Inspired by the possibilities of User Experience

8 Jun

Today’s #blogjune post is all about libraries. The future of libraries even.

I went to a great CAVAL professional development seminar today on “User Experience in Libraries”. I loved it for the frank discussion which allowed some of the flaws in our profession to be aired eg how librarians can often be focused more on what we want to share, rather than what the client wants to know.

Already I can hear the muttering “But clients only know what they want, not what they need …

There’s truth in that sometimes – but not as much as libraryworld would like to believe. Besides we no longer live in a world where clients can be held captive at a desk or before running a search and force-fed our information. So let’s engage more with clients on their terms, and see how we can provide this information we want them to know at a time of need, and in a format they want to accept.

We’re very lucky at the University of Melbourne Library to have students willing to offer their views on the library and engage in conversations eg student blogs, on @unilibrary


In the seminar we were shown 12 achievable UX techniques, and if you are interested in the detail sign up for the course through CAVAL, follow @andytraining on Twitter, or read the tweets at #UXLibsOz

What I want to talk about in this blog were the key highlights for me during the day:

  1. Recording lightbulb moments instead of notes; at the start of the session we were given the piece of paper you see below to record key thoughts.
    Actual notes were handed out for the course content, freeing us from detailed notetaking and encouraging you to note instead connections your mind makes with the course material.Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 9.34.55 pm
    Connects into the idea of taking notes as pictures, also called sketchnoting or visual notetaking. Which some great librarians are already doing
    see here for @thelibrarykim  and here @kimtairi
  2. A reconnection with the library community – being in a room with librarians who were happy to discuss our need to challenge our own professional assumptions, to let go our perceived expertise and communicate differently with our clients
  3. Stories as effective communication tools across different user groups, a theme already raised in other seminars I have attended this year. I love story telling, and I need to reframe my assumption that concise information is more appropriate for information exchange.
  4. That I should try new things before I decide that I can’t/won’t find them useful. There was an exercise where we had to write a love letter or breakup letter to a product/service/idea. I really didn’t think I had anything to write about in this way – and when I decided to just write something anyway, got a quite revealing personal insight about something I didn’t realise I missed.
    The flow on is that I shouldn’t predetermine which of these UX methods different client groups might not engage in either.
  5. An idea about shadowing academics in their day.
    Following recent changes to academic support at my workplace, many academics are reporting back frustrations at how services are presented to them. Academics have been attending our meetings, participating in fishbowls or talking about their work, which demonstrates their willingness to share their time in this way.
  6. Graffiti walls for truly barrier less communication with library clients
    Our Student Union has a chalkboard up at the moment with the central question “How do you SwotVac?” and students have responded eagerly with their thoughts.
    I found out today that our Library Redevelopment Librarian Karen Kealy has plans to use graffiti walls in newly refurbished library spaces to gather feedback on what has worked, not worked, been forgotten etc
  7. Gamification of library processes to encourage engagement
    I am very taken with the idea of turning returning books into our library Automated Returns Chutes into a game. This grew out of a fun idea of Andy Priestner’s about a return chute that bites. I need to hit @DrMattFinch up for ideas I think.


Finally I have to say that the day made me appreciate once again the wonderful innovation that has been occuring at University of Technology Sydney (UTS)  Library in the past few years. Many of the techniques outlined have been explored (eg graffiti walls) by @UTSLibrary staff; as well as other ideas of client engagement such as library tours by QRcode, zombie face painting, @malbooth hiring an artist in residence and other attempts to directly engage from a user point of view.




4 Responses to “Inspired by the possibilities of User Experience”

  1. Cherie Basile June 8, 2016 at 10:30 pm #

    Really enjoyed your tweets about #UXLibsOz, Ruth, which led me to this blog and a number of interesting and thought provoking ideas — not to mention a couple of ‘light bulb moments’ too !! Thanks for the round up and the insights, @restructuregirl.

  2. Matthew April 24, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

    I attended a UX workshop by Andy Priestner last year, he was great, and as a result we implemented some UX methods at our library:

    • Ruth Baxter April 24, 2017 at 6:41 pm #

      Thanks for the examples Matthew – very useful.

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