Holistic Library UX #il2013 #internetlibrarian

Aaron Schmidt



– catalog
– signage (use common terms, friendly language)
– reference desk (fortress, like the DMV)

Perception of library:
– Books (first, always)

Too difficult to download e-books / audio books from libraries

Do we really want to compete with Amazon / Apple / Google even if we could?

Grocery store model of libraries: go in, get something. Doesn’t reflect the intellectual aspect of libraries.

24-hour automated “library”? What is a library without people?

Circ stats aren’t the only story. It’s not physically possible to increase circs indefinitely.

We are often reactive to trends.

Focus on results: nobody wakes up and says “I want to use measuring cups today.”

Focus on design (broadly defined): making something for a purpose.

Smoke detector that goes off when you wave at it. Based on what people actually do.

Porter airlines: good user experience, good web site, good people, good service.

User experience is not just for technology. It’s not just customer service.

Should be useful, useable, and desirable.

What was the goal of the services? Was it good? What detracted? Were you confused? Describe the physical space.

Do a UX audit.

Have a UX partner (another library) look at your library with fresh eyes. Then do the same for them.

Have to critique things to get better.

Work like a patron day.

Journey map: the steps a user would have to take.

Signage audit.

Have someone who’s never been to your library accomplish a task.

“The Non-Designer’s Design Book.”

Contextual Inquiry:
“Anthropology, Inc.” in the Atlantic

See how people actually use buildings, furniture, equipment.

User Research:
What users really do, not just what we think they do.


Human-centered library catalog (see slide with “Plainview Library”)

Signs with clear zones about what you can do where.

Different collections: baking pans, tools, plot of land.

Creation spaces

Community publishers.

Connecting people with people.

Solving problems.

“We are not our patrons.”

User experience says we need to listen, not shout at them.

“What’s a library worth” in American Libraries, 2007

No library exists in a vacuum. What’s good for your ecosystem is good for you and vice versa.

Everything we do can make things better.

Updated to add: link to Atlantic article.


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