Books stacked on shelf in a library

The complete user experience solution

17 July 2023 • Michael Smith, marketing officer

Are you responsible for improving the user experience in your library? If you are, and you haven't read the library user experience report 2023 yet - now's the time. Created by OpenAthens, it captures student's and researcher's thoughts about problems they face when they use digital resources and suggests ways to overcome them.

Users don't always have a happy experience

The report shows many students and researchers strongly prefer digital resources. In fact, some don't use anything else:

There's no real point in me going to the library in person. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a paper resource


However, where should they start their online search? Because portals can be clunky, and the online space is so vast, finding and accessing resources can be hard. If a student or researcher tries to circumvent the library portal they may find themselves up against an unnecessary paywall, or unsure about the quality of what they’ve found. Two of the problems that the interviewees experienced most often can be summed up as:

  • “I do not have access to all the content I need” 
  • “I am not sure about the quality or impact factor of what I have found” 

And beyond this, the survey’s respondents were worried that they aren’t working effectively with what they do find. For example, they can struggle to organize or annotate what they’ve read:

It’s a lot of work arranging the pdfs. If there was another way to make it easier…


It's arduous renaming files every time


It all boils down to this: today’s students and researchers may visit their academic library’s physical spaces only infrequently, but they need help from its professional staff more than ever. 

So what can your library do?

Perhaps most importantly, you can deploy a user authorization tool that gives reliable, seamless, remote access to quality resources from thousands of publishers around the world. That way, they can find everything they need easily from a trustworthy source. 

The OpenAthens complete solution is an authentication tool that provides exactly this, seamless access. It also future-proofs your users’ authorization journey. It is a single, fully managed service that provides the federated access solutions supported by most big provider platforms and also the proxy solutions supported by some others.  

In time, more providers will migrate to federated access because it’s more secure. But until they do, OpenAthens will support both managed proxy and federated authentication. Libraries using OpenAthens won’t need a new authentication tool when provider platforms update their own systems. 

Federated authentication opens up more possibilities for improving user experience. For example, providers can create a secure profile to understand the interests and preferences of individual users in pursuit of better UX. That profile can be completely anonymous because OpenAthens doesn’t release any personally identifiable information by default. While users’ personal information is protected, the profile enables added-value features like saved searches, annotation and even suggestions for related content. 

Person typing on a laptop