Library round up, part 2


Welcome to the second in our ongoing series of blog posts providing a snapshot of some of the local, national and international events that the University of Southampton library team attend. This time we feature our Client Services and Support Manager, Jenny Foster:

User Experience in Libraries conference, March 2015, Cambridge UK

Back in March I attended the first UX libraries conference to be held in the UK. Exploring anthropology and ethnography the conference brought together an international mix of librarians from the HE, private and public sectors. Unlike more traditional conferences UXLibs was fieldwork based with delegates split into teams and completing fieldwork before competing in Dragons Den type pitches for judges.  The aim was to identify and find solutions to problematic areas of library services using ethnographic techniques and the complex Cambridge Library system as a test subject.

One of my most valuable take homes from the conference came from Donna Lancos – a leading anthropologist who is well known in the American HE sector. Her keynote centered around the need to discover the root of problems, rather than find ways of navigating them. For me the analogy that explained this best was the idea of removing a door completely, rather than providing someone with the keys to the lock. Or in other words getting rid of the underlying problems and barriers, rather than trying to find ways around or through them.  Out of everything from the UXLibs conference I suspect this may be a theme I return to over the next few months.

Since the conference I’ve been focused on the transformation of our front line services, tied up with managing ongoing change at both Hartley and Avenue and reviewing the library Webchat service.  However the tools I was introduced to at UXLibs continue to be an influence, partly as a nagging presence across everything I do – but also in more obvious ways such as the process and journey mapping the team has started to undertake at Hartley. I hope to develop more of these techniques over the next year so don’t be surprised if a member of the library team asks you to do something as  odd as writing a break up letter to the library – just one of the many unusual means of collecting feedback we explored during the conference.


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