ITU Library User Research project

In early 2021 we were approached by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Library team to help them review their bibliographic newsletter and learn more about the information seeking behaviour of their users. 

The original task was to review and relaunch the ITU Library’s Monthly Reading List (MRL), a bibliographic newsletter, which contributes to the ITU Library’s goal of supporting the ITU staff and their members’ work by providing reliable and up-to-date information on the ITU’s areas of work and activities.

This involved taking a broader look at user behaviour and gathering insights into how ITU staff and other key audiences kept up with information relevant to their work, their preferred research methods as well as formats. 

We used a range of research methods, both qualitative and quantitative, across the key phases of the project. These were decided in consultation with the ITU library team to factor in logistical as well as strategic requirements and the distribution of the ITU staff at the time of the project. 


In the initial discovery phase we worked closely with the ITU Library team to identify the goals of the service, to find out more about the key objectives for this work and finalise user research questions. 

The ITU Library was looking to deliver a more accessible, collaborative and user-driven version of the MRL to better meet the needs of ITU staff and the wider audience and contribute to a user-centred culture in the organisation.

This involved learning about information seeking and research needs that may also impact the library collections as well as the bibliographies services the library provides. 

We talked with stakeholders and the ITU library team to identify key research questions. 

We then set about gathering insights from both existing and potential users using qualitative and quantitative user research methods. 

Desk research

Our thorough desktop research included analysing data gathered from existing web analytics, logs, social media, previous feedback received and other available data alongside broader sector analysis.

Personas and journey mapping are other great tools we utilised for getting a better insight into the users’ behaviours, needs and experience.

Current state journey mapping helped us identify barriers and friction in the current user experience of the library’s eresources. 

We created a series of user personas based on our rigorous background research and our conversations with the ITU library team. These personas, which represented different segments of the ITU staff, then helped us map various user journeys describing their individual experiences. 

Staff survey

We also conducted a survey with the ITU staff and members to collect and analyse data about current and potential ITU Monthly Reading List users as well as non-subscribers. 

The survey focused on collecting quantitative data as well as initial task-level behaviour such as current information seeking and professional current awareness workflows and any barriers encountered. 

User interviews

Users were recruited from a range of roles and parts of the organisation to participate in in-depth interviews about their information seeking behaviour, goals and preferences. 

We conducted remote in-depth interviews with a range of ITU staff and stakeholders in a range of locations.

Analysis of these interviews brought invaluable insight into their current information seeking behaviour and provided us with better understanding of the research requirements of the ITU audiences and barriers these users encountered along the way.

Analysis and Report

The full findings of our user research was then shared with the ITU team, both in a comprehensive written report and a summary presentation.

In our final audience insights report, we shared our comprehensive findings from the research.

We also provided recommendations and actionable options for the Library team to build on the insights identified during the project. 

We are looking forward to implementing these outcomes into building a new, user-driven version of the newsletter.