Robin Hofstetter (UIC) and John Jung (UChicago) from Library UX Chicago Book Club discussed the book: Creative Quest, by the artist Questlove. NPR described the book as "a meditation on creativity" - we're interested in it because it presents explores creativity and design from a decidedly non-library approach.
Book Club met at On Tour Brewing (1725 W Hubbard St) on Tuesday, August 14
By John Jung
The streets curve in Sheffield in a way they never curve in Chicago, and the entire time I was there I was very aware of how I go about wayfinding and how I orient myself in an unfamiliar space. I think it's a good frame of mind for a UX conference. Considering the theme of this year's UXLibs conference, inclusivity, I was also often struck by small interactions, like how I wait in line for something like a cup of coffee. Since the conference draws attendees from many countries there were lots of opportunities to compare perspectives. A lot of us were travelers.
The social aspect of the conference was more important to me than normal since I was giving a workshop and would miss the workshops given by others. Bryony Ramsden gave a workshop on coding and analyzing quantitative data. Eva Jirjahlke’s workshop was about framing problems—making sure you’re solving “the right problem”, and rapidly prototyping solutions. Carl Barrow introduced diary studies and cognitive maps as a way to understand users as they interact with physical and digital aspects of libraries. And Shelley Gullikson talked about useful friction in UX design and user research. My own workshop was on speculative and critical design.
Keynote presentations were thought-provoking, and they stuck with me: Sara Lerén, Design Director at In Use, talked about inclusivity from a cognitive perspective. Christian Lauersen from the Royal Danish Library talked about the challenges of creating an inclusive workplace and an inclusive space for patrons. Dr. Janine Bradbury, Senior Lecturer in Literature at York St. John University, talked about inclusivity and race, and Dr. Kit Heyam, a transgender awareness trainer, gave a presentation to help conference attendees build awareness around trans issues.
I can highly recommend next year’s conference, which was just announced via Twitter (@UXLibs), to any UX practitioners in libraries. For a recap of this year’s conference in the presenters' own words (which will inevitably include things that I missed) the User Experience in Libraries 2018 Yearbook will be published later this year, and it will include write-ups of all of these presentations and more. Please consider ordering a copy.
Tell us about how you integrate UX, assessment and/or design thinking in your work.
We are lucky enough to have a full-time User Experience Librarian on our team. With her help, we take my HTML design mockups and test them with patrons. The results from her testing are then assessed and used to update the mockups. After getting approval from the responsible Task Group, the mockups are handed-off to the developers to code. Since my mockups are created with html and Sass, my front-end code is easily transferred into production. This workflow allows us to test new layouts and features while they are still malleable and “inexpensive” to change. Since the mockups look like “the real thing” they also create a more realistic item to test with.
Do you have a specific project you would like to share?
We recently updated how our patrons request Interlibrary Loan/UBorrow/BorrowDirect materials. In the past when a patron wanted a book that we didn’t own, we asked them to make a choice as to which of the three services to get the item from. This meant that they had to go through each service themselves until they found the item they wanted. With the upgraded service, this choice is made on the backend. The patron just makes a request with a link from either WorldCat or our Catalog, and the materials show up in a few days. This project incorporated testing that was done years previously when we were first considering how we could improve upon our requesting services. This previous data informed the new user interface testing and was reiterated in the final report. I appreciated that we were able to dig into past testing and reuse that valuable data to inform our preliminary layouts and items to test with users.
What have you read lately?
My reading list has been eclectic lately, mainly because I am in a book club with two other coworkers. Every year, we choose a reading list to select books from and read one book a month from that list. (This year we are reading from The Lady Library curated by The Strand.) We get together over a lunch to discuss the book and decide on the next one to read. I would highly recommend starting a book club with coworkers; it is a great way to have an outside of work activity with your team and forces you to take at least one break a month to focus on non-work topics.
What tools or methods have made the most difference in your work and why?
My new favorite tool is one for project management rather than something UX specific. Since my job has me working on projects from different Library departments, I need a way to show how “expensive” a project was or that I am staying within the estimated hours. The web app Toggl has helped me easily track my hours by project and department. With this data, I can help prioritize upcoming feature requests or projects. My project manager uses this data to create a project plan for the quarter so that our team, and administration, has a general idea of the projects and features we will be releasing that quarter.
How has Library UX Chicago helped you?
Library UX Chicago has connected me with like-minded peers that I enjoy talking and seeing at each meetup. I appreciate the variety of topics covered and that different expertise levels are represented. It has also given me a platform to discuss and present projects I’ve worked on or are still working on. Additionally, as a presenter and an audience member, Library UX Chicago holds a space for me to talk about project failings or hang-ups without judgement (and sometimes I even get recommendations or solutions).