Hello everyone. I’m Vernon. My role at Deakin is the Digital Library User Experience Specialist, or simply UX.
I’ll give an overview of my UX role and similar roles. I’ll cover some of the skills, capabilities and knowledge I’ve developed. I’ll describe the joys of my role, some tips for improving experiences, and list a few resources I lean on.
Why was this new role needed by the organization? – Kayne Richens, the Digital Library Technologies Manager at the time, determined that Deakin Library needed a UX role “… because we wanted to change the way we did things, and become more user focused. We knew we needed to change how much we listened to Librarians vs Library users - ideally flip that ratio! In order to do this, we wanted at least one person dedicated to doing this, and the only way to achieve this was to create your role. Whilst it's important that everyone in the org have a user-centered approach, without one person dedicated to lead it, it would never have got the attention it deserved.”
Did it exist 7 years ago? No. This role at Deakin started in September 2014.
Like most UX roles in libraries, I conduct research, mostly on various user types. Some of the methods will seem familiar, such as interviewing and prototyping, while others are fairly unique, like intercept surveys and system usability scales. Some research methods like co-design, can easily be adapted to work well in libraries.
I also drive the focus on inclusive design. Advocacy and accessibility are important for improving all users experiences with your services. “It is easy to forget that at the end of the day accessibility improvements benefits everybody, not just those with disability.” - Paul Boag https://twitter.com/boagworld/status/920231194800869376
My role also involves a plethora of communication: from conversations with users to discussions with team mates and colleagues, or reporting to project stakeholders, such as this dashboard I shared yesterday.
There are many disciplines of user experience design, eg information architecture and interaction design. My previous roles were as an information technologist, and web analyst.
Craig Macdonald’s article: “It Takes a Village”: On UX Librarianship and Building UX Capacity in Libraries” indicates that incumbents ”followed a unique path into their current position“.
Similar roles here in Australia… Swinburne University Library had a UX role, but Dana McKay has left her position to pursue her PhD. Nick Fitt is the UX Analyst in the library at the University of Queensland.
The bulk of library UX peers are in north America, Europe and the UK. You may consider pursuing or creating a new role at a library, or simply doing UX projects and tasks in your current role.
Since starting in my UX role, I’ve developed new skills, capabilities and masses of knowledge, including:
Empathy building Agile and Waterfall project management Research methods
Which skills or capabilities most difficult to acquire? Time management Shifting priorities Managing my workload - Every week seems bigger than the last!
--- Knowing and expanding on who I can collaborate with and delegate to --- Persuading stakeholders…? Liaising with vendors
What I truly enjoy about my role is being part of the story making of a user’s journey. Specifically, it’s the job of UX to “use story to turn data into insights” and “engage your target audience” – your stakeholders. The story arc might follow something like: Learning about pain points, collaborating on alleviating that, making people happier when using the library It’s quite satisfying!
Whether you’re taking up a role or simply doing UX in your current role, a few tips that might help improve the experience of your library: Reach out Be patient and persistent Keep an open mind, open ears, open eyes; Collaborate and Iterate
I’ve chosen a key resource that I lean on to learn about the evolving landscape of UX, and adapting or translating UX activities into libraries. Whether you’re seeking or creating a UX role in a library, or simply want your library to have a more user-centred focus, these resources might help.
Weave is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal for Library User Experience professionals published by Michigan Publishing.
These books have both digital and analog UX in libraries.
Need some inspiration for your digital strategy but don't have time for reading endless posts? Struggling to keep up with the latest innovations in digital? These short digital insights from digital consultant Paul Boag will keep you up-to-date. Normally only a few minutes long they are ideal listening when on the move.
UX companion is a handy glossary of theories, tools, and principles. It’s an app for both Android and iOS.
In our libraries, misconceptions about user experience are rampant: People don’t scroll; Mobile users are distracted; UX is a step in a project (last, right?); and this one I’d consider rephrasing - #14 You are like your users – I don’t think library professionals align with this, but I believe we spend too little time learning about users and involving them in the process. UX Myths explains why these misconceptions don’t hold true, and references research findings and articles. When you next need to go myth busting, print a poster, and point to the findings.
An international community of librarians sharing UX, ethnography and design thinking best practice. UXLibsIV in Sheffield, 6-7 June 2018 is themed on inclusivity.
This Slack community is a great support for anyone interested in discussing the ux of libraries. There’s now a mentor channel!
I’m signing up to CAVALs mentoring program for next year. If you’re thinking this might be a good opportunity to get started with UX in your library, join!