UX – Moving (or not) into the prototype stage

I’ve written about my journey into UX and I’ve spoken about it at a number of conferences. I am a huge advocate of UX research and its application in academic libraries. In my opinion it is not a choice, it’s a necessity. It shouldn’t be a ‘nice to have, if we have the resource’ but a ‘must have and prioritise the resource’.   It’s clear that the #UXLibs community have undertaken a cross section of UX research activities and we have gained and shared some useful insights into how our library users behave.  At the Brynmor Jones Library, we have certainly made a number of very positive service improvements based on the insights we have gained.

However, I’m probably not alone in feeling a little disappointed with the imbedding of UX in the library at which I work. Why is this and why isn’t it fully embedded in everything we do?   Maybe it’s because communication around UX and the reasons for the changes we have made haven’t been transparent or good enough.  Maybe staff haven’t seen the direct value of the research we’ve undertaken or made the connection between service improvements and our research.  Maybe some people find it difficult to work with fuzzy data, in the grey and are unnerved by it.  Maybe some still think it’s a fad.

While there is probably a multitude of reasons, I wonder if one of the main issues is that we often find it difficult to move into the prototype stage of the design process. Many of the improvements we have made at the BJL have bypassed this stage. I wonder if because of this,  library staff don’t see enough happening as a result of UX research on a day to day or week to week basis, so they disengage with the process. In their perception, it’s initially a lot of work, with little visible outcome.

Collecting and analysing the data is the easy part, even reporting on insights and making recommendations for change is easy. But when it comes to actually making those changes happen, we often hit a wall.  For us at the BJL, this seems even more apparent with experimental prototype changes, the sort of changes that people can see and provide feedback on, the sort of changes that can go wrong or fail.  Do we not feel empowered to prototype?  Do we not feel we would be supported through failure? Are we just scared to fail or scared of what our colleagues will say when we do?

Perhaps then, this is a cultural issue. If so, how do we address that? How do we change the perceptions and attitudes of library staff and help them to embrace change, provide support through failure and celebrate the successes when they happen.  Maybe this culture needs to be in place to allow us to move into the prototype stage.

Once we feel supported by our colleagues, empowered to prototype, and brave enough to fail, we’ll make that leap. Perhaps this isn’t about senior managers providing that support, it’s about everyone.  Maybe when this happens, UX will truly be embedded in our libraries.

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UXLibs III – UX Your Desk!

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Like Batman, you don’t need super powers to do a great job,  and that goes for UX work too. But you do need four things:

  • Commitment
  • Faith (Don’t be scared)
  • Time and resource
  • A plan (including time and resource)

LikeLegoLike Lego, small bricks/insights/changes add up to big results and great experiences!

THE END!

And that was where my talk last year at UXLibs II ended.  I want to continue from there and talk about the impact that UX has had at the Brynmor Jones Library since that time.  Firstly, was all that work,  effort, stress, worry and resource really worth it?  The answer to that question is yes, a big fat yellow YES! Stamp right there on the screen.  Yes, it was certainly worth it.  I want to run through a few changes which were a direct result of UX research through 2016.

Last year I stood here and said that our café didn’t really work,  that the queues were too long and that people would rather go across campus at busy times to grab a coffee, then bring it back to the library. Not a great experience really.  So as a result, we worked with our facilities directorate to install a coffee cart on our ground floor to cater for the ‘grab and go’ market.  This has been really well received by students and also library staff who can now quickly grab a good cup of coffee and be back in their office space within a few minutes.

Last year I stood here and said that we found our directional signage to be inadequate, in fact we didn’t really have any!  As a prototype we installed pop-up directional banners, which were very successful and well received.  Following this, we undertook a complete signage review and installed new permanent signs in late 2016.  These have had a very positive impact with regard to people navigating the library building.

I said we found that people wanted to eat and drink through the full building,  in fact I cupsthink we really just validated what we already knew, but validation is important.   I also highlighted that one of the main reasons for this is that we are open 24/7 and people spend long periods of time in the building and need food and drink during those periods.  As a result we updated our food and drinks policy and whilst we still don’t allow food, we do now allow hot drinks in sealed cups.  This has been very much appreciated.

We have made other changes such as installing new printers, adding phone charging stations and refocusing digital signage, I am more than happy to speak to anyone about all of our UX related changes over the next two days and beyond.

I want to talk about the bigger or wider impact of UX work at Hull and for me and our senior management team I think this has been the realisation that UX should be included as an element in everything we do, that UX isn’t just about the students put perhaps about library staff too.  Seeing some very positive service changes as a direct result of UX research, certainly proved its value.

Let me tell you a story, I started hearing people say things like “ I need and ipad!”  or “Mike has an ipad so I should have one too”,  and these things were getting bought,  it wasn’t just ipads it was other devices too.   There were times when I just wanted to hold my head in my hands and scream inside! Because I really wasn’t sure that these devices were the right ones for the jobs they were supposed to do.  This was actually validated on a number of occasions.

But this isn’t just about technology, it’s about space too.  I started hearing comments like “This office it too noisy”,  “I have nowhere to make a private phone call”,  “need a more creative space!”.   The Brynmor Jones Library was redeveloped, with completion being three years ago.  Staff space however, was planned in 2011.  Since then, the building was actually developed, we went through a significant organisational change program which resulted in new teams and new business processes.  So no wonder people are saying these thing.  We are working in an environment that doesn’t support our needs!

So thinking about these two areas and the success we had with UX already, I suggested to our Senior Managers that we run a UX project to take a holistic view of space and technology for library staff.  I said I would produce a space profile and a technology profile for every role,  and then link that with a comprehensive technology audit so we really understood what equipment we had at our disposal.  Our SMT liked the idea and give me three months to do it!

I established a project team of four people and used the following UX techniques to gather data from 20 members of staff covering all roles and where appropriate,  two staff from each role.

  • Questionnaire (bad?)
  • Contextual Interviews
  • Shadowing & observations
  • Cognitive maps (and interviews)
  • Love & break up letters

Questionnaire!  Yes, I know.  I always say that I’m very proud of the fact that I haven’t used questionnaires as a data gathering tool at the Brynmor Jones library for over two years.  I stand by that comment.  I used a questionnaire in this instance for two reasons.  Firstly,  Library staff love questionnaires! They make them feel comfortable, they are tangible and they understand them.  I used it as an anchor point and a way of getting them on board with the project.  I also use it as a tool to get people thinking about the way they work currently and how they might want to work before moving onto some of the other techniques.  I will be completely honest in saying that we probably only used 5-10% of the survey data,  and much of that was annotations that staff has added.  So, questionnaires are still bad, but in this case worked for us.

I’m not going to go through the techniques, many of you already understand them, some you will learn about this week and if you want any further information please just grab me for a chat.

The project of course, was not without its obstacles.  Many of these were around peopleboat and perceptions.  There was a perception from some that this was just about my team,  that we wanted new kit,  that we wanted an iPad! Of course, completely untrue.  There were also people who just didn’t want to be involved, they felt uncomfortable with the techniques, they didn’t want to do a cognitive map, they didn’t work that way.  They didn’t see the value.  One of our library assistants who was on the project team,  spent a lot of time just talking to people and explaining to them that this really wasn’t about my team and that it was about everyone and ensuring that we are able to provide everyone with the space and technology they need in the future.  She did a great job and managed to bring a number of people on board that otherwise would not have engaged in the project.

There were also obstacles for the project team. The first was to ensure that we really weren’t just ‘in it for ourselves’.  Of course our data needed to be included in the research, that was critical but we had to ensure it held no more weight than any other data and we needed to take ourselves to a place where we were could take an overview.  This was more difficult for some of the team than others.

Data overload was a big issue for me personally,  we gathered a lot of data! I felt like I was drowning in data.  The fear of failure that I spoke about last year certainly came back.  What if this didn’t work? But I thought back to what I said at the beginning of this talk,  Have faith and don’t be scared,  Trust in the process, the techniques and let the data tell the stories.

So,  what did we find out?  We’ll look at spaces first.

From the research we undertook we identified a requirements for eight working environments.  This surprised me as I was thinking maybe four:

  1. Open plan traditional office space working with colleagues in similar roles. This should be a semi-formal environment which provides a sense of team belonging and allows conversations based on day to day activity. It is important that staff members have their own work station within this environment. Space is also required to cater for visiting members of staff from HHC and the Customer Services Team who require a computer to undertake a number of tasks away from the frontline desks.
  2. Collaborative office space that can be used by anyone in the library to work on projects, get away from core office space and collaborate on work in an office environment without affecting others. This office would contain hot-desk PCs and desks for use with lap-tops
  3. A quiet /silent solo working environment with no distractions, allowing for concentration which isn’t possible in a busy open plan office. This space can also be used to attend webinars as most don’t require speaking.
  4. Flexible creative work space, with hot desk PCs, whiteboards, post-its and other creative material. The furniture should be configurable to enable experimental working environments, giving all staff the opportunity to try different ways of working. This area would allow anyone to become involved in project or team activity in an ad-hoc and organic way. The room should contain a phone and a PC connected to a large wall mounted monitor with the ability to attach other devices to the display.  An environment of a similar specification and principle is detailed in the case study at C4DI
  5. Formal meeting spaces which are technology enabled with skype conferencing facilities and the option to connect multiple devices to a wall mounted display.
  6. Staff relaxation space to take time out, have a break or lunch. Interestingly this wasn’t seen or included as a work space or detailed as a requirement for many.  However, for those who did include it, it was key to their working day and very much valued.
  7. 1-1 appointment area for use with staff and students. It isn’t essential that this space is completely private but it should allow users of the service to feel comfortable and relaxed, without disturbances. The area needs to be easily accessible, ideally on the ground floor of the library and be equipped with a University networked PC or laptop.
  8. Private space with access to a computer and a phone. This area is for visual privacy and confidential phone calls.

We also looked at why someone might choose the space in which they would want to work:

  1. The intensity of the work they are undertaking
  2. The type of work they are undertaking
  3. The equipment they require
  4. The privacy required to undertake their work
  5. The number of colleagues involved in their work activity
  6. Their general mood at the time

So onto technology results,  what did we find out about technology.  I will admit that I found technology very difficult. If felt very personal, especially since we were trying not to take into account personal preferences and looking purely at the role, not at the individual (at this point).

We identified seven technology profiles which you can see on the screen.  Every role was assigned to one of these profiles. This assignment is based on the equipment that someone new coming into a role would need,  not based on what staff have now.  We aren’t about to start taking equipment off anyone and we aren’t guaranteeing that new equipment will be bought.  This is about where we might want to be in the future.

Profile Desk-top PC Lap-top PC /Docking station Hot-desk PC WiFi Tablet SIM Tablet Hybrid table or

notebook

Pool mobile device
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2
3
4
5
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7

The technology audit that we undertook included personal devices that staff are using at work.  It certainly surprised me just how widespread this is and how role or seniority play little or no part in it.  We have a significant amount of staff bringing and using their own smart phones, tablets and laptops.  This is fine, and could be seen as being very positive.  However, We need to be mindful that equipment such as high spec smart phones and tablet PCs can change the job experience of staff members and in some cases increase productivity and job satisfaction.

This was particularly evident in Library Assistant roles where we saw that working practices were significantly different from one staff member to another, depending on the personal equipment they used.  Out of four library assistants included in the study, it was clear that access to a smart phone, increased productivity for two members of staff.  We should consider the impact of this on staff who are unable to provide their own devices and ensure they are not disadvantaged.  We also need to ensure that we provide appropriate digital literacy training so that staff can see the benefits of using mobile equipment as part of their role should they wish to do so.

Culture!  I want to highlight that any development of working spaces is intrinsically linked to culture.  We can provide the best staff spaces but if we don’t have a culture that enables and encourages all staff to work differently and use these spaces, they will fail.  This is something that we will be working on over the coming months. Certainly don’t underestimate culture.

And lastly I want to finish off with a statement “This is UX not CX!”.  UX is not just about our customers, library staff,  you guys here are all library users and use the library as much if not more that everyone else coming into the building.  If we can apply the same techniques to understand our behaviours and working styles that we use with students and collect and analyse that data alongside all the other data,  we are in a very powerful position to develop really great user centred services.

UXCX

The Summer of 1995

Not at all related to work this one, and somewhat a sequel to my post  Being you, being proud.

I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?  (Chris Chambers – Stand By Me)

I am lucky enough to be able to say that I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was eighteen. The main reason being that they hadn’t changed from when I was twelve, even after relocating east at the age of fourteen.

The summer of 95 lasted a lifetime. It was hot and sunny, we were never bored, we were rich, I had a sports car and the beer flowed constantly. Music was the best it had ever been, Cast, Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene, The Stone Roses, RunRig, The Presidents of the USA. This music rang in our ears all summer long.   Yes, that summer will go down in the history books as the best summer ever.  That summer we did everything. No boundaries, no rules, just freedom.

There were a good few of us, but mainly three (they know who they are), and then sometimes only two. It’s hard to take an eleven year old out drinking no matter how much they’d like to go. He did everything else though, and we didn’t mind having him along for the ride.  I wonder now what my eleven year old son would feel like hanging out with a sixteen and eighteen year old, I don’t think I’d even let him. But that’s different, we were all brothers, well, not me, but it always felt like that.

We spent our days in the fields and on the hills of the Yorkshire Dales, swimming in the rivers and sliding down the water falls, we drove for miles, we listened to loud indie music. The nights were spent in two types of places, the many local pubs, drinking the best beer we’d ever tasted or laying on our backs in fields watching shooting stars cross the endless galaxy above us. We drank ice cold bottles of lager until the early hours in the warm humid air of the summer, putting the world to rights, thinking things would never change. This was our time, the time of our lives, the time when we weren’t children, but hadn’t grown up, an in-between time, a kind of limbo where everything was here and now, where nothing really mattered but at the same time everything did.  We were on the edge, or at least I was,  balancing, looking, waiting.

It had to end, summers always do. I’m not sure I realised just what was ending when I left, maybe I did but didn’t want to know, maybe I only realised just now. Our friendships would remain, though they would become more distant over time. Certainly for me, the last remnants of my childhood were left in that field gazing at the starlit sky, that last shooting star in late August signified where it would remain forever. Perhaps for the others there were a couple of years left, although you are always as young as the oldest in your group. It wasn’t a bad thing, at least not for me, It went out on a high, we went out on a high.

We moved on, we have the memories.  Are those memories real? Is that how it really was? I don’t know and I don’t care.  I do know that I wasn’t rich in real terms, I’m not sure the beer flowed constantly and I doubt it was the best I’ve ever tasted. I doesn’t matter, but the memories do. Yes, the summer of 95, that will go down in the history books as the best summer ever. The summer that I made the leap, I left the edge, I stopped balancing and continued on my journey. But, I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was eighteen, Jesus, does anyone.

Gathering Feedback

During the run up to Christmas and the end of Semester 1, we ran two experiments using our large touchscreen to gather user feedback on the ground floor. The two experiments helped us determine whether these methods would be useful going forward through the rest of the year. The resounding answer to that question is yes!

Tell us one thing you LIKE and one thing you DISLIKE about this library

likesidlike

We were really surprised just how quickly the responses started to come in after this was put onto the screen. There were number of key themes, some of which we were aware of but it’s good to have them validated.

  • The fact that we are open 24/7 is very much appreciated
  • People don’t like the lifts, but don’t like using the stairs
  • Our staff are very friendly and helpful
  • There is too much noise in the library and a lack of silent study space
  • The tower floors are too cold

As with the results from other user research, we will be looking at ways to address issues over the coming months.

How was your visit to the library today? (Between 9th and 16th December) howabout

So how did people feel?

  • Our happiest day was December 12
  • Our saddest day was December 15

 

 

snowmen

The downside to this method is that it can be hard to understand what makes our library users feel the way they do, but it is useful to

look at the figures alongside events and issues that we know about. It is also useful as a general temperature check.

Internet Librarian International 2016 Enhancing Student Engagement

seblog
Student Engagement, it’s thing. It’s a thing that most academic libraries know is important and it’s a thing they know they should be doing something about. One of the main problems is that a lot of them don’t really understand what student engagement means, or they don’t understand what it means for them in the context of their institution. This was certainly the case for the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull.

I came out of a two and a half year secondment managing frontline services during the redevelopment of the library building (never again). Inevitably, along with departmental priorities the post I left had changed during that time. I was given the new title of Student Engagement Manager, there was only me. I was told to go and do student engagement. Great! It was right up my street, but like everyone else, I wasn’t sure what that meant.

Student Engagement can be very broad, let’s face it, we are all there to deliver services that we hope students will engage with so it could be anything. It could be anything from attending staff/student committees and working with the Students Union to managing and developing the website and digital signage in the library building.   What happened was that I ended up with a lot to do, it was very varied but soon started to overflow, I was unable to do anything in detail and wasn’t able to put a focus on anything. I fed this back to the senior management team who kept making statements like ‘The web site is mission critical’ to which I always replied, yes it is, but we need commit resource in that area if we are serious about it.

We were lucky enough to go through a complete departmental restructure, in which the senior management team acknowledged two things. First that they wanted to commit more resource to student engagement so my one man team became three. @mike_ewen our Online Coordinator  and @johnasteph12 our Digital Library Services Officer. They also acknowledged that they weren’t clear on what student engagement meant for us and the team were to build on and explore it’s meaning in the context of our library. At some point in the future, the team would be given a clear remit by the SMT. This didn’t sit well with me, I wanted my team to work with the department and other areas of the University to define our role and inform the SMT. Over the course of six months, we produced a team vision and remit which was sent to SMT to be singed off. This did two things, it allowed us to be clear on our responsibilities and allowed others in the department to be clear on why were we there and how we could help them achieve their goals. We were no longer the three guys who just did stuff.

I want to take you through the remit briefly here today.

Strategic lead and engagement activity (My lead area) – This one was easy, it came directly out of my job description. One thing I made very clear from the start though, was that whist I could provide a lead and help to focus student engagement activity, student engagement wasn’t my responsibility. Student engagement is the joint responsibility of every team in the library. Working with team leaders and manages, I have developed a rolling student engagement plan, where teams take ownership and have responsibility to deliver on a number of elements within that plan.

Understanding Behaviour (My lead area) – Ethnography, User centred design, or UX as the academic library world has adopted. This is about delving deeper, using qualitative data to really understanding how our users interact with our services, how our services impact them and how they impact our services. The importance of this work has been brought to the forefront by people like @andytraining ,@matjborg, @ned_potter, @donnalanclos, @aasher, @librarygirlknit, @karinenrose, @shelley_gee, @weelibrarian, @pennyb, @preater, @Ingyplingy, and the whole @UXLibs community.

Online presence (Mike’s lead area) – We provide management and governance across all of our online platforms. This includes the core library website, library content in the VLE, Social Media and front end interfaces to our systems like the library catalogue. Having a real focus in this area has made a tremendous difference.

Library systems (John’s lead area) –  This is perhaps a controversial one because there are arguments for systems being structurally elsewhere. However, all of our systems are there to ultimately engage students in some way. The UX work that we undertake both digitally and physically has particular relevance to our systems. Having John closely involved in all of our student engagement activity is invaluable on many levels.

Digital literacy and technical support for library staff (Joint responsibility) – Libraries are changing, they have changed dramatically over the years. If we can provide digital literacy and technical support to our staff to support them though these changes they are able to help and relate to our library users more effectively. This has been particularly relevant in respect to our frontline staff who have seen a large increase in technology use in the building.

Marketing and Media (My lead area) – We provide advice to all library teams in relation to digital media, print design and production. We work in three ways, often we will just produce the material, but we also support others to produce the material themselves, or in some cases we outsource the production. My team will make the decision as to which is most appropriate in a given situation. We also work alongside the University Marketing department to ensure we compliment material being produced centrally.

So what have we achieved over the past year?

Working alongside both the Customer Services and Skills Team we have implemented a student volunteer programme. This has been extremely successful, with around 60 volunteers last year gaining valuable experience of working alongside our frontline team and also working with our skills team to deliver workshops. Further information can be found on our website .

We have just started recruitment for this academic year with 75 registered students.

We have developed a programme of UX research activity which after training frontline staffCatogories started to embed this in our service improvement processes. Last year we undertook Student journey mapping, Cognitive mapping, student interview and love/break up letters which provided us with some valuable insights into user behaviour allowing us to make service developments based that behaviour. I presented our experiences at the UXLibs conference in June 2016.  We have a programme of activity planned for the coming which we hope will provide further valuable insights.

In the BJL we have 13 digital signs and a media wall. We have developed a digital signage strategy for the building, which in short is, less is more. We were inundated with other areas of the University asking to get slides on our screens. Of course we could display then, but in all honesty who would actually see them if they were just part of a slide show? Our digital signage content is informed by the UX work we undertake, using specific screens for a specific purposes allowing us to target audiences and keeping slide shows to a minimum ensuring content is not hidden.

We are trying to develop more interactive content for our media wall bringing real time data from our systems into the physical environment. An example of this is a tree that grows based on the people going through our entry gates. We are planning more work in this area over the coming year.

meblogWe have built our library in MineCraft, or rather worked with people to get it built. You can connect to the server uoh.nitrous.it and walk freely around all seven floors of the building.   This is an experiment and something a little different aimed initially at induction but with many other possibilities. This is the first stage, we would like to add more interactivity, giving users the opportunity to interact with library staff and with our services in the digital world, just as they would in the physical world. Too access the MineCraft library, you need to be running MineCraft on a PC, not a console or mobile device. In the future I would like the use this digital version of the library to add another layer to our UX work, I am considering options for the best way to use it.

instblogWe have been able to give a much sharper focus to social media and developing our digital voice. Our primary platform focuses are twitter, facebook and Instagram. Twitter is by far our most successful channel with very little engagement on facebook.   Mike is leading a University community group to help all department work together and learn from each other which has been very positive up to now.

We have migrated the skills content from our website into the University VLE. This is to enable academics to use the content in their courses alongside course content where it is most valuable. This was done in time for the start of this academic year and feedback has been positive so far. We will continue working on this content with other areas of the university over the coming year.

We have upgraded our LMS from Millennium to Sierra which has enabled us to explore some of the new APIs and functionally available. We have a focus over the coming year to embed library content in other systems, particularly the university mobile app, delivering library content at the point of need to our users.

So where to next? We want to collaborate further with other areas of our institution, ensuring we are all working together the same goals and not duplicating work. We want to build relationships with other institutions working together on joint projects where appropriate. We want to look at how we measure the impact of the work we are undertaking. This is something that I do find difficult, if not impossible. If anyone can wave a magic wand and tell me how to do that, please come of find me later!

Being you, being proud

When I was ten I was a quiet little lad. Never the one to lead, always standing back to let the others do that. I didn’t put my hand up, I didn’t go on the foreign exchange, that wasn’t for me, I didn’t take part in the high school play, even though I liked the idea of it. I liked some things others didn’t and what if I looked stupid or people laughed at me. No, I wasn’t that confident, I was always worried about what others would think. I wanted to fit in, to be like everyone else. I wanted to be part of the crowd, and I very much succeeded, I took the back seat, I was just there, invisible to most, under the radar,  just a face in the crowd. Never being laughed at, not being bullied, and never making a fool of myself. Always just there, there but invisible, never proud of who I was, never comfortable with me. Me, quiet, shy, but with an internal voice wanting to cry out.

That changed, it changed in a single moment, a spark of an opportunity, a moment of bravery. I was waiting in the foyer of the IT training centre I was about to start at. I sat with sweaty hands and the cold/warm tingle of nervousness. “Hi, I’m Carl, are you on the same training course of me?” I did it! I made the first move, I wasn’t the quiet one, I didn’t just sit back….and I like it. I only spent six weeks at that training centre before I got a work placement. I was the first to get one. But from that first moment, I was the loud one, the leader, the one who stood up in fount of everyone and talked, the one who everyone looked towards. The confident one, the one everyone wanted to be with, never afraid make a fool out myself and the leader of the crowd. I’d changed, I’d become who I wanted to be, that quite, shy little boy was gone and he was gone for good, left in the past with the other nobodies, the other invisibles, the ones who didn’t succeed.

This only continued, I became part of a huge friendship group, I was part of the in-crowd, I was never without someone, something to do, or some place to go. I met friends around the country, had crazy times. I had everything, I couldn’t be happier, couldn’t be more confident.

It wasn’t for a good few years after progressing at work, getting married and having children that I started to reflect. Something started to feel strange. That presentation at work needed preparation, being cool and just winging it didn’t work. On my own at that big conference with new people made me feel nervous, but that wasn’t me. I was an extravert, confident, part of the in-crowd, the leader. Why were these feelings coming back?

I looked towards my son, now ten. Today he graduated from primary school and I couldn’t be more proud. He is everything I was at that age, but at the same time everything I wanted to be, all at once. He likes some things others don’t, he’s a little quirky, he isn’t loud, he isn’t really part of the in-crowd, but he’s proud of it, so very proud, so very proud to be him. He exudes confidence, a confidence that I never had, he was a lead in the school play, he stood on a stage and read a poem he’d written, he plays his clarinet in a band, he’s a great swimmer, he speaks up and asked questions at school, he is on the radar. But on the radar for being him, not for being the norm. Most importantly he is comfortable and happy with himself. He doesn’t need to pretend, he doesn’t need to fit in, and he doesn’t want to. But because of that,  he does.

I’m almost 40 now, and sure that loudness is still there sometimes, that’s become part of me, I’m comfortable with that, it gets me through the nervousness, it helps me lead, its gets me up in front of people. But I’ve come to understand that there’s room for that little boy, he’s who I am too. You don’t need to be loud to be confident and I take energy from the nervousness, it makes me feel alive. There are times when I’m quite, times when I let others take the lead, times when going under the radar feels right. But now I’m comfortable with that, almost comfortable with who I am, almost comfortable with the silence. Almost comfortable being me.

Don’t forget who you were, be happy with who you are, and take inspiration from those you aspire to be.

Good luck in high school Ethan!

Library Staff Development – Why UX?

I delivered a short UX session to all library staff as part of our staff development fortnight,  here is what I said.  Thanks to Lisa Bolt, Customer Services Team Leader for guiding everyone through their cognitive map.

Thanks to Donna Lanclos (@DonnaLanclos) and Matthew Reidsma (@mreidsma) from who I took inspiration. 

Lisa and I represent Customer Services at this event and I’m here to talk about data this afternoon. Yes data, hands up who had a little part of then die inside when I said that. How many people have asked, why are we collecting this? What are we going to do with it? That’s fine, I’m with you there…kind of. We have a lot of data in the library, we know have between thirty five and thirty six thousand people come through our turnstiles each month during semester. We know how many books are taken out every week, month and year. We know how many people use our study rooms, we know how much money we take in fines and we know how many people visit our website. We have a lot of data! We like that sort of quantitative data, if feels comfortable, it feels credible, it’s tangible our line managers like numbers.

So what does all that data tell us? For me, not that that much, other than we are very busy. We have a lot of people coming through the library and using our services. Great! The trouble is we don’t have a clue what they do when they get in here. We certainly don’t have a clue how the library fits into their larger learning landscape. The library is a small (hopefully significant though) part of what is happening with one of our users/customers. (I really don’t mind which terminology is used) If we can understand how we impact on their lives and how their lives impact on our services it can only help to improve things, not just for the customer, but also for us.

So how do we do that? What about surveys? (Who here likes surveys?) I don’t! In fact I’ve started to loath them. I was recently on the train where the conductor was asking who would like to fill in a survey. This thing must have been 5 pages long. I was tired, hot, I’d had a very busy day, the train was crowed, I didn’t like the bad language from the guy on his phone opposite me and my bag was annoying me because there wasn’t any storage. I didn’t take survey, but I doubt my experience would have been expressed through a number of tick boxes. If we survey students they I could tell you what the results will be before the survey happens. Students will tell us that they want more computers, more library books, more silent study space and they want to be able to eat and drink throughout the building. We wouldn’t even find out why they want these things.

So how do we get the data we want? How do we get valuable qualitative data? We need to take a big step back and reframe things a little. We need to think about what our library really is. Donna Lanclos (@DonnaLanclos), Associate Professor for Anthropological Research at the J. Murrey Atkins Library at UNC Charlotte, suggests some of the things our library could be. Our library is an artefact, it’s built by humans, it is of historical and cultural significance, we could say it is an artefact. It’s a culture, there are behaviour and expectations, we have rules and structures. Yes, we can say that it’s a culture. We could also say that it is a place, both physically and digitally. I speak about these spaces merging relatively often, something that you can read about in my other blog post. So yes, it’s a place. Just as importantly though, our library is people.

peopleblogThinking back to something that Matthew Reidsma said, Matthew is the Web Services Librarian at Grand Valley State University, Michigan. People built our library, all those books, people put them there. All the information in those books, written by people. Our website, built by people, much by me and Mike Ewen (@mike_even), all those links that you can never navigate around, yes, people.

Matthew suggests that we often forget about the people, he’s right. We often think only in tasks when developing our services. The issues is that people who use our library don’t live in task based silos, they come from places with emotion and culture, they have a life. We then wonder why they fail to accomplish the tasks we set. We wonder why they get angry. We forgot about the people.

All that said, we shouldn’t forget about the tasks. We need to understand the tasks, we need to understand the process behind our services. We also like tasks, they are easily understood, they are quantifiable, feel credible and we can put numbers alongside them. That’s one kind of story, but the experience of fulfilling those task is another kind of story. It’s a valuable story and it’s a way of us understanding the bigger picture.

So task based thinking is still important, we need tasks. But if we can move between task-based thinking and experience-based thinking and develop our services based on the way people experience and behave in our library, we can really transform the user experience.

One way we’ve been doing this in Customer Services is by using maps. Here is a map, it’s a satellite view of the campus. It starts to tell a story, it shows us what the campus looks like, it shows us that it’s pretty green, there is grass and trees and it shows is how the library is central on the campus. Here is another map, this time from our friends at Google. It shows the roads running around campus and they are all labelled. It shows us where the campus sits in the local community. Then the University provides us with a map of the campus, this time in 3D with all the building names, catering outlets and carparks included. This starts to help us understand what is available on campus.

map2What if we had maps that looked like this, or this. These are both cognitive maps which were drawn by our students last year. We asked them to draw a map showing their experience of the library. Everyone in the room today is going to draw one of these maps. I would like you to draw a map of your experience of working in the library. Lisa will take you through the process.

You have 6 minutes to draw a map of your experience of working at the library. Every two minutes you will be asked to change the colour of your pen in the following order. Blue, Red, Black. After the six minutes is complete you will have time to label your map. Try to be as complete as possible and don’t worry about the quality of the drawing!

Your 6 minutes start now…   Everyone enthusiastically draws….

You now all have a cognitive map in front of you, it’s personal to you and your experience. The reason we use three colours is to help illustrate and understand what is important to you, what are the things that are at the forefront of your mind or most important to you. What are the things that are there in the background and you don’t think about so much. When we did these maps with students we following them up with a short interview to help put some context around each one and we got a lot out of it. We then went on to code all the maps based on the method described by Andrew Asher http://www.andrewasher.net/BiblioEthnoHistorioGraphy/coding-library-cognitive-maps/.

Does anyone want to stand up and share what they have drawn and why?

Three examples shared.

These maps are yours to take away today, you don’t need to hand them to me, we don’t want to analyse them. But perhaps they are something to go away and reflect on.

Over the coming year we will be undertaking more UX work, using this and other techniques to dig deeper into how people really use our library services. If you have any questions or are interested, please don’t hesitate to come and have a chat about it.