18 considerations before developing your next library service

HiRes_TREEHaving a successful project or being inspired for a service idea at a conference is the fun and easy part. However, to come up with a service that really hits the spot with your users, one that they love and use, is another.
If you’re experimenting with a new gadget or app or rather developing a new portfolio of services, considering some of the following from the start might support you in establishing your next excellent service for your authors or PhD students for example.

The who and why

  1. What pain or gain is your service answering? Need reminding of the Business Model Canvas, see here.
  2. Have you made the business case for your service? Have you evaluated the risks and opportunities of your idea?
  3. Where does this service fit into your research support and library strategy?
  4. How are you going to engage with your end users from the start, during the design process, at launch and thereafter? Do you follow user-centred design principles?
  5. Are you interested in serving a particular disciplinary community or more than one through a multi-disciplinary solution?
  6. Rolling out an existing (e.g. medical library) service to another disciplinary community might bring quite some challenges with it related to ICT, information and knowledge culture.
  7. Is it a quick win or a long-term investment you are looking for? I.e. are you looking for implementing low-hanging fruits or innovative solutions with this service?


8.   Before deciding on the value in developing a new service, locate and analyse the services that already exist that relate to your planned service either locally or externally. A competitive analysis will also support your case to other financial stakeholders.


9.   Consider using personas when designing the service.

10.  Consider service blueprinting and mapping and discuss how this new service will fit into current processes with your process managers. See an article on service blueprinting from Educause here.

11. Consider involving service design specialists/students you might have in house.


12. What resources are needed, including expertise, to
a) develop it, and b) sustain it?

  • Is your service low or high cost?
  • Is it something to be developed in the short, mid- or long term, and is its development short, medium or long term?
  • Is the service infrastructure-light or infrastructure-heavy?
  • Do you have the expertise in-house or need to outsource parts of it?
  • Will engaging with internal or external partners to collaborate bring you more benefits?
  • Have you considered a shared service model?


13. Translate user needs into user requirements and specifications that are crystal clear for your IT staff.

14. What user testing programme do you have in place?


15. Consider how you are going to evaluate your services in the future:

  • Follow your users using techniques like the Sales Funnel.
  • Set some performance indicators for your service at specific intervals.
  • Consider how you are going to record your information, and lessons learnt.
  • Consider baseline surveys and follow-ups to see change in behaviour or how to meet user needs for example.


16. Is it important to consider the sustainability of this service from the outset or is your organisational culture rather focused on experimentation where sustainability has less of a place?

17. What are the costs to maintain your service over the next 3-5 years?

Brand visibility

18. Will this service increase the visibility of your institution in
a) your own local user communities and/or
b) in your professional regional, national or international communities?

What other considerations have you had that helped get your service right? Please share with other readers below.


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