Jason Kramer nails it one!
The Downside of Being Universally Liked | Advocate’s Corner (posted by Library Journal on May 15, 2013)
In the highly competitive and aggressive world of politics, no enemies usually means no allies. In my experience elected officials (and staff) have nice feelings about libraries, not strong feelings. As a result libraries, politically, suffer from benign neglect. The warriors don’t go where there is no war. …
Photo from the Gungahlin Library in Canberra, Australia
I love Rita Meade’s (@ScrewyDecimal
) reaction piece to Michael Rosenblum’s op-ed “What’s a Library?
” that was posted by the Huffington Post on May 8, 2013.
A Librarian’s Response to “What’s a Library?” (posted on Book Riot on May 13, 2013)
[With apologies for plagiarizing her title.]
Let’s be kind – let’s give Mr. Rosenblum the benefit of the doubt and assume he was honestly trying to critique the current state of libraries in some kind of difficult to discern attempt to help.
He still failed. Continue reading
The Lies You’ve Been Told About the Origin of the QWERTY Keyboard
by Alexis C. Madrigal (posted by The Atlantic
, May 2013)
This article strikes me for two reasons:
- It’s a great example of a user-focused design process – the QWERTY keyboard was designed based on user feedback to serve user need.
- It’s a great example of why a user-focused design process can’t ever stop – because this isn’t the best design for users anymore.
It’s so tempting, once a design project is pushed out to the public, after a lengthy development and feedback process, to say, “We’re done!” This is what happens with many, many websites in particular. But really – once it’s public, that’s just the beginning of the next stage. The user feedback should never stop.
There’s so much wisdom in this post, I had to share it here:
The Mobile Challenge | The User Experience by Aaron Schmidt (posted by Library Journal on May 6, 2013)
An 1870 oil painting by Ford Madox Brown depicting Romeo and Juliet’s famous balcony scene.
It would seem that this is going to be the year for Romeo and Juliet. There’s a new movie coming out (starring the wonderful Hailee Steinfeld) and the Kansas City Repertory Theatre has a production slated for their 2013-2014 season.
I’ve never particularly liked Romeo and Juliet. I feel like I should but I’m always disappointed by productions of it. For this, I blame a professor from my freshman year of undergrad. The reason I’m consistently disappointed by productions of Romeo and Juliet is because I have yet to see a production of it based on his interpretation.
This professor’s interpretation of Romeo and Juliet starts with the line Juliet says to Romeo after they have their first kiss – she tells him, “You kiss by the book.”
She’s not speaking metaphorically – she’s referring to an actual book. And she obviously doesn’t think that kissing by it is a good thing. Continue reading
The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens
Image: Robert Drózd, Wikimedia Commons
by Ferris Jabr (posted by Scientific American
on April 11, 2013)
When I was in grad school, I had an idea to conduct research into the neurological underpinnings of reading on paper vs. computer screens vs. ebooks. While my vision for the project was beyond the scope of what I could accomplish in the program and thus never got started, I’ve continued to be obsessed with this facet of our modern technology. I’ve written about it on this blog before. I continue to follow research being done on the subject.
This article from Scientific American sums up well what we currently know about how our brains process written language through different presentation media. It appears that I’m correct in my belief that these acts of reading are qualitatively different as far as our brains are concerned.
As librarians, we need to account for these differences in our resources – especially when it comes to education and literacy initiatives.
This is simply one of the best summaries I’ve read of the importance of libraries:
Libraries are uniquely positioned to make sense of today’s tsunami-like exposure to information, to allow people to transform facts into knowledge and to move knowledge along divergent paths of practical relevance and unbridled inspiration.
Libraries are uniquely positioned to do this for an audience of all ages and status — children, college students, community members, university scholars, researchers and just plain folks who are just plain curious. From princes to paupers, libraries are a great equalizer and emancipator. In this new environment, we are all students. Libraries — both physical and virtual — are the places where we learn, discover old truths and synthesize new knowledge.
… [L]ibraries have moved beyond being mere repositories for shelf after shelf of printed materials, as valuable as that function is. They are gateways to a dynamic world of information and the manner in which that information is collected, presented and used is as important as the information itself.
(From Why libraries are relevant in the Google age by Patricia Iannuzzi, posted in the Las Vegas Sun on April 15, 2013)
When it comes to making sure that all of our services are available on our library’s website, the best strategy is to make access intuitive and obvious.
The mistake that’s all too easy to make (and all too frequently made) is to assume that this means putting points of access right there on the home page.
At certain point, though, this requires either:
- Putting so many points of access on the home page that everything gets lost in the chaos and the site loses any sense of focus at all; or,
- Prioritizing certain services over others and keeping many points of access off the home page – which triggers our fear that we might fail to address every conceivable patron need in an obvious way, and unintentionally defines unwanted implications regarding the perceived relative value of these services.
To reiterate what PC Sweeney said: “Too many choices creates confusion.” Continue reading
Consider the way that many library websites handle online database collections: we list every database we have and let the patron find the one they need. We offer alphabetical listings of our databases, we have categorized lists… we offer multiple points of access to try and provide any given patron an option that might fit how they want to interact with the site.
But there’s a fundamental flaw in this use-case:
It puts the burden of identifying and locating appropriate resources on the patron. The general category and topics lists help somewhat – but the patron still needs to decide which category they need to drill through, and then they need to assess each database offered in that category to determine which might best serve their purpose. Continue reading
Prefab from Influx (image used with permission)
Designing a library website is challenging. Most commercial websites – e-commerce sites, for example, or promotional sites for businesses – have clear purposes and limited use-cases.
Libraries, by contrast, offer a staggering array of services to a wide variety of users.
How do you design for that? How do you focus your layout and navigation without sacrificing the visibility of all your myriad resources and services? How do you promote certain services without ostracizing patrons who are seeking services that aren’t being promoted? Continue reading