IS Focus Groups

Students working in the Iris de Freitas Room, Hugh Owen Library

We hold Focus Groups with students on a variety of topics relevant to your interests and would like you to take part. This is your chance to share your feedback on a range of services and be part of shaping new services.

You will receive a £10 voucher for an hour of your time.

  • Each group meeting will take no more than 1 hour
  • You can attend more than one group
  • Everyone’s opinions are welcome


This semester's focus groups

  • LinkedIn Learning 

Join one of our online focus groups in March to share your experiences of using LinkedIn Learning. There is more information on our Digital Skills blog here

Each student will receive a £10 voucher for an hour of their time


Reports from previous focus groups

You, Technology and the Library focus group 2022

Information Services (IS) held three online focus groups with 15 student participants to get feedback about their experiences with technology in the library and study spaces and to gather suggestions for future development. 


Library PCs 

Most participants had used library PCs and gave the following reasons: 

  • Find themselves on campus without their laptop
  • No need to carry laptop to campus
  • Extra or larger screen

However, most students said they prefer to have their own devices for the following reasons: 

  • they are customised to their requirements
  • freedom to choose where to sit and to move 
  • no issues with access to apps like OneDrive or some software


Monitor Hubs 


  • Some students were not aware of monitor hubs in the library 
  • 2 had used them and found them very useful for solo work and for collaboration
  • Most students had experienced incompatibility with their laptops and the hubs (no USB—C connection)


Computer rooms 


  • Students said that computer rooms in the library are difficult to locate
  • Most students preferred having dedicated computer rooms to computers scattered throughout the library as they tend to be quieter
  • Students requested more space at the PC desks to work comfortably




  • Students used the large screens in the library for practicing presentations, for working on group projects and individually for detailed work which is easier on a large screen
  • Students requested that more screens be available in the library’s open areas to facilitate group working without need to book a space in advance


Other study spaces 


  • All students were appreciative of The Workstation study space in town and the potential of free WiFi / access to a PC



  • IS FAQs are useful but can be difficult to navigate
  • There is an issue sometimes accessing things like OneDrive, MS Teams or other apps on library computers


Printers and other equipment  


  • Students requested that printed instructions be available by the printers
  • Many students were not aware of ways to print from their own devices
  • Many students were not aware of the availability of equipment loans 
  • Students would like vending machines that dispense hot water for free
  • It was suggested that interactive whiteboards would be useful in study rooms


Other comments and requests  


  • Students asked for posters or signage about the available library services in the library
  • More group rooms, private study rooms and meeting rooms where students can talk without disturbing others
  • Students would like some private rooms that do not need to be booked in advance
  • Students would like the option of smaller group rooms
  • Students requested booth-type study spaces with screens for privacy
  • Request for instructions alongside printers / screens and other technology in the library

Finding resources for your studies focus group 2022

First steps

Students were all familiar with Primo, the library catalogue, and this was their first port of call when beginning to look for resources for their assignments. Students had learnt about Primo from their lecturer or their librarian.

One PG student who has returned to study after a break has found that a lot of prior knowledge about how the library and the University works is assumed and they have had difficulty finding out what’s available.


The Plagiarism and Referencing LibGuide was the only LibGuide that any of the participants had used, following the recommendation of their lecturers. No members of the group were aware of the subject guides, nor any of the specialist guides.

Students felt it was difficult to find the LibGuides and that they are not well enough advertised or promoted by lecturers.

Participants had not noticed any information about the induction LibGuide for new students as they received so much information at the start of their courses.

Reading Lists

All students were familiar with their reading lists, and everyone accessed them via Blackboard. There was a feeling that these lists are often outdated and occasionally not always provided. Reading lists that have been organised into sections, either by teaching week or seminar/tutorial, were said to be very helpful.

Finding Resources

Most students stated that they had been told about the library catalogue and the library building by their lecturers, so they knew where to go for resources, but not how to find them.

One or two students had attended a session with their subject librarian about finding resources. They had found this very helpful but would be unlikely to ‘bother’ the subject librarian again unless desperate.  


Several students stated that things they find on Primo are not accessible – frequently they find that items that say online access are not available. One PGCE student said they have found the number of journals to which AU subscribes to have decreased dramatically over the last 6 months. No-one had contacted a subject librarian to ask for help accessing a resource – they would tend to look on Google Scholar or go elsewhere to find it independently.

A few students noted that they get signed out of Primo often and get frustrated having to sign in again. A student commented that when they are not on Eduroam they are being asked to sign in multiple times before reaching the resources.

IS Staff

All the students praised the help and support available from IS staff, particularly IT support and staff on Level F, as all had very positive interactions. They commented that they just forget the staff are there when studying away from campus and end up trying to work things out by themselves.  

Revamping Levels E and F of the Hugh Owen Library 2022

Read some of the suggestions we've recieved and add your own to our online feedback board here

Choice of study space

Students prefer to study in the Iris de Freitas room or in the group or individual study rooms on Levels E&F.

Most students said they would book a study room if they were intending to go to the library to work. If they were in the library to fill time between lectures or meet up with friends, they would likely choose the Iris de Freitas room or Level D, as these have the most open and welcoming environments where they would not have concerns about disturbing others.

Computer rooms

Separate computer rooms are appreciated. Students find there are less distractions in a dedicated computer room.

Facilities in the study carrels


It was felt strongly that having the choice of a PC should remain in the carrels. Many people prefer to use their own device alongside a PC, not only to have the use of two screens, but also because the computers have different specifications to their own devices.

Those who used their own laptops in carrels would find monitor hubs useful so they could work on two screens and not need a power supply.

Power sockets

There are not enough working plug sockets in carrels.  Sockets with USB ports would be helpful.


The lighting in the carrels needs to be adjustable to personal preference. A lack of plug sockets means that using the lamp is not always an option.


It was felt that adjustable desks, those that can be raised to standing desk height, would be great as sitting for long periods of time in the small spaces can be uncomfortable.


There are not enough accessible private study spaces.


There were many comments that Levels E and F are dark and dimly lit and make people feel tired and strained. Table / desk lamps would help brighten study spaces and improve concentration levels.

Aesthetics and furniture

Everyone asked for more colour on Levels E and F. Deep greens, teals and blues were popular suggestions as the colours are relaxing and warm. Students requested light wooden shelving and lighter furniture and white space to brighten the area, with ‘pops’ of colour throughout.

Students want pictures on the walls. Some suggested photos and pictures of local scenery and places. A very popular suggestion was to use these levels as exhibition space for School of Art students. This way the students’ art would be seen by more people and the pictures could be changed, maintaining interest.

It was suggested that reading corners could be created, more communal areas featuring sofas and other comfortable seating, with wooden shelving and nice lighting.

Overwhelmingly students would like to see the library making more of the views over Aberystwyth and the sea from these levels.

Other facilities

Everyone asked for were more vending machines with food and drink, coffee in particular, on the levels especially near any study rooms.

Digital Strategy Focus Group 2021


Experience of online learning and using digital services   

  • None of the participants in the Focus Groups had experienced any technical issues with online learning and had found library and IT services to be easily accessible.  
  • Students have found that academics have been more available and more responsive via email. Communication has improved across the University. Weekly email digest from University has helped the information overload. 
  • Some teething problems with online learning but is now much more effective. 
  • Procrastination is a major problem whilst studying at home. Students find the structure of timetabled study sessions / study spaces in the library useful and find working around other students motivating  

Digital wellbeing   

  • Very difficult to separate study and leisure time. Students have found it hard to switch off whilst living in their workspace  

Digital connections 

  • Students don’t feel like they really get to know each other online - no body language and not able to pick up on people’s ‘vibes’. Not able to have proper chats and no desire to socialise or do other things online, as the time spent online is overwhelming  
  • Students don’t contribute as much in seminars and some groups can be silent  

Digital accessibility 

  • Issues with e-submissions as email receipts can take a while to arrive  
  • Printing is more difficult 
  • Quizzes on Blackboard are helpful for motivation   

Summary of most valuable services: 

  • Turnitin Originality reports and receipts 
  • Remote access to software 
  • VPN 
  • Stable internet connection 

Student Enquiry Focus Group 2021


Examples of good responses to enquiries   

  • Want a quick response, and an easy way to contact   
  • If students weren’t sure who to contact they would search Google rather than browse through webpages or use website search   
  • Responses to emails over the past year have been good  
  • Personal tutors are first point of contact   

Challenges to finding answers to enquiries   

  • Academic responses have been great   
  • Relationship with personal tutor (or having personal tutor) is so important   
  • Academic issues – one student would approach lecturers but another wouldn’t as all lectures have been pre-recorded and doesn’t feel confident to approach them without having “met”   

How do you prefer to make an enquiry – live chat / email / in person? 

  • Like Online Chat services. Don’t have to write an email - it’s simpler and can get more to the point.   
  • One student would search the internet for step-by-step videos. Would be able to get the information needed 24/7.   
  • One negative experience with a particular service will make people very unwilling to use that service again.   
  • Phone calls are fine but more of a time commitment. Lots of people have problems with phone calls, and some would prefer to see person, so Teams meetings are preferred.   

If you have a question about University life or services – what is your usual route to get this information on campus or virtually?   

  • PG student will contact supervisor with any academic questions   
  • Personal tutor is the main contact point for most UG students and is a vital connection with the department and the wider university.   
  • Peer support is also very important.   

Most popular/valued enquiry point   

  • Personal tutor / supervisor   
  • Accommodation office    
  • IT service desk