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Focus Group Meetings on Document Supply Service


The Library Document Supply Service conducted two focus group meetings in April 2015. One meeting targeted at undergraduates, the other one for postgraduates, staff and faculty. The purpose of these meetings were to find out the document needs of the UST community, and to seek comments on how the Library document supply services can be enhanced.

Two sets of questions were prepared for these two groups. The one for UGs focused on their information needs, searching behavior and knowledge on locating documents. Questions for the second group sought participants’ feedback on their experience in using the existing document supply services, as well as their needs and preferences.

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Results Highlights

Document Needs

UGs mainly need textbooks. Articles are used mostly for essay assignments and only a few would be sufficient. Different types of information are required by faculty and PGs for their research and study. A couple of PGs stressed that the Library should have complete runs of the core journals in their research fields.

Service Awareness

Participants in general were unaware of the document services available. Some UGs heard about HKALL, but only a few have used it. Majority of them did not know what interlibrary loan and document delivery are.

For materials they could not find in the Library, UGs would try HKALL, public libraries or TaoBao. PGs and faculty tend to ask their friends in other institutions to help or search the web. In the end, they might give up and use other similar sources instead. No one mentioned they would ask Library staff for assistance.

Customer Expectations

Although most of the participants never used interlibrary loan and document delivery, when they were told about the services with some details, such as the average time needed to obtain an item, they reckoned that these are useful services.

User Communication

When asked how the Library could keep them informed of our activities and services, responses were quite diverse. Some students preferred email, others recommended putting up posters. Participants also shared their views on the Library website and suggested different ways that could make it more user friendly, interactive and relevant to different users’ needs.


  • Use different channels to promote Library services, such as sending out emails with eye-catching words in the subject, putting up posters not just in the Library but elsewhere on campus, connect to students via student publications, etc.
  • Strengthen coverage on Library services in information literacy classes and workshops, e.g. professional development and LANG courses.
  • Go beyond the Information Desk and reach out to our users. Library staff can roam around the Library providing immediate assistance to users who are far away from the Information Desk or do not feel comfortable approaching Library counters. Such roving service can broaden our contact with users.
  • Improve the Library website by organizing content based on user’s perspective, and presenting information in context using plain language. This would help users visualize which services are relevant at the time of need. Explore the possibilities of using new technologies to create a website that could be personalized and user-centered.

Actions Taken

  • A detailed report was composed containing users’ feedback and recommendations. It was shared with other Library units which may find the information revealing and useful.
  • Two short essays were written to promote the Library’s document services. One appeared in the Library Newsletter and the other in HKUSTSU’s Wings (振翅).
  • Three walk-in briefing sessions for new PGs were arranged to show them how they can get materials from external sources through HKALL, interlibrary loan and JULAC card, as well as the electronic document delivery service for the Library’s physical collections.

The Library values your feedback and welcome further comments. Contact Document Supply Service and let us know your views.

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last modified 15 July 2016