Purpose - The purpose of this study is to determine user suggestions for digital libraries' functionality and features. Design/methodology/approach - A survey was conducted as part of this study, in which users' suggestions for digital libraries were solicited, as well as their ranking opinions on a range of suggested digital library features. Findings - The study revealed that, regardless of users' information technology (IT) backgrounds, their expectations of digital libraries' functionality are the same. However, based on users' previous experiences with digital libraries, their requirements with respect to specific features may change. Practical implications - Involving users in digital library design should be an integral step in the process of building a digital library - in addition to the classic roles of evaluation and testing. Originality/value - In previous digital library user studies, users were involved implicitly (e.g. observed) or explicitly (e.g. diary notes). However, they were never asked to suggest digital library features or functionalities, as this was left to usability and domain experts. This study approached digital library design from a new perspective, giving users an opportunity to express their suggestions on future functionality and features of digital libraries. Moreover, in contrast to previous work, this study has explicitly taken into account the IT abilities of those interacting with a digital library.