Eleanor Friedl attended this talk by Steven Bell. Below are her notes and comments on the event:
On Friday, 5/21/10, I attended a designing-better-libraries workshop at NJIT, with Steven Bell presenting
“Designing the Future-Proof Library: Using a Design-Thinking Approach”
As he noted, we cannot foresee the future, but as with insurance purchase, we can observe, learn, and do what we can imagine and project in the way of incorporating “best practices” or “walking in the user’s shoes”! So, how…? Here follow some of my notes:
“User-Experience Idea! = Design Thinking -> Design Process: What makes for a good experience?
In design thinking – #1: understand problem!
Be careful of making predictions (e.g. “Here Come Cars without Wheels” – Popular Science, 1959)
but put in place safety measures to offset damage/loss
Creativity in design thinking: Be an innovation engine!
At S.Bell’s library, student workers who work in the stacks wear vests bearing “Staff Assistant” on their vests. This is to encourage bewildered users to recognize persons working in the library, persons they can ask for help in finding books (for users unfamiliar with the stacks and the classification system).
A slide presentation showed us how a diverse group of people worked to learn what they could about “users” (of shopping carts in a retail establishment, not a library), starting by assuming nothing!
The Deep Dive: The Design Thinking Process
Group work- individuals from diverse backgrounds (example: “Nightline” shopping cart project)
Specific, intentional focus – any, all ideas considered!
The Deep Dive: Empathic Design
Lots of information-gathering; design team made up not of experts on anything, except the process!
Make NO assumption! (computer mouse design followed non-biased observation; “ideal corp.”)
The Deep Dive: Identify the Problem
Sharing information gathered
The Deep Dive: Brainstorm Solutions
The Deep Dive: Create Prototypes – to try out idea/equipment, etc. (“small” before diving in “whole hog”)
The Deep Dive: Evaluation – Try it out!
Take an adaptive path instead of rushing through decisions without knowing if/how it’ll fly.
User Experience = UX
Focus on something systematic, different, memorable, something that stands out, that makes
someone want to repeat the experience!
Iconic UX examples: Apple/Disney/Nordstrom – that lead to well thought-out experience
STAGED / DESIGNED (Seattle Pike’s Place fish) – for WOW! Experience (Your service is awesome!)
What’s the library experience? Students are often terrified of research process! Poor expectation.
An Unexpected, positive experience leads to WOW!
Become a USER-EXPERIENCE librarian.
A library did this by giving students cameras to go about the library to videotape what they saw.
Look at the TOTALITY: Web / Reference / OPAC / Circ / Systems – They ALL work TOGETHER!
Emphasize Relationship-Building: with students, with faculty, but esp. with faculty members—that’s #1 because students take direction from their professors!
“future-proofing” the library = putting something “in place” to minimize
Disruptive challenges (e.g. future technologies we cannot anticipate; example, music industry—MP3)
A Dozen Ideas for a “Fitter” Future-Proofed Library:
1) Listen / Observe (Empathic Design)
2) Create / Innovate (Water-line Risk)
3) “Go LOCAL” i.e. have a local emphasis (differentiated from other libraries, to connect with students re their courses and specific needs, highly targeted guides to help with assignments; library guides, course guides)
4) Engage the USER (a Georgia Tech emphasis: “roving reference” librarians)
5) FIX what’s broken! Determine what’s broken. Signage? Do something about that!
Need a free-standing Directory?
6) Master ADAPTABILITY! Change? No problem.
7) Keep up! Know about the NEXT big thing / social trends / disruptive technology
8) Create PASSIONATE users: Observe those who are, what makes those students different? Learn from them what got them excited about how to do research.
9) BE a problem-FINDER! (“I’ve got the solution.” “Great! What’s the problem?”) Understanding the problem is ESSENTIAL!
10) Build Relationships – esp. with faculty. Students take direction from faculty! Observe: How do public libraries connect with the community?
Think about whether too much time is spent in the office; if so, make improvement.
11) Know your CORE values:
WHAT we believe in, e.g. privacy of information, etc.
What we believe really matters
DECISION-making is GUIDED by core values!
12) Think like Collins (Jim Collins, author of From Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall among others)
“It’s GOOD to be paranoid!” (“healthy” sense of paranoia, e.g. as in what’s coming up from behind? …is ours obsolete technology? …be aware—constant challenges, “inflection curve”
Example: Business swings up from “Inflection point” and goes on to new heights, but may fail to update or deal constructively with “disruptive challenges” and then decline.)
1) Talk to users
2) Talk about core values
3) Talk about the design
4) Talk about “tolerance level” for risk; perhaps try prototype of an idea before jumping in “whole hog”
You can CHANGE! Needed are:
Switch: How to Create Change When Change is Hard /
“Glimmer” / Warren Berger – firstname.lastname@example.org
Why the Paranoids Survive / Annie…
Moyer, Don. “A Silver Bullet” HBR May 2008, p. 132 (cartoon)
Higher ed. $99.00/mo.
“Future Proofing” Library Journal, Aug. 2008
The Design of Business / Roger Martin, Dean of Business School, U of Toronto
“knowledge funnel” -> algorithms, formulae—How can libraries do more?
(see American Libraries and Inside Higher Ed)
(In addition to those listed above, which I jotted down during the presentation and discussion, I have a bibliography hand-out.)
I should have mentioned, in my email sent yesterday, that in anticipation of the May 21st 2010 NJIT workshop on “Future-Proofing the Library” that I’d read—and recommend for reading to you as well—”What Future for Libraries?: Harvard’s Libraries Deal with Disruptive Change” by Jonathan Shaw, in the May-June 2010 issue of _Harvard Magazine_. Worthwhile!