘format shifting’ and how participants in the study overcame challenges with usability by shifting from ebook platform e-readers, to third-party apps and downloads to PDF. This led us to wonder if our users are using reading apps, and if so which ones?

We discussed the fact that we have disabled downloads for a number of our ebooks to increase availability. This is likely to affect usability, especially for those using accessibility software and tools. At present, we can turn on downloads for these ebooks, but this requires our users to contact us and request this.

Several people explained the benefits of ebooks and suggested ways we could encourage students to try them:

  • With patron driven acquisition models, we can get our users the digital texts they need really quickly
  • Ebooks can be beneficial for the environment
  • We could provide guidance on downloading ebooks, with advice and support through LibGuides to make the experience easier

It was noted that we've asked students their views on ebooks in the past, but we could do further work to find out what our users need. In terms of things we are already doing well, the e-book ordering preference list that Caroline Gale worked with the Library Champions to produce has helped us to ensure we purchase ebooks from vendors with the most user friendly platforms and functionality.

Round table discussion highlighted the following areas that we could consider to improve user experience of our ebooks:

  • Can we do some work to prompt students to tell us when they experience problems with ebooks? At the moment we just get turnaway statistics which don’t tell us what we need to know.
  • How can we ensure that users can download e-books to increase usability and to use with required software.
  • Are there consortia (JISC, SUPC) that could add pressure on vendors to improve the usability of their platforms
  • Could we organise a research project asking our students / researchers to complete diaries their of ebook usage and their experience of resources and systems. We could then provide feedback to publishers on e-books / e-textbooks.

Amy McEwan April 3rd 2019, 9:27 am

Reading group 9th May 2019 - User experience prototyping

Preistner, A. Protyping: prioritising user testing and agility over detail. Information Professional. Jan –Feb 2019, p.30.

Here is a summary of the discussion, please feel free to add to this.

We discussed the points Andy raises in the article, particularly how we involve our users in decision making.

It was noted that we already observer our users and how they use our spaces and have made positive changes to improve experience, such as changing seating areas/ spaces. We talked about how we evaluate our efforts and how we keep track of feedback. It was noted that we need a central place for all of the feedback we receive.

Colleagues shared feedback of their own observations of our users. Students were observed moving around furniture at St. Luke’s library due to a lack of power points. It was noted that there is space for additional desks in the silent study room at St. Luke’s and we could consider this space as a place to try out new furniture. The Old Library was noted as a space that our users (and staff) often find difficult to navigate.

Discussion followed around how we can involve users more to find out what they need. Asking our users to give us tours of our libraries might be helpful in understanding more about their perception of our services. We also talked about looking beyond Library Champions to canvas ideas and experiences on library use/experience. Qualitative feedback is important, not just quantitative.

Andy Preistner discusses the idea of users having ‘ownership of space’ in the article and a definition was shared of what this might mean for our students. Giving students’ ownership doesn’t necessarily mean letting them paint a mural on the walls like in the article, it’s more about allowing students to feel comfortable in our spacesThis could mean adjustable / movable furniture and less formal silent study spaces.

The main take away from the article was that we need to find out what our users need by talking to them/ asking questions. We also need to try not to worry about getting services and spaces ‘perfect’ before implementing changes.

There was some discussion around how we could undertake UX methods with our online services and it was mentioned that Penryn use something called Hotjar to get feedback on their online services. Proactive chat, where users get a prompt on their screen to ask them if they need help from library staff has now been set up, to try and encourage our users to let us know if they have questions.

We ended on a wider conversation about whether Exeter is a safe place to fail. Although there were some hesitations about this, it was noted that many of these changes we are talking about with UX are small scale and failure is just another part of the process. UX is meant to be easy and cheap and designed for the environment we are working in.

 There were a few action points:

  • How can we get feedback from our users online - Chris Launder to find out more about Hotjar
  • Can we take notes from complaints / feedback and keep records of these using a central spreadsheet – this is on James's to-do-list
  • Can we look into ways that users can feedback on problems with digital content via vendor platforms – Alex to investigate
  • Digital signage could potentially to replace noticeboards and other library signs  – Amy/ Chris to raise at marketing group


Craig McEwan May 8th 2019, 3:09 pm

This conference presentation by Andy Priestner is well worth a look if you want to see a bit more on his UX process.

The presentation is called: Embedding UX research and design

Amy McEwan July 19th 2019, 10:09 am

Reading group 20th August - At Home in the Academic Library? A Study of Student Feelings of “Homeness”

What did you think of the study? Were there any findings that stood out to you?


Chris Launder July 24th 2019, 3:53 pm

Introducing a designated sleeping area in the library would require a huge shift in culture from us as librarians (and cooperation form Estate patrol colleagues etc) but is a very interesting idea.  Students will do this anyway, so recognising it as a legitimate behaviour and attempting to help facilitate it in a safe environment seems like a positive but challenging to manage prospect!


Paul Burrow July 31st 2019, 1:30 pm

The report does raise some interesting points, I wonder though that by making the library more homely it may actually be counterproductive to student health, performance and wellbeing in that they may be less inclined to take proper breaks away from what would still be essentially a place of work / study. To provide nap pods may also raise unrealistic expectations of the work environment they may later encounter…or perhaps this is the way of the future… a nap pod in the book returns room maybe that’s exactly what is needed!...J


Caroline Gale July 9th 2020, 11:48 am


How does everyone feel about doing a reading group session on this topic. We have the e-book of Reni Eddo-Lodge's 'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People about Race' for example, so we could pick a chapter to read, then meet up for an online reading group?

Alternatively, we could all bring insights from other books on this topic that I'm sure we are all reading at the moment?

Date of next meeting: Friday 1st April 2022
Term 2 2022: Liberating the Library: What it Means to Decolonise and Why it is Necessary,
Narrative Expansions : Interpreting Decolonisation in Academic Libraries, edited by Jess Crilly, and Regina Everitt, Facet Publishing, 2021 
Past meetings:
20 August 2019 2pm: Reading material - Priya Mehta & Andrew Cox (2019) At Home in the Academic Library? A Study of Student Feelings of “Homeness”, New Review of Academic Librarianship

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