By John Jung
UXLibs is “an established international conference which explores user experience research and design thinking techniques” in libraries. The theme of UXLibs IV is Inclusive UX—this year’s conference will take place in Sheffield on June 6 and 7.
I recommend the conference as a way to get up to speed with UX research methods and as a way to broaden your network: last year UXLibs III brought together delegates from 19 countries. Here are just a few highlights from last year’s conference.
In the opening address, conference organizer Andy Priestner relayed several questions he hears libraries asking: “are UX techniques being applied more in libraries?” and “is design thinking being properly embedded in libraries?” Like kids on a long car trip, people are essentially asking, “are we there yet?” How mature is user experience as a skillset in libraries?
Although libraries are making great strides, there is still a lot of room for growth. Andy shared several UX maturity models which are useful as a way to think about the relative maturity of UX practices in different organizations and as a way to think about how to improve.
Matthew Reidsma, Web Services Librarian at Grand Valley State University, talked about ethics and values in user experience work. Starting from examples of architecture that embody the values of those who commissioned it, he discussed analytics, personas, and algorithms and how in each of these domains libraries have opportunities to work in ways that either reinforce or challenge their ethical commitments.
Meredith Evans, director of the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum, talked about social responsibility and community archiving. Working from experiences with three different projects—The UNC LGBTQ Collection, Documenting Ferguson, and Documenting the Now—she explored how archives can document the present moment in an ethical way. She raised questions like, if an archive includes tweets from the general public about a significant current event, how should it consider the privacy of those who made the posts?
For more about these projects and others, check out the book User Experience in Libraries Yearbook 2017: Stories, Techniques, Insights.