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Empowering librarianship through ux and ethnography


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Talk about UX and the work that has been done at Cambridge Judge Business School. Presented at Internet Librarian International 2015.

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Empowering librarianship through ux and ethnography

  1. 1. Empowering librarianship through UX and ethnography Georgina Cronin Acting Deputy Information and Library Services Manager University of Cambridge Judge Business School @senorcthulhu
  2. 2. What is ethnography? The systematic study of people and cultures where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study
  3. 3. How does this fit in with user experience? • Seeing the experience from the user’s perspective • Appreciating the significance of different cultures and styles • Removing potential bias and judgment • Understanding motivations behind actions • See where routines fall apart • Observe hidden behaviours • Apply responsive fixes and corrections to systems that are failing • Truly embrace the user’s individual experience
  4. 4. And what about librarianship? • We can better understand our users • Appropriately tailor services to individuals according to their needs • Be flexible and responsive • Provide some degree of resilience to change • Adapt and innovate to respond to varied demands • Respond to attempts to cut budget with user-based evidence • Better ourselves as professionals • Boost the knowledge of our profession
  5. 5. Real life examples… …from Cambridge Judge Business School
  6. 6. Behavioural mapping Allows researchers to document and track user movements and activities within a designed space
  7. 7. Desire lines Adapted from:
  8. 8. Findings • Many users enter through the ground floor entrance and walk straight up to the first floor working areas • Users are often quieter the fuller the space is and become more irritated by noise. This irritation is not present when the space is emptier • There is huge variation in duration of stay and use of resources (or lack thereof)
  9. 9. Solutions • Reassessed promotional materials to be positioned more appropriately. Also enabled first floor access to students • Reduction of staff noise – holding 1-2-1 meetings elsewhere and sending big print jobs to other machines in the building. Plus adjusting door closings had a huge impact • Provide more varied seating and furniture options. Not taking any biases about device use into future planning of space
  10. 10. Touchstone tour – Show me round Designed as conversation that uses artefacts and the environment as touchstones for questions and insights
  11. 11. Findings • Users invent really complicated workarounds to simple tasks and are failing to access key services (wifi, printing, databases) as a result • A lot of users had some very set ideas of what made a good workspace to them • Users did not like our kiosk terminals which we had developed to be flexible. They found them to be a barrier
  12. 12. Solutions • Staggering offering of key information throughout year rather than all at once in inductions. Also, more joined-up working with other departments • More space and variety of spaces for different student needs and preferences for working. Understanding of our two tribes – the ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ people • Coming to terms with the kiosk PC unpopularity and changing it for something more appropriate
  13. 13. Cognitive mapping Participants were invited to draw a map of their research and learning landscape
  14. 14. Image of cognitive maps removed for ethical reasons
  15. 15. Findings • Many faculty members did not use physical libraries, while students used a range of library spaces for different purposes • Almost all of the participants drew bedrooms as a key study area • Many participants indicated that they were regularly on the move and using a variety of spaces and tools to gain varying degrees of concentration/distraction
  16. 16. Solutions • Faculty members needed more 1-2-1 specialist support, especially with mobile working and storage options • Rather than selling our service as the centre of students’ lives, we recognise that we are one of many services and spaces that they will use…and that that’s ok • The variety of working methods (on site and remote) emphasises the need for our services to be as seamless and reliable as possible, regardless of physical location
  17. 17. Combining findings together • Each discreet project had its own findings • Combining these findings with other projects increased knowledge • Patterns and trends were identified • Some of these same patterns and trends were confirmed and corroborated by parallel projects • They altered (sometimes quite dramatically) staff bias and subsequent assumptions about user behaviour • Simple solutions were implemented quickly; longer solutions have been put into future planning strategies
  18. 18. So what has it taught us? • We understand our users far better than we thought we already did • We are more confident in the stuff that we did right • But we are more critical over the things that we missed • We stop ourselves more often when making decisions without any evidence to support them • We accept that we will not know everything about a user • We also accept that they will not always (if ever) tell us what is really going on • We can always improve and innovate established services
  19. 19. So, what’s next?
  20. 20. What’s in your bag?
  21. 21. ‘The ethnographer enters the field with an open mind, not an empty head’ David Fetterman in Ethnography Step by Step