Introducing the User Cafe


The User Cafe is a new initiative to collect data from library users.

During cafe sessions, library visitors are invited to participate in user research with coffee and snacks in exchange for 10 minutes of their time.

Data collected during sessions are used to improve the designs of various library systems and services.

In this post:

  • How it works
  • Pilot sessions
  • Request a cafe session
  • Credit

How it works

Passers-by in the library will see a table with a sign reading “User Cafe” (see image below).

A photo of the User Cafe set up in MD Anderson Library
An example setup of the User Cafe

Users are asked if they have 10 minutes to spare to answer a few questions from the UX librarian.

Very little is said about the questions — users are only told that it will just take 10 minutes of their time.

Participants are then sat behind the divider (seen in the image above) and taken through a user test of some kind.

After completing a test, users are given access to free coffee and snacks.

Pilot sessions

The User Cafe has been piloted over summer 2017 to test methods and prove viability of the concept.

Pilot sessions have been written about on this blog:

Request a cafe session

While the main aim of the User Cafe is iteration of the Libraries website, UH librarians and Libraries staff are encouraged to reach out for ideas to adapt for the User Cafe.

Appropriate projects for the User Cafe include:

  • Testing a website or web system
  • Talking to users about their current needs, feelings, etc.
  • Collecting feedback from users about a specific service

Other projects might be possible, depending on your needs (I’m open to anything!).

Please email Daniel if you’d like to discuss a potential project for the User Cafe.


The idea of the User Cafe was inspired by a presentation by Zoe Chao, UX Librarian at Penn State University Libraries.

Thanks to Mario Gonzalez, student worker for Library Technology Services, for helping to facilitate cafe sessions.

Thanks also go to the following librarians and staff for their insight and assistance with the creation of the User Cafe:

Josh Denby
Customer Service Manager

Lee Hilyer
Head of Information & Access Services

Carolyn Meanley
Library Development Coordinator