Group Study Room User Research 2019

Summary: Survey results indicate users were generally satisfied with group study rooms in the library, but availability, connectivity, and upkeep discourage some from utilizing this service. Areas for opportunity are based on direct feedback and observation and could be used to guide the direction of the group study room service.

Reservable group study rooms are one of the most popular services the library offers. This resource is available to UCSF students, clinical residents, clinical fellows, and postdocs. The following report shares both quantitative and qualitative data gathered on group study rooms in the Parnassus Library over three months in late 2019. This report is considered phase one of a two-phase study. Improvements to library group study rooms are in the works for 2020 and we will use data gathered from this study as a baseline to compare against future user research to measure success.

Specifically, the findings focus on: 

  • Group study room use
  • Level of satisfaction with group study rooms
  • Direct comments about the group study rooms

Design and implementation

The goal of this research is to get feedback directly from users to augment the usage data and give us a more accurate picture of needs and expectations in 2019-2020 regarding group study rooms.

What we know

Survey tool

The 10 question Qualtrics survey asked respondents:

  • UCSF affiliation (student, clinical resident, clinical fellow, postdoc, etc.)
  • School or department
  • Number of people using the group study room
  • Reasons for using the group study room 
  • How they know about group study rooms
  • Agree/disagree scale on satisfaction with furniture and tech, location, reservation parameters, and reservation workflow
  • How likely they are to recommend group study rooms
  • Additional comments

Physical signage with a link and QR code to the survey was placed on tabletops in all group study rooms and at the service desk. A URL to the survey was also placed on the group study room reservation page in LibCal. For incentive, one random respondent was awarded a gift card from among those who completed the survey and provided their UCSF email.

What we observed

Sometimes what users do reveals things beyond what they say, so observational research was performed once a week to better understand user behavior. From those observations, a few trends emerged:

  • Most users brought laptops
  • Groups rarely used monitors in rooms that had them 
  • Users often surveyed the area for available rooms
  • Markerboards were often not erased after use
  • Trash was often left in rooms after use
  • Users often shifted furniture around the space and in and out of rooms
  • Lights were often left on after use

Who responded

A total of 216 people completed the survey between August 12, 2019, and November 12, 2019. Respondents were made up of students, clinical residents, clinical fellows, postdocs, staff, faculty, and non-current students. Most (93.52% or 202 users) were students.

Most users (33% or 72 users) were from the School of Medicine followed by the School of Pharmacy (28% or 61 users).

Because rooms are reservable via LibCal and MyAccess to select UCSF groups, we did not account for users who were not part of the listed schools/departments. In future research, we’ll add ‘Other (please specify)’ as a survey option.

Room use

Most respondents (82% or 178 users) were using the room with 1-4 people total.

Most respondents (49% or 105 users) used the room to study for an exam or quiz. Some respondents selected ‘Other’ because two or more of the options applied to them. In future research, we will adjust survey settings to allow for multiple answers or ‘All of the above’.

When asked how they found out about group study rooms in the library, the majority of respondents (66% or 143 users) answered ‘Word of mouth’. Several respondents selected ‘Other’ indicating that they heard about library group study rooms at orientation. In future research, we will include ‘Orientation’ as an option.


Whether it’s through orientation or a fellow classmate, word of mouth advertising is highly influential as people are more likely to use a service recommended by their peers. As the data suggests, there are a few areas where we might focus promotional efforts.

  • Newsletters – Bring more awareness to the library group study room service by including information in relevant areas of our monthly email newsletters.
  • Signage – Placing signage in the path of our users at key decision-making points gives them confidence that they are heading in the right direction. More centrally located signage indicating study room locations within the library along with information about reserving a room online would improve wayfinding and serve as an opportunity to suggest and encourage traffic to other locations in the library. 

Group study room satisfaction

Respondents were asked to rate on a 1 to 5 scale how much they agree with the following statements:

  • Furniture and tech meet my needs
  • Rooms are easy to locate
  • I can reserve enough time to get work done
  • It’s easy to reserve rooms online
  • I can always reserve a room when I need one

Respondents mostly agreed with each statement.

The most disagreement came from being able to reserve a room when needed.


  • Additional group study rooms – During peak usage hours, room availability is limited. While most users agreed with the statements above, the most disagreement (19% or 42 users) came from not being able to reserve a room, which demonstrates a need for additional group study rooms in the library. One user wrote, “Is it possible to get more somehow?” Another said, “I wouldn’t recommend the study rooms to anyone because I have difficulty with then [sic] always being reserved or occupied during the school months.”
  • Upgraded connectivity and easy instructions – While many respondents agreed that technology met their needs, in-person observation indicated that few groups utilized monitors in the rooms that had them. Respondents noted that updated connectivity dongles and clear instructions on how to connect to monitors would be helpful. One user suggested, “Have a full set of connection dongles for each TV in the study rooms. Something akin to the setup classrooms have.” Another wrote, “For the most part, the rooms meet our needs, although it is unclear how to connect to screens when they are available.”
  • Cleaner rooms – Many respondents commented on the need for cleaner rooms and better air quality. One user wrote, “It would be nice if everyone cleaned and picked [sic] after themselves, in addition to keeping the furniture clean. A lot of the chairs, if not all of them, have stains.” Another wrote, “A lot of the chairs and furniture are quite dirty. This is the main reason that deters me from using the library space most of the time. Other than that, I think it is a good place to get work done.”
  • More outlets – In-person observation indicated that laptops are used most prevalently and many respondents indicated the need for more available outlets within rooms to charge their devices. 
  • Updated furniture – Several respondents asked for updated furniture. One person wrote, “New furniture and cleaner spaces would be much appreciated!”
  • More modular furniture – In-person observation revealed that groups would often shift furniture around and in and out of rooms to meet their space needs. More modular furniture would provide versatility and flexibility in rooms to make the most of the space, accommodate more users, and allow them to be more mobile. 
  • Visible, informative signage – In-person observation revealed that several users scanned study areas hoping to find an empty room. More visible signage indicating the ability to reserve online and reminding users to pick-up after themselves would be helpful.
  • Whiteboards and markers – While users were not directly asked about markers and whiteboards, many commented on the need for new supplies. The idea of checking-out eraser and marker kits via the front-desk is worth exploring, especially if it will ensure that supplies are replenished periodically.

Net Promoter Score

To identify loyal users and measure user experience, we used the Net Promoter Score® (NPS) measurement by asking users how likely they are to recommend library group study rooms on a scale of 0-10.

Image result for nps score

Our overall NPS score is 41. We’ll use this number as a baseline for phase two of this research to measure success.

Lessons learned

The goal for phase one of this study was to get feedback from users to increase our understanding of needs and expectations regarding group study rooms. Users are mostly satisfied with group study rooms, but availability is limited. Pain points like upkeep and tech connectivity exist, and there are opportunities for signage, furniture, and provided supplies (e.g. dongles, markers, and erasers). Moving forward, we will use these findings to guide the direction of the group study room service and collaborate with library staff to explore identified pain points and areas of opportunity.

2 thoughts on “Group Study Room User Research 2019”

  1. FYI….we do offer markers (green, blue, black, red) and erasers at the front desk. They do NOT have to be checked out like the dongles & chargers. Often times, students will come to the desk reporting there are no markers/eraser in the study room, and we just gladly hand them out. I’m not sure if checking out a bag of these items will make it easier for students and I think they will feel like “it’s just one more thing to worry about returning to the front desk”. One suggestion I have is for someone to replenish the rooms with markers/erasers regularly on a weekly basis (like every Sunday) so at least there’s a good chance that rooms are better equipped during the first days of the week. Walking around and putting markers in rooms shouldn’t take very long I would think especially it’s relatively quieter on weekends than weekdays.

    • That’s a great suggestion, Andy! I agree that it would add an extra step if we were to check-out marker/eraser kits to groups and having them regularly replenished at the beginning of the week would remedy this need.

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