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.
By Devin Savage
As the steering group talked about inaugural launch of our newsletter, we really wanted to have a dedicated space for our community to participate and contribute ideas and concepts to our ongoing conversation.
For example, a recent exchange on the ARL-ASSESS email list, "Benchmarking Seat Counts," I found extremely interesting and relevant to many of the concepts we have discussed here at Library UX Chicago. I was reminded my previous stock answer about my interest in this group, which was that I wanted to look at "the intersections of assessment, design thinking, and user experience in libraries." I would suggest this threaded discussion provides not only the evaluative inquiry the title implies, but a wide variety of tools, literature, and practices that should inform not only library assessment, but library UX and design strategies as well. I personally plan to draw upon some of these sources as we talk with campus partners about our student spaces and 24/5 service.
For our future issues, we eagerly invite you all to contribute and help us think about the challenges and opportunities facing us. Please consider submitting an article or idea that caught your eye, with a couple of sentences about why you found it intriguing and/or relevant!
Tell us about how you integrate UX, assessment and/or design thinking in your work.
Due to the nature of my position, I think about design thinking within the context of instructional design. I try to focus on how I create an engaging, meaningful activity that achieves set learning goals and resonates with students beyond the duration of the class. The book Understanding by Design by Wiggins and McTighe was helpful to me in becoming more intentional about how I design a learning experience, particularly the idea of backward design.
Do you have a specific project you would like to share?
It wasn’t a major project, but I recently redesigned a scavenger hunt activity for a first-year class in an attempt to make it more student-centered (the old activity had become, or truthfully always was pretty staid). The class was based on the idea of Placemaking (you can learn more about the idea at http://www.placemakingchicago.com/). I had students explore the physical and virtual spaces of the library in small groups and devise their own “top ten” lists of how the space was useful, as well as how it might fall short in meeting their needs as community members. They then posted their lists on Padlet. It was interesting to see that students collectively discovered most of what I would’ve told them in a more controlled activity, and they provided useful feedback/assessment data on how website and the library space failed to meet their needs in certain respects.
What have you read lately?
I’m reading a few instruction books this summer in preparation for our summer instruction discussions and planning: Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook 1&2 and the 6-part series Framing Information Literacy: Teaching Grounded in Theory, Pedagogy, and Practice, which devotes a volume to each frame of the ACRL Framework. Both are published by ACRL. I’m also currently reading The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy and Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History, by Tori Telfer, a Chicago author.
How has Library UX Chicago helped you?
As a coordinator of teaching and learning services, I facilitate planning of instruction within my department and participate in planning library wide conversations about various teaching-related topics. I’ve
Have you learned a new skill lately?
I’m learning how to build tutorials using Captivate. I’m starting by watching a bunch of tutorials on Lynda.com.
What tools or methods have made the most difference in your work and why?
Methods: When working with librarians, I like brainstorming using lots of post-its that can be categorized and rearranged. It’s a good way to include lots of voices and ideas. When working with students, I enjoy mind-mapping as a method for brainstorming keywords, breaking down topics, and making associations between ideas.
Tools: Google Docs is pretty great. Collaborating is very seamless, and I like how the spreadsheets app is more visually appealing than excel as long as you’re using it for something basic. I also love how easy it is to create and embed slides, documents and forms in a lib-guide for instructional purposes. I often use Google forms to collect some information from graduate students before an instruction session.
Despite collecting a tremendous amount of data on activities related to their collections, services, and spaces, libraries often struggle to use the right data to tell the right stories to the right stakeholders. This can be particularly challenging when there is a mismatch between what external stakeholders value (for example, the number of volumes held) doesn't align with what the library understands to be meaningful (for example, the number of titles held).
Library UX Chicago was delighted to offer a workshop exploring effective storytelling with data. Dr. Kate McDowell was our speaker; her talk was paired with discussion and activities designed to introduce the fundamentals of storytelling thinking in the context of library data.
Attendees learned strategies for applying principles of storytelling to the workplace, and explored ways that these principles can be used to express the value of libraries to internal and external stakeholders. They explored successful story structures for data stories, and worked with sample or real library data to find stories that they could develop at their institutions. Finally, attendees will learned how to effectively learn and remember their stories.
This event took place on Friday, May 4 from 9am-noon at the University of Chicago Library.
Library UX Chicago acknowledges the generous support of the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) continuing education program in making this event possible.
ABOUT OUR SPEAKER
Dr. Kate McDowell is an associate professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign, where her courses include youth services librarianship, history of readers, and storytelling. Her areas of research focus include storytelling practices and applications in higher education, non-profits, business, and public service, and she has taught storytelling in a number of contexts for a decade.