Awesome Library Day In The Life

I decided last minute to do Library Day in the Life this time around. It all started this morning when I was at the gym. As I was working out I was listening to Steve Thomas’s most recent Circulating Ideas podcast featuring Bobbi Newman. I’ve really been enjoying these podcasts and liked listening to Bobbi talk about this grassroots project. It inspired me to share my day, especially since it was particularly awesome.

After working out and showering I got into the office, answered some emails, and did some much needed organizing of my desk and reading area (as you can see from the papers strewn about on my floor).

mess on the floor

I then spent the morning at the reference desk. I chatted with our director about spring/summer planning and staff retreats that are always really productive. I also got a video uploaded to our YouTube channel about annotated bibliographies (related to an assignment that our students will be working on soon).

I also was able to help a couple people on some really interesting questions. One was a student who wanted help brainstorming ideas for a capstone project on ethics in marketing. I was thinking about issues like privacy and filter bubbles, but we hit on to the idea of stereotyping and gender in marketing. I was thinking of a misogynistic commercial for Dr Pepper 10 that especially annoyed me and all the questions that marketing of that nature raised. I also was able to help someone who was looking for historical and primary material related to Samuel de Champlain and records of his journeys. I referred him to the bibliography of the newish book Champlain’s Dream and ultimately found digitized copies of Champlain’s work and works related to him from the Champlain Society (pretty awesome).

The best part of the day though was when I left the desk and headed over to our Emergent Media Center on campus and joined a group of faculty, staff, grad students, and undergrads who came together for a Design for America brainstorming meeting. “Design for America teaches human centered design to young adults and collaborating community partners through extra-curricular, university based, student led design studios.” These studios bring together folks from all disciplines to create real solutions to real problems in their communities. Champlain students want to bring a DFA studio to our college and this was a big step in that process.

Design for America brainstorming

The brainstorming session involved thinking about a specific scenario, taking time on our own to come up with solutions and then brainstorm as a four person team to solve a problem. We got to write, draw, use blocks, and mold clay to creatively come up with solutions to our problem. It was an awesome start to the process and I’m going to continue working on the team. We have a month to agree on a problem, design a solution, briefly test our design, and create a video about it. As the librarian in the group I’ve agreed to start working on the research aspect of the problem.

Projects like this are undoubtedly one of the most valuable things I can do in my job. They allow me to connect and build relationships with other faculty members, staff, and grad & undergrad students and bring my expertise to things that we are all working on.

The day ended by running back to the office late, picking up my CSA, and catching the bus home. Luckily it’s almost the weekend…


Love Your Thoughts

My new favorite spot in Burlington is Maglianero. It’s an industrial, bike centered coffeeshop (and it has a small skatepark inside). I have been thinking about student feedback and user-centered design a lot recently and the feedback cards that this place had struck me as being well designed.

Love your thoughts

On the cards they ask 5 simple questions:

  • What’s working?
  • What’s not working?
  • What’s missing?
  • What kind of events would you like to see in the cafe?
  • If you could change one thing in this world…

Feedback card

The design of the card is simple but it works really well, and I love the idea of a question that is not necessarily about the business, but is a question about personal meaning, values, and the “why” that Simon Sinek discusses in his TED talk.

I enjoying seeing creative ways of getting feedback and these cards do a good job of that.


Creating Meaning for Library Users

Two weeks ago I attended an event for the kickoff of the Native Creative Consortium of Vermont. They brought in Nathan Shedroff, a pioneer in Experience Design. His talk was fascinating. He talked about how everything is an experience and that companies and organizations, whether consciously or not, are creating certain types of experiences for their users. Instead of thinking that you’re a shoe manufacturing company, or a computer company, or library, you should be thinking more deeply about what experiences and expecially what meaning you are creating for your users. Shedroff’s main point’s are well captured in this TED talk:

Shedroff discusses 15 core meanings that we have as humans. These meanings are:

  1. Accomplishment - Achieving goals and making something of oneself; a sense of satisfaction that can result from productivity, focus, talent, or status
  2. Beauty - The appreciation of qualities that give pleasure to the senses or spirit
  3. Community - A sense of unity with others around us and a general connection with other human beings
  4. Creation - The sense of having produced something new and original, and in so doing, to have made a lasting contribution
  5. Duty - The willing application of oneself to a responsibility
  6. Enlightenment - Clear understanding through logic or inspiration
  7. Freedom - The sense of living without unwanted constraints
  8. Harmony - The balanced and pleasing relationship of parts to a whole, whether in nature, society, or an individual
  9. Justice - The assurance of equitable and unbiased treatment
  10. Oneness - A sense of unity with everything around us
  11. Redemption - Atonement or deliverance from past failure or decline
  12. Security - The freedom from worry about loss
  13. Truth - A commitment to honesty and integrity
  14. Validation - The recognition of oneself as a valued individual worthy of respect
  15. Wonder - Awe in the presence of a creation beyond one’s understanding

Thinking in terms of meaning when creating resources and services can be a really helpful framework in libraries. At a more professionally focused school (like my institution), accomplishment is likely a meaning that would be important to many students. With this meaning perhaps services would be designed in such a way that students could learn on their own and there are a lot of ways they can Do It Yourself (DIY). Perhaps at liberal arts college, enlightenment would be a more relevant meaning. For these type of users you may want to design more around the “a-ha!” moment. Using this model, you need to examine your own community and tap into what is meaningful to them.

We are not simply delivering access to e-books or databases. We are not only conducting reference interviews or doing information literacy. We are doing something much more important than that.