UC San Diego Library
Walk It Off: Assessing Use of WalkStations in the Library
- Author(s): Goodson, Kymberly
- et al.
Presented at the 2016 (Fall) Library Assessment Conference in Arlington, VA.
In October 2014, the UC San Diego Library installed two WalkStations in its popular East Learning Commons (also the overnight study space) after receiving on-going requests from library users for furnishings that allow active seating and working, and in light of studies showing that exercising while studying helps maintain alertness and focus.
Each WalkStation features a treadmill (up to two mph), a safety clip to stop the treadmill if the user falls, an adjustable-height worksurface, and a tabletop electrical outlet to power a laptop or other devices. Lightweight mesh screens are positioned near the machines to provide for additional privacy for users.
During service desk hours, student workers at the nearby Learning Commons desk tally the number of times they see users on the WalkStations, providing at least a limited picture of overall use. With the exception of declines during Library closures and in the summer, statistics of WalkStation use have risen steadily since their installation. These statistics, along with anecdotal observation of the machines, justify the purchase of additional WalkStations. However, it was important to gather user feedback on the equipment to complement the picture painted by the statistics.
Upon their installation, comment posters were placed near the WalkStations to solicit user comments. The nearly 100 comments received were overwhelmingly positive, while also offering ideas to enhance use of the machines. This initial round of comments offered suggestions that we were able to accommodate and facilitate return communication with users when we placed signage at the machines responding to what we heard.
To prepare for summarizing the WalkStations one year after their purchase, a second brief survey was conducted in September and October 2015 soliciting not only qualitative, open-ended comments on the machines, but also responses to specific questions. The simple, paper instrument placed near the WalkStations asked about user satisfaction with the equipment and their location, frequency of use, length of time used per session, and whether one had to wait for an available WalkStation. Survey results were compiled into both quantitative and qualitative insight to consider any ways to improve the WalkStation service for users. Open-ended comments were again primarily positive, and along with the quantitative data gathered, offer additional enhancements, as well as support for purchasing more WalkStations.
This poster will visually present statistics of WalkStation use and satisfaction, examples of compelling comments received in the two rounds of feedback gathering, and recommendations or actions taken as a result of what was learned. It will also show how, while not necessarily statistically representative, this low-cost, easy to implement method of feedback gathering can garner valuable, immediate, and actionable feedback directly from users of a specialized offering such as WalkStations. This practical and sustainable process also quickly allows identification of and responsiveness to user needs or preferences. Such a method has also been used in the UC San Diego Library for a variety of applications, and could easily be adapted by those at myriad institutions to better understand use of spaces, services, or equipment in other settings.