Getting from here to there

My family tells a story about my first day at kindergarten. I was a stay at home kid, so the first day of school was quite traumatic, but I was encouraged to go by being told, “When you go to school you are going to learn how to read books.”

I was so excited! So, I went to school, and when I came home I was in tears. It had not gone well. My family, anxious to figure why I was crying so hard prompted, “Was someone mean to you? Did you fall down? What happened?”

My lip started to quiver, and I replied, “I did not learn how to read today. You said I would learn how to read today and I didn’t.” Of course, they all found that quite amusing.

I am thinking about this story, because, of course, I suddenly want to know everything about the User Experience, and also, I want our libraries to be fully invested in UX ideas. Whoa! One letter at a time please!

So, we are already busy saving funding for libraries, and worrying about staffing, and what are we going to do if we start asking questions of our users and they want things?! Well, that may indeed happen, and it is an opportunity for a rich user-centered conversation. If users do want more hours, and you can’t provide them because of limited funding, let them know. Let them help you to serve them, and to come up with innovative solutions to meet the need. Maybe more people in the community can volunteer, or maybe some of them would love to donate some money, and had not known that it was needed at their favorite library.

User Centered Design doesn’t happen overnight. And so, what are the first few words to learn? If you only have five minutes, what can you do to start to infuse UX into your library?

Here are ten things:

  1. Start reading UX books. Take five minutes to browse UX in your favorite online bookstore.
  2. Send out a 2 question survey to your users. Anything! Make it open ended, and start the conversation! Put it on Facebook if you have that, or slips of paper at the reference desk if you don’t.
  3. Watch several videos at Human Factors International. (They are short!)
  4. Sign up for HFI’s free newsletter.
  5. Visit Steve Krug’s website.
  6. Browse Studying Students by Nancy Fried Foster and Susan Gibbons.
  7. Read Designing Better Libraries latest post.
  8. Sit in your public space for five minutes and just watch and listen. How is the space being used? How is it not being used? What surprised you? What made you smile?
  9. Watch Andrew Crow’s The 5 Minute History of User Experience Talks about the evolution of the UX industry. Forecasts that multi-channel experiences will bring new experiences, and new industries into the field.
  10. Read Library Journal’s The User Experience column.



About effervescentlibrarian

UX Librarian at Rice University, Houston, Texas.
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