Ethnography, Usability study, Pathways, Wayfinding, Library UX, Navigation


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate similar and different wayfinding strategies used by novice and expert patrons at an academic library.

Design/methodology/approach – The study employed a usability study approach. In total, 12 people, places, or things were identified as important for students to be able to locate within an academic library. Students from one of three groups (high school, freshmen, and seniors) were randomly assigned a scenario requiring them to find the indicated person, place, or thing. Student researchers video recorded participants and took field notes during the wayfinding activity and conducted an interview about participant’s experience following the exercise.

Findings – Total and average time needed to locate the person, place, or thing indicated in the scenario were determined for each group. In addition, wayfinding tools (signs, maps, help desks, technology, and experience) used by participants were identified.

Originality/value – The research compares novice and expert wayfinding strategies. It is unique in its use of student researchers as part of a sociology class project, to collect and analyze the data.

Original Publication Citation

Holt Zaugg Curtis Child Dalton Bennett Jace Brown Melissa Alcaraz Alexander Allred Nathaniel Andrus Drew Babcock Maria Barriga Madison Brown Lindsey Bulloch Todd Corbett Michelle Curtin Victoria Giossi Samantha Hawkins Sergio Hernandez Kayia Jacobs Jette Jones David Kessler Samuel Lee Sara Mackay Amy Marshall Dallin Maxfield Cory McFarland Brennen Miller Maia Roberson Kristy Rogers Devin Stoker Manase Tonga Abby Twitchell Tinesha Zandamela , (2016),"Comparing library wayfinding among novices and experts", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 17 Iss 1 pp. 70 - 82

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Emerald Insight




Harold B. Lee Library

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor