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Assessment + User Experience

honors reading room

Read the AUX @ Swarthmore blog for information about current projects!


The Libraries' Assessment Plan is based upon our Mission + Values + Goals and is shaped by both our Strategic Plan(s) and an annual Institutional Effectiveness Report for the College. We choose a variety of assessment methods and aim to assess something from each area of our core functions every year:

  • Services + Spaces
  • Collections + Discovery
  • Student Learning

Learn more about our assessment projects and methods!

User Experience

The libraries use a variety of research methods to learn about user behavior and in order to make decisions that will improve their experience of the libraries, whether they are retrieving an item from the stacks, doing online research through our catalog, or attending an event.

Read more about recent projects, what we've learned and what changes we've made as a result of usability testing and user experience research!

Usability Testing

We run usability sessions each month during the school year to learn how to improve our website and all our online tools including the Tripod Catalog

Card Sorting

As the College planned for a new web design for, we knew the Libraries pages needed work. We ran card sorting sessions with students and librarians to try to achieve intuitive information architecture for the site while remaining in the design framework of the College. Although we've made a lot of progress, some of our changes remain in draft form!

LabX: the Library Advisory Board and User eXperience Group

This group of up to twenty students meet monthly to give feedback on issues, spaces, services, and to offer suggestions.


Most interviews have been with faculty and are usually on the topic of the catalog; why they use or not, how they may teach using it to their students and what they want their students to know about it.

The McCabe Suggestion Book

A plain, spiral bound, blank page notebook lives on the main service desk in the main library, McCabe and its pages fill quickly with suggestions for items people want the libraries to acquire, requests for amenities for the building, random drawings and even discussions between commenters. Librarians read the book each day and respond with answers to questions. It's low tech, yet an immediate, effective and fun way to gather feedback.


People frequently behave differently from how they say they behave. Observation is often the most powerful usability tool there is.