Hello all, 

As a user experience professional, I would strongly encourage you to prioritize contextual interviews above surveys and focus groups. While all methodologies have advantages and disadvantages, it is difficult to understand users' motivations, needs and workflows without directly observing them. You can learn more about contextual interviews at 

Contextual interviews give you the opportunity to take the concepts that you have already developed and show them to users to gauge their responses. Contextual interviews allow form to follow function, and help the librarian avoid jumping too quickly to a solution without properly analyzing the problem the users need solved.

Focus groups are useful, but can lead to groupthink. Surveys, unless carefully written, can limit users' responses, but both are efficient methods for quickly gathering a lot of data.  Here is a good resource for choosing your methodologies:

Good luck! It sounds like an exciting project.

Joanna Widzer, MS, CSM
Web Services and UX Librarian
National Institutes of Health Library

-----Original Message-----
From: Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Kowalik, Eric
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2023 11:01 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [EXTERNAL] [CODE4LIB] Needs Assessment Ideas for Re-envisioning a Lab Space


I'm looking for any advice or insights anyone has for conducting a needs assessment to re-envision a computer lab. If you have any surveys you sent faculty and students or focus group activities you conducted or anything else you found helpful in the process, I'd really appreciate it.

A bit of context. The lab is in the College of Communication and started in the late 1990s as a traditional computer lab with high end Mac and PC machines for video editing, photo editing, 3D rendering, etc.

About 5 years ago, the building housing the College of Communication went through a major renovation and a number of classrooms now have high end machines similar to and in some cases better than what is in the lab. Combine that with more students bringing their own devices to campus makes the computers in the lab not as much of a draw for students.

The space is an open concept with pods of computers, a 3D printer, white board wall, lounge seating, smart lighting, wall projector and a large monitor connected to a Quest VR headset.

The intent of the space is to provide a place for faculty and staff to stimulate their innovation and creativity with new tools, i.e. VR headsets, 3D printers, etc. Prior activities have included drop-in VR time, Adobe Creative Suite Workshops and a Nintendo Video Game Tournament.

Any advice on gathering input from the students and faculty or ideas on how to make a lab space more active would be greatly appreciated!

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