Information points – A collision of two worlds

Following a talk at a conference/learning exchange last week, I was asked questions about our information points so here is a little information for those who are interested.

I often talk about bringing virtual and online environments together in a way that allows them to complement each other and work together in one space. One step towards this at the Bynmor Jones Library (@HullUni_Library) has been to introduce 31 information points throughout our 7 storey building.  It’s almost most like having an extra 31 members of staff who don’t need a lunch break!

BJL information pointsWe understand that not everyone seeks help and support in the same way and approaching a member of staff, whether at a desk or roaming can feel daunting for some, no matter how friendly and approachable we are.  Part of our support strategy is to provide information points with an easy to use interface, providing access the support material our library users/customers need.  This is a step on from our original catalogue terminals.  Presenting material in this way really started to do exactly what I had hoped, it brought the online environment into the building and allowed it to work alongside our physical environment and compliment it.  Accepting that not everyone is comfortable asking questions in person we introduced a Live Chat facility on the information points.  This provides the opportunity to talk to us online, even though you are in the building, it also means that you can easily talk to a member of staff wherever you are in the building.

We continually monitor usage and make changes to the interface based on usage stats and the time of year, providing a gateway to the resources people need when they need them.  At present our interface provides access to the following:Information point interface

  • Library catalogue
  • Library account
  • Live chat
  • FAQ/LibAnswers
  • PC Finder
  • Suggest a purchase
  • Online ReadingLists
  • Hydra digital repository
  • Our lastest tweet
  • Library homepage
  • Summon
  • Opening hours
  • Group learning room bookings
  • Interactive whiteboad/table booking
  • Hull History Centre
  • Subject LibGuides
  • Catering outlets on campus
  • Intersite transfer
  • Inter-Library loans
  • Basement requests
  • Skills workshop booking
  • Referencing help
  • Send feedback
  • Timetables
  • Campus map
  • Past exam papers
  • QR code to get interface in your phone

The information points need to be locked down to a certain extent because no login required.  To do this we use a kiosk system called Kioware (http://www.kioware.com/). By using the white list options we provide access to a limited number of domains allowing access to only our services and not the wider internet.

A question I get asked a lot is, are these information points touchscreen?  The answers is no, unfortunately not, but there are two reasons for this.  The first being that we were told a screen of that size would not be robust enough for this use case and secondly, whilst the user is presented with a gateway interface that lends itself to being touch screen, at the moment much of the content accessed beyond that doesn’t.  In time we hope to change this and a longer term goal is to have  completely touch screen information points.

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