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Designing library systems for library users

Presented to UCL DIS students on 9th March 2015 and City University London LIS students on 16th March 2015.

The design of library systems has traditionally been out of the control of library staff and in the hands of a few big library software vendors. But new developments with open-source library software and the increasingly techie skill-sets of library staff make it possible to conduct user experience (UX) research in libraries and to design systems that precisely meet the needs of our users. In this presentation, Simon discusses library systems design and UX in libraries with particular reference to the project to implement an open-source library catalogue interface at SOAS Library.

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Designing library systems for library users

  1. 1. Designing library systems for library users Simon Barron @SimonXIX ‘Dynix-Main-Menu-via-Telnet.jpg’ from Wikimedia Commons, user: Skylarstickland.
  2. 2. ‘Citation needed’ from Flickr user:
  3. 3. ‘Citation needed’ from Flickr user: “…there is little to no evidence about the consideration of user needs and perspectives in the literature about the development of the early Online Public Access Catalogues (OPACS).” Christensen, A., 2013. ‘Next-generation catalogues: what do users think?’ In: Chambers, S., ed., 2013. Catalogue 2.0: the future of the library catalogue. London: Facet Publishing, p. 2. 'Day 174: Amazing Push-Button Shushing Action!' by Flickr user: Laura Taylor.
  4. 4. Simon’s remarks do not reflect the views of either SOAS or the University of London. DISCLAIMER: Though they really should. ‘exclamation mark’ by Flickr user: Leo Reynolds.
  5. 5. ‘Citation needed’ from Flickr user: User eXperience 1.0
  6. 6. "In a simple working definition, you might say that a user experience is the overall effect created by the interactions and perceptions that someone has when using a product or service..." Buley, L., 2013. The user experience team of one: a research and design survival guide. London: Rosenfield Media. ‘User experience design testing’ by Flickr user: Andy Bright.
  7. 7. "Good products eventually become somewhat invisible, sinking into the background as users achieve a kind of flow where they're actively and fluidly doing whatever the product is supposed to make possible." Buley, L., 2013. The user experience team of one: a research and design survival guide. London: Rosenfield Media. ‘Invisible Man’ from Flickr user: Marian Beck.
  8. 8. ‘running faucet’ from Flickr user: Steve Johnson Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi mee-hy cheek-sent-mə-hy-ee Csikszentmihalyi, M., 2008. Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. Harper Perennial.
  9. 9. "Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does." Kahneman, D., 2012. Thinking, fast and slow. London: Penguin. ‘running faucet’ from Flickr user: Steve Johnson
  10. 10. The VuFind Project 2.0
  11. 11. The VuFind Project 2.0 (which has a VuFind work package)
  12. 12. Courtesy of the Kuali Foundation.
  13. 13. VuFind logo designed by Ben Wiens. Provided by
  14. 14. UX: Research 3.0
  15. 15. "... [S]tudying user behavior can enhance the development and testing of library systems. Our findings suggest that people prefer easy-to-use, familiar systems with a simple interface design.” Connaway, L. S., Lanclos, D. M., and Hood, E. M., 2013. ““I always stick with the first thing that comes up on Google. . .” Where People Go for Information, What They Use, and Why” on Educause review, 6th December 2013 < where-people-go-information-what-they-use-and-why>
  16. 16. "Usability testing involves observing members of targeted user groups as they perform a series of tasks intended to address specific functions or portions of a Web site. Observers look for repeated patterns of use to determine strengths and problems with the site. This systematic process of analysis provides information that can lead to a user-centred design as well as reveals information about how patrons search." Augustine, S., and Greene, C., 2002. “Discovering How Students Search a Library Web Site: A Usability Case Study,” College & research libraries, 63 (4). ‘paper-based prototyping’ by Flickr user: Samuel Mann
  17. 17. “The final goal is to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realise his vision of the world.” Malinowski, B., 1922. Argonauts of the Western Pacific: An account of native enterprise and adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul., p. 25.000
  18. 18. Ethnographic techniques Credit to: Priestner, A., 2014. Ethnography for impact, presented at the SCONUL Winter Conference on 21st November 2014. exploring-user-experience-in-libraries Behavioural mapping Cognitive mapping Diary studies Usability studies Focus groups Affinity diagramming Card sorting Directed storytelling Touchstone tours Love-break-up-letter Graffiti walls Personas ‘Research’ by Flickr user: Neil Conway.
  19. 19. UX: Design 4.0
  20. 20. “…if you can’t open it, you don’t own it.” Doctorow, C., 2010. ‘Why I won't buy an iPad (and think you shouldn't, either).’ Boing Boing, 2 April 2010. Available at think-yo.html. ‘Fixing the big apple’ by Flickr user: kylethale.
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  23. 23. End bits 5.0
  24. 24. Further reading: Buley, L., 2013. The user experience team of one: a research and design survival guide. London: Rosenfield Media. #UKANTHROLIB Weave: Journal of Library User Experience @WeaveUX Krug, S., 2009. Rocket surgery made easy: the do-it-yourself guide to finding and fixing usability problems. New Riders. Norman, D. A., 2013. The design of everyday things. Cambridge: MIT Press. ‘Paper Sheets 3’ from Flickr user: Dan Taylr
  25. 25. A non-exhaustive list of people who know more than me about this stuff: Donna Lanclos: @donnalanclos Andy Priestner: @PriestLib Meg Westbury: @MegWestbury Georgina Cronin: @senorcthulhu Matthew Reidsma: @mreidsma ‘MST3K window sticker’ from Flickr user: Adam Norwood