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Libraries and the User Experience (and #ALAO2016)

Thursday, January 21, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Cassondra Vick
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Libraries and the User Experience

User Experience or "UX" may be a term your IT team is more familiar with than your frontline staff, but a quick scan of any library employment listings shows that the concept of User Experience in the physical library is becoming just as much of a concern as UX in the digital one. After all, if the goal of UX is to make navigation intuitive and information usable, don’t we want that for our physical collections, too?

This year’s Academic Library Association of Ohio (ALAO) conference will be all about UX and feature expert Aaron Schmidt of Influx as the keynote speaker. But UX isn’t just important for Academic Libraries – we could all stand to learn more about UX and how it impacts our library services!

There are many great UX resources out there to get you started. Aaron blogs regularly for the Library Journal and Influx has a newsletter you can subscribe to. Weave and Designing Better Libraries are both great resources. Frankly, a quick Google search for “User Experience and Library” will give you a wealth of information to explore.

But, really, is this anything new? Is UX just another name for customer service? Maybe in some ways, but UX also forces a focus on the way our physical design affects the usability of our libraries and asks us to think about what works for the customer, not just what works for us. It challenges us to make radical decisions, change fast, and evaluate whether “We’ve always done it this way,” is a good reason to keep doing things the same way.

Here are some awesome UX ideas I’ve seen recently that give you an idea of what I mean:

  • In a blog post, Aaron mentions a library that felt like their directional signs were not proving useful. The solution? Get rid of all the signs (temporarily!) and see what patrons are actually asking for. This gives you a chance to put the signs patrons need where they need them – and with wording they use and understand.
  • A contest for Great Library UX Ideas Under $100 elicited a similar idea, as well as the idea to have library users design the library’s ideal website. While Website UX designers certainly know their stuff, they need real input from real users to be effective, which is what made the Guerilla Sketch-a-Thon – in which the Robert E. Kennedy Library at California Polytechnic distributed sketch papers asking users to sketch their ideal library website – so brilliant!
  • Another great idea is reserving responsive space in the library that is always changing according to patron needs, such as Oak Park Library’s “Idea Box,” or Chattanooga Public Library’s “4th Floor.”

However, UX can mean something radically different for you and for your patrons. The idea is to listen – and respond! – to what your community needs. Learn more about UX at ALAO 2016, on Oct 28th in Wilmington, OH. Save the Date!

 ~ Cassondra Vick, Technology Educator, SWON Libraries

42nd Annual Academic Library Association of Ohio Conference


User Experience: Exceeding Expectations by Design

Conference: October 28, 2016

Keynote by Aaron Schmidt from Influx

Preconference: October 27, 2016

Workshop with Aaron Schmidt from Influx

Roberts Centre

123 Gano Road

Wilmington, Ohio


Save the date!

Supervisor Tool Kit: Feb 10th, 2016 -- Register today!

Whether you've been a supervisor for years or you're new to the position, Melanie's Supervisor Tool Kit is designed for you. This day-long program will give you the opportunity to learn about the five key supervisory skills and put them into practice during a game simulation. You'll be able to create a 90-day plan of action, and receive a binder full of information and tools for self-evaluation that is yours to keep!

We need a minimum number of registrations to hold the program and it's more fun if there are a variety of people from different library systems. The games and interactive activities just won't work with fewer than 15 people, so register today!

Supervisor's Tool Kit will be held at Hebrew Union College on February 10th from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. There is free parking at HUC. The cost is only $50 for employees of Supporting Member institutions (click "Register Now" to see your price if you are not a member) and includes all materials and lunch.

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