New Year, New Fish

January 6, 2011

I’m not sure I like the phrase “user experience (UX)” to describe what happens when people come into the library. I don’t really like the word patron either, it seems rather clinical. Anyway Steven Bell‘s point is that libraries should think about designing user experiences that results in our patrons feeling a personal bond with the place. Without the place, or the library in our case, the user would have a sense of loss.

Users want ease, familiarity, simplicity and quality, in that order, in their UX.

Be memorable [in a good way].

A couple of ideas:

  • expand the Summer “Just Because You’re Here” idea
  • some kind of prizes at Reference – best question, 27th question of the month

I want to use the phrase”Hit the Wall” for something. I tell patrons that when sending them to the restroom. “Go down the hall, when you hit the wall turn left”

Just for fun: Penrose Staircase. As a game on WIRED

Bell, Steven, and Josh Hadro. “Fish Market 101: Why Not a Reference User Experience?.” Library Journal (November 16, 2010): 6-7. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 6, 2011).


Using My Home

August 3, 2010

Read, rather browsed, Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed by the usability guru Jakob Nielsen (2002). Some things to remember:

  • Don’t use word “website” when talking about subsites/pages/depts. “Website” is the whole. people may think they’re moving away
  • Homepage should look different
  • About Us – one place
  • Press/News – one place
  • Feedback – who does it go to and what will they do
  • Intranet should be more for us, work space, information clutters public space
  • Privacy policy if we are gathering information
  • Users scan rather than read text on screens
  • Don’t require users to register particularly for basic information
  • Full of words – too much detail in verbose text blocks
  • Dense layout
  • [We’re missing the power of the purple button]
  • Heavy graphic content should be balanced with simple core elements
  • Text must be information of value, expensive real estate
  • Have well organized categories

Building Information

July 9, 2010

I bought the first edition of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web in 1998 when it was published. My copy is even signed by one of the authors Louis Rosenfeld, although I can not remember the circumstances. We’ve ordered the most recent edition published in 2007. Things have really changed in ten years because the new edition is 300 pages longer, 504 vs. 202.

The one thought I want to remember from my copy is: “If a hierarchy is too broad and shallow, users are faced with too many options on the main menu and are unpleasantly surprised by the lack of content once they select an option.” p.38.


July 9, 2010

The Technology of Law, Bernard J. Hibbitts, 102 Law Libr. J. 101 (2010).

Neteracy – internet literacy; people learning to work, think, and express themselves in cyberspace.

Teaching our students neteracy (as much as we can ). Students may be net-native but they are not necessarily net-literate. They carry lots of gadgets and use many applications but there is so much “they don’t know, a great deal they take for granted and, in the absence of instruction, a great deal they haven’t tried or though through. On top of this, they’re hit with a style of law school pedagogy that largely delegitimizes what they do know and stuffs them back into the boxes of traditional learning.” p.106.

Reading on the internet is different from but similar in many ways to reading printed text.

  • Gathering – looking in the right places. Students tend to think Google/Wikipedia do it all. Fail to look for encyclopedias, archives, blogs, social networks
  • Filtering – challenge what they see, where does it come from, when, style of presentation. [Questions they tend not to ask consistently with “classic” legal materials print or electronic]
  • Scanning – quickly and effectively with understanding and retention [Quality of the presentation is important, see Writing]
  • Navigating – multi-directionality of web versus linear nature of print; need to have more of a sense of where you are going, how to get there, and how to get back [need tools to track research, save for later reading, organize into different trails]
  • Comprehended – comprehension may be a shifting plan as “information on web pages and elsewhere continually appears, changes, and disappears. In other words neterate comprehension is pointedly dynamic, not definitive, and readers need to be able to cope with this kind of fluidity.” p.108.
  • Evaluated – does comprehended information seem accurate, trustworthy, need verification. The researcher must accept responsibility for the critical analysis of sources.

Writing meaningful text for the web is very different than writing for print, particularly as compared to “legal writing”. Students need to learn to exploit the web for serious professional purposes.  Web pages are scanned so

  • verbal constructions should be short
  • few subordinate clauses
  • points visually highlighted or bulleted
  • important information up from as in newpaper lead paragraph style
  • effective hyperlinking, limit digression or worst getting lost
  • Design (layout, colors, font types) becomes more critical online and not usually thought about in print
  • Construction/organization – breaking down large amounts of information into appropriate categories – edited by students in UPitt course. Hibbitts believes law librarians are the ones to develop environments in which law students and new lawyers can develop their neteracy. Creating subject specific blogs where lawyers provide a service to the community and enhance their reputation as well as that of their firm.

I need to explore my idea of training students on use/application of online tools to build a professional portfolio. Taking briefs or papers and repackaging for the web, highlighting skills learned in class, through volunteer work, internships.

I’ve just finished How to Manage a Law School Library: Leading Librarians on Updating Resources, Managing Budget, and Meeting Expectations (Aspatore Books, 2008). Here are some things I want to remember:

Students view the library as a haven, a refuge, a home away from home. It should be comfortable and inviting. Our mission statement really isn’t a mission but declarations about us:

The Law Library provides resources and expertise to support the instructional mission of the School of Law and the scholarly research of the law faculty.  The Law Library is also an important source of legal information for the university community, attorneys, and private citizens.

Our mission should be to create a library such that our students wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. They should brag to friends at other schools about “their” library. The mission statement should capture the sense of the library’s place and its value within the community (p. 97).

Some of the authors suggested that primary materials in print are unnecessary, particularly reporters which are shunned in the “real” world (law firms) (p. 30). ABA Standard 606 should not be used as justification for continuing subscriptions to print reporters. The standards ensure a certain degree of uniformity; they are helpful but increasingly limited benchmarks with which to compare ourselves to others (p. 97). We should focus on secondary sources which are easier to use in print and monographs which are not available in print.

Our services should be tailored to maximize ease of use of the library. One library immediately purchases any book requested by a faculty member or student (p. 52). Sounds a little like the hotel that lets employees spend money to solve problems or Nordstrom which also allows employees do what is necessary to make the customer happy.

Let’s not participate in the “my library is bigger game”, meeting the needs of our patrons is the goal (p. 66). Size is not a determinant of overall quality. Rather “how close are we to the center of the intellectual life of the law school?” (p. 90).

“Suaveness of the student [re: technology] is a self-induced misconception.” They have a false understanding of what is online, a false sense of their research abilities (p. 72).

We need to transition from a collection-based institution to a service-based institution (p. 85). Organize our efforts around roles the students occupy in their three years:

  • 1L – learning language of the law, citations, test taking
  • 2L & 3L – clinical experiences, moot courts, journal staff, research assistants, summer associate, writing seminar papers, job hunting

The great libraries will “blend great collections with services necessary to return control, confidence, and understanding to their patrons.” (p. 91). The new law schools and their libraries are able to try innovations more easily than large, historic libraries (p. 111). Let’s pretend to be a new library sometime.

At UW Penny Hazelton has “closed days” for the staff. The day after the end of each term is a work day for the staff but they are closed to patrons. The staff are encouraged to clean off their desks, weed files and emails, finish complicated projects.

Just finished Design Talk: Understanding the Roles of Usability Practitioners, Web Designers, and Web Developers in User-Centered Web Design, Brenda Reeb. Here’s what I want to remember:

  • We need to use consistent terminology throughout
  • Usability includes
    • Efficient to use
    • Pleasant to use
    • Users have control and freedom
    • Consistency
    • Aesthetic/minimalist design
    • Affordances – is it obvious what it does, what happens if you click; tell people they are downloading something, how big is it.
    • Chunking – short, one topic documents
    • Progressive levels of detail – drill down for specifics, don’t put too much detail on top
    • Don’t lie – no links with nothing there (under construction is stupid); events that have passed
  • BROWSERCAM – Cross Browser Compatibility Testing Tools

    See your web design on any browser on any operating system. Check javascripts, DHTML, forms and other dynamic functionality on any platform. Not just yours. Use our bank of testing machines remotely to test your website. Includes devices as well.

  • Openwave, – devices, optimization
  • User-Centered Design – user focus must be applied to our products and services; this is the most important point, get over ourselves and how much work we put into something; it’s not personal. Even if we have people who want to be here, which we do, we shouldn’t annoy them with a difficult to navigate site that requires them to register.

A rather long report from OCLC but very interesting. Sharing, Privacy and Trust in Our Networked World. Things I want to remember:

  • Use of library web sites by survey respondents has dropped from 30% in 2005 to 20% in 2007 (when data gathered).
  • What about book clubs? Is there a place for them in our library?
  • The role of the library is for learning/information
  • Community events – our community is the law school community; they never see us as a participant. Our efforts have rarely been acknowledged nor sought out.
  • Librarians using delicious tags to provide more intuitive links into their online catalogs, Pt.5, pg.8
    • San Mateo Library – delicious used for web links rather than static web pages
  • Ann Arbor District Library – RSS feeds for holds and checkouts
  • Connotea – academic bookmarking
  • Educating users on best practices
  • Provide library information in forms which can be integrated into social networks – RSS feeds, blogs, etc. which can be syndicated elsewhere.
  • Change the landscape
  • Third place – destination after home, work/school
  • Embed themselves in user community
  • Staff recommendations/What we’re reading
  • LibGuides can be integrated into Facebook
  • Offer sessions on the use of LinkedIn to create an online portfolio; a UGA template?