Love it or leave it – and free food!

Yes, we are offering free food again in return for 45 minutes of your time all in the name of research! We are always looking at new ways to improve our services and the only way to really understand what you need is to get feedback.

But I think we can all agree that we’ve had enough endless surveys so we want to try something new and have a bit of fun as well.

For this project, we would like you to write a letter, but not just any letter. We would like you to pen either a breakup or  love letter to a service or thing that the library offers. This is your chance to pick something and vent your frustrations or profess your undying love, it could be a database that’s melted your heart or a stapler that you never want to see again – the choice is yours

What made me love thee? let that persuade thee
there’s something extraordinary in thee. I cannot: but I love thee; none
but thee; and thou deservest it.

― Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor, 3.3

How this works

We have reserved a room and will put you in a group of 6-7 of your peers. After we have explained the project in detail and offered you some light (and delicious) refreshments, we will ask you to sign a consent form. Then you have 10 minutes – no longer – to write your deepest thoughts. Why only 10 minutes? One, we know your time is precious. Two, we don’t want you to overthink this. Once you have finished writing, we would like to record you reading the letter aloud as your nuances and expressions are just as important for us to capture. If you don’t feel comfortable being recorded or you don’t want to stand up in front of your peers, not to worry we can always make other accommodations.

“Like some wines our love could neither mature nor travel.”

― Graham Greene, The Comedians

Why a love/breakup letter?

Writing a letter is a familiar format for people whether you put pen to paper or type out an email. Writing a letter about your feelings gives us insight that asking you simple questions would not. We want to know the reasons why you love or hate a service. By understanding your feelings, we in return, will be able to customize the things we offer. We won’t be able to change the search page on a database (erm talking to you Business Source Complete), but we can change our training that we provide for that database.

In order to inspire you, and get your creative juices flowing Smart Design posted this video mashup of their research project. And we’ve even got involved ourselves: here are some letters Katie and Sarah have written (not Library related). We had a lot of fun writing these and quite a few laughs.

Katie’s break-up letter to Virgin Atlantic

Dear Virgin Atlantic,

We made a good go of it, but what we once shared is gone now. You used to set time and space aside for me back then. When I was a university student in a far-off country you were the one I used to turn to help bring me back home again with your student discounts and reliable reputation. I was always comforted by your red seats and your welcome aboard package. You made me feel like you really cared.

I was so young and naïve back then. It’s such a simple thing, but I was so happy when you brought me an edible gluten-free meal to eat and an extra drink (free of charge, of course), none of that cardboard the others served me. Yes, you too always gave me fruit for dessert, not realizing how far a piece of chocolate would have gone, but I could look pass that disappointment. I was never bored with my personal screen and an array of entertainment to choose from. I felt safe in your synthetic, but cozy arms with your complimentary blanket and pillow.

But all of that has changed. We have grown older. The space you once provided me with has disappeared and now my knees touch the seat in front of me (God forbid someone puts their seat back!). I now struggle to sit still and relax when I’m with you. As your caring, comfort, and, most importantly, your affordability have decreased, my patience has worn thin.

Maybe it’s time that has ended our relationship. I am no longer a student and you no longer treat me as special. But the moment where I knew, knew that you didn’t really care, that I was just one of the many and not the one, was on a long-haul flight where you gave me a seat with no personal screen available. That showed me you didn’t really care. So I will have to say so long for now. Maybe we can reunite in the future, when I have time on my hands and money to burn. Until then, I have found another, though not as good nor as generous with the food, drinks, entertainment, blankets, or pillows, but he doesn’t make me pay an arm and leg – my expectations are lower.

I will always remember my time with you fondly.

Once yours,

Sarah’s love letter to Emirates business class

Dear Emirates business class,

You have ruined me for anyone else. Not only will I never be able to forget you, even if I never see you again, but I will always compare you with any other flight I take. I’m not writing to have a go at you; I’m not angry at you for that, though maybe I should be. I just wanted you to know.

Months later, it feels like a dream. Am I making you up? Surely no one can be that good. People tell me that others are better, offer more, cost less, but I don’t believe them. I can’t believe them. I can’t believe that someone could take such care of me, right from our first meeting. You picked me up and took me to the airport; what were you thinking of? Planes are your business, not chauffeur-driven cars. A true gentleman, you made sure I got home safely as well. You kept me hydrated, let me choose the music on the radio and dropped me off right outside. Such levels of selflessness just can’t be real.

You made everything so easy. You made falling in love with you so easy. The minute I stepped into your world, I felt relaxed. You ensured I was relaxed in a place that’s full of stress, which seems designed to make you stressed. You gave me your full attention, so considerate and knew what I wanted before I even asked for it. Everything was planned to cater to my every need. There was food ready and waiting, drinks on hand. There was no waiting around as you even had that covered. The TV was playing, books, magazines and newspapers just waiting to be picked up. There were even people to open doors. I thought that just didn’t happen anymore. This was all before I even stepped on the plane!

Thinking about the flight now, it’s surreal. It wasn’t like any plane I had seen before; well, it was the biggest airplane in the world and later I was on the aptly named Dreamliner; every aspect lines the flight of anyone’s dreams. I wanted to close my eyes, but I couldn’t; there was too much to do. You kept me up all night, making sure I got no sleep. It felt like we were the only people in the world, crossing time zones together. I wanted to explore every part of you, from the lounge bar, to the freebies, from the exquisite cuisine to all the entertainment. It was almost too much. Who needs 2,500 channels of films, TV, music and games? You were overwhelming. I lay there in my own cabin on my full bed, everyone asleep around me or in the little worlds you created for them, looking up at the stars shining from the ceiling and thought I could live like this forever, cocooned in your blanketed embrace, earplugs blocking out everything, one button bringing help right to me. You spoiled me and made me feel like I deserved it. I felt no guilt as we walked past the economy passengers. I just felt sad that they couldn’t have the same experience.

So while I may never be in your company ever again, that I will once more be locked out of your world due to money, opportunity or fear that it couldn’t be that wonderful, I will cherish the memories of our time together forever. I live in hope that this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship; after all, we were in it for the long haul…

Always yours,

If you are interested in taking part of this project we will be sending around an email with proposed times. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected].

Katie Hughes

Katie Hughes

User Experience Librarian
Katie Hughes

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