VALA2022 Vendor Hayes

Paywalls and Pandemics: Improving User Experience and Ensuring Seamless Access

VALA2022 Vendor Presentation

Matt Hayes
  • Managing Director
  • Lean Library, SAGE Publications Ltd
Christos Skoutas
Caroline Gauld
  • Lean Library, SAGE Publications Ltd

Please tag your comments, tweets, and blog posts about this session: #vala2022


Easy access to content and seamless user experience can be a barrier for patrons when accessing library discovery services. There has been a shift in patron expectation in recent years as they have significantly moved away from the library as the starting point in their research process, and are more likely to use open search tools such as Google Scholar, further increasing the difficulties in resource access. A 2021 report by Lean Library found that 79% of faculty and 74% of students now begin their discovery process outside the library. A 2020 study from Evans and Schonfeld also looked at patron workflows in 117 libraries, and found that only 6% of patron discovery begins at the library.

Patrons are now used to a seamless user experience in all aspects of their online life – on platforms such as Google, Wikipedia and social media. With an increasing number of patrons now ‘digital natives’, there is an unintended digital divide emerging between patrons and the library. Users are expecting something different from the discovery than what they are getting, and their changing attitudes towards the digital experience mean the library needs to work harder to give them the expected level of experience in their discovery.

How do we improve the discovery experience for patrons, so that it better reflects their real-world preferences outside the library?

The University of Melbourne found that these user experience issues were accentuated during the pandemic, with the sudden move to remote learning. This session will explore how the University of Melbourne improved the user experience at their library throughout the pandemic, using OpenAthens and Lean Library to make access more seamless whilst maintaining data security.


Matt Hayes is Managing Director of Lean Library, Christos Skoutas is Senior Business Development Manager at OpenAthens, and Caroline Gauld is Manager of Discovery at the University of Melbourne.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License