Pilot Spaces and Prototypes

Find out about experiments taking place at Harrison Library.

You might have noticed a few changes around Harrison Library over the past few weeks. These are part of an exciting user experience project design to help us better engage with students and to improve our library space.

library murals student art






 What we’ve done so far

We’ve talked to lots of students, observed behaviours and elicited feedback on a wide range of topics. From all of the issues raised and ideas suggested we then went on to develop a range of quick and easy prototypes in response.

Many of the prototypes are quick experiments put together to help visualise the concept, gather further feedback and iterate upon. 

Here are a few of the ideas that we’re currently trialling at Harrison Library. We welcome you to come and try them out and tell us what you think.

Reading Garden - an underused space has been transformed into an area for calm and relaxed reading with comfy seating. Situated in the old reservation room, the Reading Garden responds to requests for a space to chill when stressed out.  A nature-themed wall mural painted by students in response to feedback to bring 'the outside in'  helps set the tone. 

Library Reading Garden






Silent Escape - we know that some of you prefer to study in total silence but the formal ‘exam room’ conditions of the 3rd floor silent zone can be a little off-putting. In the Silent Escape, you can work in peace in a comfortable, ‘homey’ environment.  If this appeals to you come to MD108, no booking required. 

library Silent Escape






Group Study Room Murals- we invited students to create murals in two of the second-floor group study rooms in order to inspire users and bring more energy and creativity into the library space. Whilst these student murals are only in two small study rooms, tell us if you want to see more student artwork throughout the library space. 

Furniture Showcase- We’re testing out and gathering feedback on a range of furniture samples. Come try them out, ground floor, Harrison. Forget the colour or finish of the samples, try them out and picture yourself studying with them, then tell us what works and what doesn't work for you. 

furniture showcase for library






Staff Helpdesks have been reintroduced on floors 1 and 2 to help increase staff visibility and access. 

Signage- we’re experimenting with signage to make navigation easier. In particular, we’re trying out colour-based collection signage, responding to feedback that the Dewey Decimal numbering system is confusing and sometimes users just like to browse by subject.

Look out for a lot more signage changes coming over the next few months! 

colour code signage






Bookshelf moves – we have moved a run of shelving closer to the 2nd floor group study room as an experiment to show how the close proximity and visual presence of books changes behaviours, both of the users outside and inside the study rooms. In addition, the move was to explore the idea of using book shelving as a form of sound baffling.  

library bookshelf moves






Graffiti Wall - This idea expands on the ‘feedback wall’ already in use, allowing more space for you to express your views and take ownership of the space.  Got something to say about any of these ideas or anything else about the library? You can find the graffiti wall on the ground floor of Harrison library, behind the Reading Garden.

student feedback wall






Why we’ve done it

We know the library space feels a little tired and in need of some TLC, we hear complaints about facilities sometimes and we want to put that right. 

Library user opinions are very important to us. We want to understand what the library means to you and how you use the space, and then deliver solutions which are fit for purpose and meet your needs. This phase of research, trial and experimentation is crucial in helping us achieve our goals. These low-fi solutions aren’t set in stone, so if we find something isn’t working we can just go back to the drawing board. We also want to have a little fun and creativity along the way. It’s important that students and staff feel comfortable in the environment, as the library serves multiple purposes and in many ways is a home from home.