UX in libraries is gaining in strength. The user experience deserves our attention. My title changed last December, when I went from being one of three science librarians, to a solo UX librarian. Solo UX work is not uncommon–Leah Buley markets her UX Team of One quite well. But it is hard, and now libraries have had a taste for it, the roles are expanding.
MIT Libraries just planned and designed a new User Experience Group. The purpose of their group is, “to create a holistic, user-centered, innovative approach to service design for both virtual and physical spaces, based on quantitative and qualitative assessment data that focuses on user needs.” Perfect! UX is not only about digital space. Teams can focus on digital, and physical space, and all the hundreds of little details that go into making libraries fantastic places.
MIT helped transition staff to new roles, which include: user needs assessments, usability testing, gathering and interpreting statistics, virtual sites design and production (web and mobile), embedding content outside of their own systems (in Flickr, Google Scholar, course management systems, etc.), public space design and programming, marketing and communication. A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education talks about their project to create a final resting place for failed tools, called the Beta Graveyard.
The times that we are living in call for creative ways to do things that we might not have done otherwise. We need to look at new needs and new ways to become the libraries of the future. And new ways that teams can carry out our user’s dreams.