People Interact

Blog about people-centered design by Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas.

Tag Archives: library journal

Low-Cost, No-Cost UX

 of Team Influx recently posted an article on Library Journal that reminds us that user experience improvements can be low-cost and easy. Little improvements can be made that have a large impact on library services, no large budget or managerial red tape necessary.

In this article, he focuses on 4 main points: 

  1. Wrangling Signage – conduct a signage audit and decide on the absolutely necessary
  2. Rethink Service Points – keep a redirect log to cut out bouncing patron’s between service points
  3. Be Visionary – create a shared UX vision
  4. It’s Made of People – involve people who want to help

Read the full article.

Work Like A Patron Day 2011

In 2008, Brian Herzog, a fellow Library Journal Mover & Shaker, announced the first Work Like A Patron Day.  This year we’ve decided to participate.

So on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 be a patron.

Using this classic usability research method, we will be putting ourselves in the patron’s shoes.   We hope to discover new perspectives, ideas and changes that we can implement to make the library a better and more people-centered place.


User Experience: The Reference Interaction

All sorts of interactions take place in the library. The most well-known is probably the one that takes place at a reference desk (or via virtual reference, individual research consultations, or roving reference).

Based on this year’s Reference Renaissance conference, LJ provides four different perspectives on the user experience of reference services. From “Fish Market 101” to “Why I Don’t Use Libraries for Reference Anymore”, here are a few points, tidbits, and thoughts:

  • “Taking a holistic view, the library UX extends to every touch point we create where the community member connects with our human or material resources, physically or virtually.” Whenever the topics of usability and user experience come up in conversation, technology always seem to follow and I find myself saying “It’s more than that.” As a library, it’s great if you have a user-friendly site, but don’t forget about your physical presence as well and the interactions that take place. Think ecosystem.
  • “This profession is all about connection.” Yes! It’s all about connecting. Librarians/library staff/libraries connect people with information, resources, services, other people, etc. Keep in mind that the connecting happens everywhere – reference, outreach, instruction, etc. One time after work, on the way to the subway, a colleague and I got stopped by a parent and kid with a question about where they can get a certain pet animal.
  • I can almost feel the author’s frustration when reading “Why I Don’t Use Libraries for Reference Anymore” because unfortunately, I have seen and experienced this. I find myself telling this one story over and over again. For a library school assignment, I had to ask a question at a library and evaluate the overall reference interview and experience. I walked up to the reference desk where the librarian seem to be extremely focused on the computer. Feeling like I was interrupting, I asked “Why are there three library systems in New York City?” and the response was “Because New York City is very big”. I then found myself asking follow-up questions and variations of the same question like “Is there a reason why it was decided that there would be three library systems?” and “Are there any resources that I can look at?” The response: “Go to the 020’s, the section for library science.” Feeling dismissed, I just left the library. 

Do you have any stories to share? Have you seen or experienced any memorable (good or bad) reference interactions?

Rethinking Libraries: Anythink

Is it a doodle or a scribble? Or maybe it’s a piece of spaghetti. Whatever it is, it’s the logo of Anythink Libraries, located right outside of Denver, Colorado.


Some interesting tidbits, points, and thoughts:

  • No Dewey.
  • No reference desk.
  • Like Darien Library, they changed staff roles by matching skills with duties (i.e. those that are better at handling materials than providing public service are responsible for back-end processes).  
  • When designing the buildings, the new director said “focus on the quality of the space, rather than the number of books we’d put in the space.” In my conversations with librarians who were involved in library renovations or relocations, shelf space is a top priority. While shelf space is important, it’s more important to look at the library space as a whole. 
  • Not everyone is going to like the changes and that’s okay. You can’t please everyone. “Achieving culture change hasn’t been simple—for instance, one new hire, shocked to see the reference desk gone, bowed out.”
  • “Because the library pays many bills (on time) with credit cards that accrue points, it can send staffers to conferences and training events without cost.” What a great and simple idea to reduce the costs of professional development and conference attendance.
  • “Instead of trying to get everything perfect, we work to get the big idea right, then circle back to work on correcting and refining the details.” Someone once said perfection is the enemy of progress. Just get it out there and you can tweak it along the way.

Library field trip to Anythink! (One day…maybe when there’s a conference in Denver. Darien, CT is a lot easier to get to than Thornton, CO). Check out the LJ article for more info about Anythink.

LJ Column: The User Experience

Library Journal (LJ) now has a column focused on user experience. The most recent article has some great examples of user-focused design. Examples include a pink door for storytime, reading glasses at the desk, and a Beetle Kill Pine ceiling. Check out the article for details. Be sure to also check out the first article, which gives a pretty good overview of user experience.

Last month, I saw an example of user-focused design at Yonkers Public Library, NY. The library used “Borrow” and “Return” signage instead of “Circulation”. I think that action words like those are much more meaningful and helpful.

Have you seen examples of user-focused design in libraries or other places?