Library Services Student Panel

Library Services is committed to working with you to improve existing services and resources and to develop new ones.

How does it work?

Twice each year, we invite a sample of students to join via email with a link to a short online survey. Each member is only required to be on the panel for one year and during that time to take part in up to a maximum of four pieces of research.  However, students have the option of opting out of the panel or a piece of research at any time. Examples of the types of research activity include website usability testing, telephone interviews, online surveys and forums.

Benefits of joining

Here are some students talking about the benefits of being a member of the Library Student Panel.

Transcript for "Reasons for joining the Library Student Panel"

Student 1:

Being given the opportunity to provide feedback will help to improve the library website. I have

some knowledge of website development so if there’s anything I can do to help improve it, then I


Student 2:

When I saw the invitation I thought it coincided well with the module that I’ve been studying. I’ve

just finished a module in technology-enhanced learning which a lot of the work used technological

tools for distance learning. It seemed like a good opportunity to try out the tools you might use to

conduct the research.

Student 3:

I think it empowers students to feel as if they are able to influence or provide a voice for the

University. In other words, I am not alone and anything I say can be taken into account.

Student 2:

The invitations to take part in research activities have been regular and they make it clear that I

can opt out which I’ve had to do on two occasions. They are not too frequent so I don’t forget

about you and they are well-paced.

Student 4:

The advantage of being on the panel is that it introduced us to the Facebook groups and I keep

an eye on that. You can see what’s been posted and what the conversation is all about.

With the panel you can question a little bit further, it just gives an added element more than

anything else.

Student 2:

It was really useful to have that live experience of that sort of interaction where you can’t see

each other face-to-face and you rely only on auto cues. It was great to have something up-todate and see how well it really worked.

Student 3:

I’ve taken part in two activities, one was with groups of other students in an online forum. it was

a different way of expressing my opinion. Having done it I realised there was a fair amount of

change in the way the library website was structured so that was quite a new thing.

Music starts to play introducing:

‘Some of the ways your feedback has made a difference’:

Screenshot 1:

Library web page ‘Services for You’ with the overlay ‘You helped create a new ‘Services for you’


Screenshot 2:

Library web page showing the ‘My Bookshelf’ facility with the overlay ‘and you helped us to create

a ‘bookshelf’’

‘Panel members said: the webchat service should be more visible’:

Screenshot 3:

‘So we changed this’

Library web page showing helpdesk block before the changes have been made

Screenshot 4:

‘to look like this…’

Library web page showing updated version of helpdesk block with image of male

Screenshot 5:

‘We use eye-tracking software to show us what you are looking at’

Library web page being used with eye-tracking software

Screenshot 6:

‘and online interviews or focus groups to ask you for feedback’

Library web page showing ‘My Bookshelf’ facility

Music fades out

Student 2:

So anybody thinking of joining the panel, I would say just take every opportunity, it will make you

use the Library.

If you would like any more information about the panel, email

Your voice, your Library: the benefits of being a member of the panel

  • Working with you as collaborators and co-creators helps us deliver the most up-to-date library services and resources to help you with your studies
  • You can influence which library services and resources are developed and how it is done
  • It is a really good way for us to find out what you want from an online library service
  • You can develop or build on new skills by taking part in online research activities which may help you when you take part in online activities as part of your studies
  • You may learn new things you didn't know about the Library

You said, we did

Here are some examples of what student panel members have told us and the changes we have made as a result of their feedback:
You said We did
You said you wanted chapters on our training video recordings to help you navigate to sections relevant to you.  We added chapters to three of our most popular training session recordings: Introduction to Library Services, The Why and How of Referencing and Improving Your Experience Accessing Online Resources - all on our YouTube channel
You said you thought the 'News' button on the top navigation bar of the Library website contained national and international news, not OU library news.  We moved 'News' to 'About the library' on the website, making it clearer that the news button is about the OU Library. 
When using Library Search, you said you expected tool tips when hovering over icons.  We added tool tips to Library Search. Now when your cursor hovers over icons, you are presented with a description of its purpose. 
When using Library Search, you said you expected to go to the Library Search homepage rather than the Library website when you clicked the 'Library Home' button.  We changed 'Library Home' to 'Library Website' so you knew exactly where the button would take you. The 'New Search' button takes you to the Library Search homepage. 
Some of the menu headings on our website weren’t quite clear. We are improving the menu headers and making sure pages are easier to find.
You were flexible about online training run-times. We’ve tailored our library training sessions to allow for more in-depth teaching on trickier topics as well as short sessions for quick introductions.
You would like an introduction to the library earlier in your studies. We developed the Being an OU Student free course, which includes an introduction to the library.
You said Students in Secure Environments (SiSE) could use more support in getting library resources. We worked with OUSA and others to develop a student volunteer programme designed to help connect SiSE with library resources.
The Library needed to do more promotion of our fabulous library training sessions. We ramped up promotion of our live and recorded library training through social media, which has increased attendance and views.
You wanted more training on digital skills. We added new ‘digital capabilities’ topics added to expand our programme.

Talking to you

Every year we talk to some of you about your perceptions and expectations of the online library at the start of your studies and find out about your experiences of using library services and resources.  We are building these into case studies to help Library staff make better decisions about the services we offer.