Purpose– Ranganathan’s Laws of Library Science and continued refinements place identification of patron’s needs and connection of those needs to library services of primary importance in libraries. Identifying and developing personas or user group descriptions helps to identify the unique nature of library patrons. Personas help librarians identify or create specific services for each patron persona. Understanding each library persona allows the library faculty and staff to prepare and to plan service delivery. The purpose of this paper is to develop personas for undergraduate students followed by the identification and development of personas for graduate students and faculty. Design/methodology/approach– The identification and development of undergraduate patron personas engaged communications students, as part of their course work, to use a review of previous studies to develop theories of library patron personas. Each of the three groups within the communications class verified their initial persona theories using surveys, focus groups, interviews, observations and ethnographic methods. All personas from each group was further developed and refined into a final list and description of ten library personas. A principal components analysis helped to provide interconnections between the personas and estimate the percent of patrons each persona comprised. Findings– The study identified ten personas (user groups) who use a wide variety of library services. Descriptions of personas enabled library faculty and staff to identify personas accessing their services, to further develop and refine current services and to create new services to meet the needs of patrons. A principle components analysis further facilitated the understanding of interrelations between the personas based on persona use of library services. Personas that had common needs or use patterns were grouped together to further understanding of patrons use patterns and needs. While an attempt was made to determine the percent of total patrons each persona was, evidence was found that indicated the fluid nature of personas in regards to library services. That is, as the patron needs shifted, so did their persona. Patrons moved from one persona to another to meet their shifting needs as the academic semester proceeded. Practical implications– Personas have several practical implications for librarians. First, they enable librarians to reflect on provided services in terms of personas. This reflection enables library services to be refined to meet patron needs. Second, the interconnection between personas enables librarians to market other services. As a patron uses one service, librarians can point out related services that may be of interest or help. This is particularly important for new student orientation tours. Finally, matching the personas with other library trends and patterns assists librarians with the development of the library as a space suited to meet the needs of its patrons. Originality/value– While the use of personas is common in communications, marketing and business, their development and use in academic libraries is quite unique. They become quite useful in associating library services to the patrons that use them. Strategic planning also uses personas as services are upgraded and improved or new services are created to meet more persona needs.
Performance Measurement and Metrics – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 11, 2016