George and Joan, Thinking Out Loud: One from the Heart

In this special podcast, George and Joan talk about something a bit different from their usual content. We’ll let them explain:

Early on we realized that in order to convince librarians to move forward we had to demonstrate a clear connection between our recommendations and established library principles, values, and beliefs. We also recognized that those principles, values, and beliefs are powerful motivators when they are personalized, because everyone has a slightly different take on what matters most about libraries and librarianship.

We found it so useful in our own collaboration to share our professional philosophies with each other that we decided to publish a “This We Believe” statement, in hopes that it might stimulate your thinking as well.

They encourage you to write – and share – your own.

4 thoughts on “George and Joan, Thinking Out Loud: One from the Heart

  1. Thanks for your podcast. Some familiar thoughts, some things folks have been saying for a while, but also some good food for thought. I just question one of Joan’s statements. She says “our most important product is UX – most effective when we support and facilitate rather than control and deliver that experience” Sounds like you’ve been reading Subject to Change – “the experience is the product”. But the statement seems in conflict with the whole point of UX – that it should be the outcome of a specific design process. UX should not be random. Now, if you agree that it should be the outcome of a design (thinking) process, the first step is to put yourself in the place of the user. In that sense you might indeed support/faciliate what the user wants and needs – with the experience. On the other hand, the design of the experience would also be about creating change among staff so they start to think of their work as a cumulative experience the users receive. To say “control and deliver” does sound a bit draconian and we certainly don’t want that. But it seems to me that offer a UX implies a certain amount of control – and we certainly want to deliver the best experience possible. If our control is poorly executed (e.g.rules and policy based) and we deliver a bad experience – well – that’s broken and it needs to be fixed.

  2. Interesting point. I don’t limit “user experience” – particularly in this piece – to UX, as in website and app design. I’m thinking more broadly of a behavioral, relationship-based approach to library service. Data from OCLC, Envirosell, and my own practice indicate that most library users’ experiences include neither library-specific apps nor library staff intervention – users browse, they experiment, they employ non-library discovery tools, etc. Our role in the majority of cases seems to be setting up the candy store in advance rather than mediating the utilization of our resources in real time. Most user experiences are invisible to us – we only “deliver” them very indirectly. However, I agree that UX in any sense should not be entirely random. There are things we can do. I would like to see us focus on designing facilities, services, and tools that make it easy for users to craft/control their own experiences in ways that they find satisfying. I just don’t think we should design the experiences for them. I think it would be a good idea to move away from deciding what users “should” do, and towards observing and modeling what they actually do so we can support, facilitate, extend, and enhance that as it unfolds. I believe that “the best experience possible” is situational and individual to the user. To my mind, that concept is entirely compatible with a good UX design process. I’d like to see library interactions that work more like gaming – not scripted in a linear way but not entirely random, either. Btw, while I have read Subject to Change, this is not a new topic for me. The work has been evolving since before I wrote Shaping the “Experience Library” American Libraries, 33(4), April 2002, p. 70-72. Even that piece seems dated now, as it was still describing what we librarians do as if that were the driver in all this.

  3. Thanks for sharing your perspective. When I say “design the experience” I don’t want to shape something so rigid that the users are doing what I think they need to do, but the first step in the process is to really understand the user and what they want/need to do. If I get that right the experience I design should be focused on not what they “should do” but what they want and need to do – and my library accomodates them in a way that gives them that memorable experience for which they’ll want to return.

    Thanks for pointing out your AL article to me – I’ll have to go back and check it out – I probably read it back then but it probably didn’t register as it might now. I hope you’ll take a look at my article on UX coming out in the aug/sept AL – in which I’ll share my vision of a library UX and the three important components to a unique library experience.

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