Being literate used to be about knowing how to read. In the 21st century it also means knowing how to negotiate through the torrent of information coming at you from all directions. Information Fatigue…
The further we move into R. David Lankes’s “New Librarianship Master Class”—a massive open online course (MOOC) under the auspices of the University of Syracuse School of Information Studies— and his book The Atlas of New Librarianship, the more obvious the overlap between librarianship and the entire field of training-teaching-learning becomes—which makes me wonder why I don’t see more interactions and sustainable collaborations between colleagues in the American Library Association (ALA) and the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) and others involved in the professions those two associations represent....
There’s a reason that the Howard County Library System, MD (HCLS) is the Gale/LJ 2013 Library of the Year—an incredible focus on user experience and staff development that enables each worker to invest in the success of the library. It’s a case study for academic librarians who want to take things to the next level of service and community engagement.
Academic librarians know well that we also build our knowledge base by studying the successes and failures of other institutions. Call it a study of best practices, if you will. From it, we improve the user experience in our own libraries.
What academic librarians should recognize about HCLS and other public libraries is what we actually have in common—and can learn from each other.
Later this year an all-digital library will open in Bexar County, Texas. It will have 100 e-readers available for lending and an e-book collection of over 10,000 titles. Staff will also teach basic computer skills.
The arguments against an all-digital library are many: "Many of the libraries that are currently providing e-books to their communities have to purchase them on a subscription basis--one bad fiscal year and their collection is gone."
In other words, there's no agreed-upon model for providing e-books to libraries. What arrangements that exist are tentative at best. Aside from such practicalities, even many so-called "digital natives" may not welcome the future embodied by BiblioTech. A recent Pew survey of Americans under age 30 found that they are still as likely as older Americans to read paper books and that they're more likely than older Americans to spend time in the library, as opposed to going just to get books and DVDs and leave. Younger Americans identified the library as a place to read, to study and spend time with friends. Think about it: does anyone really hang out in their local Apple store?
Librarianship has lost its focus—our professional concern for people has been eclipsed by a preoccupation with collections and technology. This is understandable. Historically, libraries have been centered on bringing the world to our members through our collections. This problem of access was important to help solve, meeting a vital societal need. Likewise, our focus on information technologies and the web is natural, too. Throughout the years, these tools have presented some outstanding challenges, though generally they have aided tremendously in our mission to expand access to accumulated cultural knowledge and output. But our fixation on collections and technology is no longer serving us—nor our members.
The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project has produced a series of reports presenting new research on library services, trends in reading habits and patron needs in the digital age. This three-year research program is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and informed by an advisory group, focus groups and surveys of library users, non-users, and librarians. The Pew research is rich in data that librarians can use to inform internal planning and support advocacy efforts. The Pew data is nationally representative, however many libraries are seeing examples of how the Pew findings reflect changes and trends in their own libraries. The foundation has developed the following advocacy toolkits (one kit for each report) that include materials librarians can customize and use in their own communities. The tools will help librarians effectively talk about the Pew data to stakeholders and share information about library services. For guidelines and best practices on how to use these tools, please reference the Resource Box below.
For centuries, the defining role of the library has been as a repository of books.
Now, in the 21st century, the library faces perhaps its most momentous challenge.
Library leaders are adapting to a paradigm shift by reimagining the library as an engaged community center. The role of librarians is being re-branded to reflect their expertise as content curators and trusted navigators in an ever-expanding ocean of information — in whatever format it may exist.
Libraries are abuzz with services that go beyond traditional fare to offer more active programming for patrons, including an after-school program to aid students with homework. In the summer, more meeting rooms for patrons to use for business appointments, more computer labs where patrons learn tech skills, or enroll in massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and other services.
All that said, we appreciate that Fellows do not want to be unnecessarily disrupted whilst using the library and we hope that our Fellows are considerate and respectful of other Fellows using the shared space.
Linda M's insight:
'Silence may be golden' but being 'seen and not heard' belongs in the past. If libraries are to remain relevant and viable then we must support the needs of our clients, and in today's world, that means a place for collaboration, a place to engage with others and a place that supports today's learning habits.
This project aimed to inform design strategies for smart space technology to enhance libraries as environments for coworking and informal social learning. The focus was on understanding user motivations, behaviour, and activities in the library when there is no programmed agenda.
User experience is an important tool for libraries to employ against a number of competitors like bookstores and at-home Internet access. Libraries have taken this as an opportunity to provide services that are not available elsewhere. The strategy to focus on users and their needs has earned libraries strong support not only from the public but also from the academic community of users in higher education, most especially.
This article offers three main tips for fostering user experience or UX in a library environment. As with product and service design scenarios, UX in libraries is about listening to your community, meeting their needs, and making their desires come true before they even know what they want. Implementing front-line staff suggestions allows staff to take ownership of a patron’s experience and provide interactions that users cannot have elsewhere.
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