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  • valarie907 11:15 pm on August 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: examples, , ,   

    Library Sign Revolution 

    “Stop posting signs people won’t read and start posting (pretty) signs that matter.” (Rogers, 2012)

    Apparently people don’t read signs (Rogers, 2012).  So, why do libraries rely on them so much?  Signs provide information and libraries are in the business of information…coincidence?  I don’t think so.  Libraries have a lot of information to share, and good signage can reduce the redundancy of frequently asked questions and difficulties in order to improve the usefulness, usability and desirability of the library and its offerings.

    I chose to redo library signs that I noticed were not working during my observations for the context analysis assignment.  If it doesn’t work, then it’s time to rethink solutions figure out what will.  I used principles from Schmidt (2011), Williams (2004), and Roberts (2012), to guide my re-designs of the following signs.


    Entryway Sign

    Original entryway queit poster

    Original entryway poster  (Sorry for the reflection…but it proves another challenge for putting up good signs!)

    For the most part, people tend to be fairly quiet in the library, but the entryway ceiling opens to the second floor where the library is located.  Unbeknownst to many, voices carry loud and clear.  The informational sign posted doesn’t seem to catch people’s attention, as noted during an observation for the context inquiry assignment in which a young woman came in and continued her phone conversation even though she came through the door where the sign is posted.  The image is cute, but it looks childish, so it might grab the attention of kids or parents, but others might ignore it.  The attention grabbing text in red does not offer the most important piece of information and the centering takes away from the readability.

    Voices Carry

    Entryway poster revolutionized

    I looked for an image that was more generalizable to everyone, and came across this Creative Commons image on Flickr which appeals to me because it’s a dramatic black and white image and is off center.  The young woman is attractive in a youthful way that many people can identify with, and she doesn’t look like she’s judging anyone.  Plus, she’s looking up, as in upstairs.  This image communicated the need for quiet, so I didn’t have to spell it out, thereby freeing up space to play with.  I based my choice of words on what might actually be said to warn someone, as in “Psst, voices carry…they can hear you upstairs.”

    Contrast:  The image provided a great deal of the contrast.  It was serendipity that the image didn’t quite fill the page, leaving a white band on the top and bottom, so I centered it and filled the background with black to give it further contrast and sophistication.  I used large red text for the main message to grab people’s attention as suggested by Williams (2004).  I chose the font based on readability at a distance, by zooming out to see if it can still be read.  I added a shadow to the text to improve the readability by adding additional contrast since it was on top of the grey part of the image.

    Repetition:  The black band on top is repeated on the bottom.  Though I played with a lot of fonts, this sign had so little text on it; I decided to use the same font for all the elements, just in different ways.

    Alignment:  I set most of the text on the left to accent the image, except for the attribution URL.  I spread out the name of the library in the bottom band making it easier to read in a small font size, and wondered if it clashed too much with the plain text of the URL, but decided to keep it…I’m still not sure if I should have done that.  The JPG image isn’t as clear as the PPT or PDF, so it stands out better in the actual document.

    Proximity:  The two lines of text are close together, so that when the eye is drawn to the red text, the person will easily follow through and read the white text.  I placed the attribution URL for the image below the image in a small font size to the right because I wanted the eye to continue to drop to the library’s name after reading the main message.

    Printer Sign

    Original printer sign

    Original printer sign

    This sign isn’t working either.  It’s taped to the front and side of the printer, but people using the printer aren’t reading it.  During my context analysis, I watched a young man collect his printed items in confusion, looking from back to front over and over.  He checked with the front desk to figure out what happened, and stated that he was confused as he walked away…still looking perplexed.  I imagine this must happen frequently.

    Besides not catching people’s attention, the words, re-used paper, are split between two lines, and even I made the mistake of thinking re-cycled paper, which had a totally different meaning.  It’s too text heavy and the centering makes it hard to read or make sense of at a glance.


    Mini printer sign revolutionized  (or better yet, this one!)

    My solution is two-part.  First, I made a small sign to place on the printer, and then, using the same image to link the two, I made a poster to place next to the printer to grab people’s attention.  I chose the image because it had the familiar recycle symbol on it and the extra lines around it gave it the feeling of motion, which I thought was a good association for a printer.  I decided not to use either of the two logos for the library since they clashed with the overall design, didn’t look good if made very small, but I thought it was important for the name of the library to be included to give it some formality and gave it a wide spacing so it stands out and is easy to read as I did in the last poster.

    Printer poster revolution

    Printer poster revolutionized  (or better yet, this one!)

    Contrast:  The large title in bold stands out as the focus point in contrast to the bright blue and green recycle image.  I took a bit of a chance using a slab serif for the title, but it was the large contrasting focus piece, so I thought I could get away with it here.

    Repetition:  I used the same font for all but the large title.  The bright blue color is repeated throughout the design.  The arrows in the recycle logo are repeated in the bullet points in the same color.  I also used the same fonts for the Entryway poster, including the name of the library, which was set with wide spacing to help it stand out.

    Alignment:  The different sizes, contrasts and colors of the elements provided plenty of variety, so I used a right side alignment throughout for a distinct, simple and readable design.  I also made an effort not to space all the elements out evenly.

    Proximity:  The name of the library was placed above the title, to emphasize whose printer and sign these belong to.  This prevents having to repeat this information to clarify who to see in the last bullet point.  The details about the paper used and cost is together in one block element.

    I kept fiddling with the designs, trying this and that, getting a little lost in all the details.  It was particularly helpful to walk away from it for a bit and look at it again later, but sometimes, it just has to be good enough.  The best part is that all this experience adds up and I can get better at this.  *edit  In fact, I was struck by an idea while double checking the layout for this post and came up with a mini sign (JPG) and a large sign (PDF), that looks better.

    Sometimes a library is limited by its resources, and I was hoping that I could use software that was fairly common to make a decent sign.  I chose PowerPoint, and was pretty pleased with how it worked, although I need to purchase more fonts.  It’s probably a good idea to embed the fonts in the saved document, though, so others can view and edit in case they don’t have that font.  The most challenging aspect was the alignment, since a text box alignment was not equal to the actual text.  Sometimes a local printer won’t do a design justice, so it may be worth the effort of taking it to a copier for a more professional print if it will be around for a while.


    Roberts, J. (2012). Signs that work, part 2. Event and informational signage. Retrieved from http://jrdesignstrategies.com/environmental-design/1459/

    Schmidt, A. (2011). Signs of good design: The user experience. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2011/02/opinion/aaron-schmidt/signs-of-good-design-the-user-experience/

    Williams, R. (2004). The non-designer’s design book: Design and typographic principles for the visual novice. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.

    Also, for inspiration, check out this blog:  Library Graphic Design



    • johnpappas 2:57 pm on August 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I love the first one! It seems almost foreboding. I like a little humor in a library’s signage.

      • valarie907 4:31 pm on August 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks John!
        I really like how it turned out too. To be honest, I think I could have found a better image for the printer signs…I should have kept looking. I guess that’s the difference between having to find something (free) that works versus being able to design my own image. I wonder where the pros find theirs?

    • Aaron Schmidt 8:30 am on August 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Great signs!

      And to answer your question: professionals often make their own graphics.

  • valarie907 11:18 pm on July 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: examples, , persona   

    Creating Library Personas 

    Persona by Agonic via Flickr

    Public Library Personas

    School Library Personas

    Personas are fictional individuals that represent the characteristics of a target group.  Libraries can create and use personas to guide decision-making in order to effectively meet their community’s needs.  I’ve seen personas, but never used them, much less created them, so this week’s assignment was new territory.

    I drew on experience and data from a library marketing project for our community library museum and my experience with our elementary school library to create two public library personas and two elementary school library personas.  It was a challenge to focus on specific details to create a realistic persona.  I kept thinking about what was missing.  Fortunately, Schmidt (2012) addresses this by suggesting that a library create five personas as the sweet spot between generic and specific.

    While brainstorming I realized I unintentionally chose similar personas for each library type.  Two thoughts came out of this.  First, I realized that one really needs (informed) input from others to create realistic personas.  Second, I could continue with these similar personas and explore how they might differ for each library type.  I was fascinated how they might differ, so I have a young child persona and a middle age adult persona for both the school library and the public library.  The characteristics of the users are quite similar, but their usage of the library is quite different, so the answers to any questions about their wants, needs, and goals differed considerably.

    These sources were especially helpful in creating these personas:

    I’m grateful for Mr. Schmidt’s article about personas, because there simply are not many out there.  Did I say many?  I meant any…I couldn’t find any other library articles about personas (please share if you did!).  The Learning Space Toolkit:  Creating Personas Workshop Tool (n.d.) offered valuable directions. The first step was to identify assumptions about library users.  This was essential before moving on to step two to ditch those assumptions and neat little categories we place users in, and identify their goals according to their wants and needs.  Writing them on sticky notes is a great idea to prepare for step three, when it’s time to organize these goals by theme, to create a “skeleton.”  Step four transforms that skeleton into a persona to sum up a user’s primary needs.

    There were plenty of business and marketing articles about personas.  Coming across so many business references to personas lead me to back to a question that continues to grow as I progress through the program.  Should we apply a business model to libraries?

    For the most part, libraries are nonprofit institutions, but there seems to be a rise in operating them like a business, yet a business model changes expectation for management and operations, like raising an expectation they need to generate revenue.  Having taken Managing IT in the 21st Century, Marketing of Library & Info Services, and a 10 week Small Business Workshop last semester, I’m still seeking balance between nonprofit and business approaches to libraries.  I wonder if creating personas to build library programs and services encourages libraries to generalize too much and market to the masses.  Are you concerned about these issues?  Please share your thoughts and ideas…


    Learning Space Toolkit. (n.d.) Creating personas workshop toolkit.  Retrieved from http://learningspacetoolkit.org/needs-assessment/working-with-data/creating-personas-workshop-tool/

    Schmidt, A. (2012). Persona guidance: The user experience. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2012/10/opinion/aaron-schmidt/persona-guidance-the-user-experience/

    PS.  I got the names I used from Popular Baby Names.

    • pmartin 7:02 am on July 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Love, love, love the quote you chose for “Michael”: “Do I have anything checked out?” That sounds very familiar, and says so much about the user segment!

      • valarie907 12:31 pm on July 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Pam,
        I meant to mention in the post that I not confident about my personas because input from others is so important, but that quote was a no-brainer…I even chuckled as I wrote it. =D

    • trishalendo 9:38 pm on July 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I like that you included the “About Me” section at the end of the persona. It read differently then the others, but still got all the points across. It was kind of like when you read about an author, director, or journalist after you experience their work.

      • valarie907 11:10 pm on July 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks! One thing I didn’t like about the NCSU Libraries sample personas was all the text…and thinking back to the writing for the web week, I decided I preferred bullet points instead. I did like their “What in my bag” section, but lacked an appropriate application that worked for the school and public library personas.

    • Aaron Schmidt 8:05 pm on July 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Hurrah for sticky notes.

      Glad your computer is back in action because your work is great!

  • valarie907 11:21 pm on July 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: environment, examples, , , staff,   

    Library Touchpoints 

    We all know the importance of first impressions.  First points of contact in libraries are important because they leave unforgettable first impressions.  There are several touchpoints that act as first points of contact which are important for giving a positive first impression to encourage library patrons to return to visit again and again.

    First Point of Contact:  The Entrance (space, signage and staff)

    Mosley (2007) suggests that some library users know exactly what they will do when entering a library, but not all do and it’s important that the library be prepared to offer a positive first impression and meet the needs of those who don’t.  While Mosley focuses on the desk nearest the front door, it also includes the experience the visitor has when approaching the library and entering the library on his/her senses:

    • Sight:  Well kept, tidy, neglected, litter, signage…?  Is it welcoming and obvious where to go?
    • Touch:  Soft carpet, wood flooring, concrete…?
    • Sounds:  Quiet, loud, echoing, talking…?
    • Smell:  Clean, mildew, body odor (big homeless issue), chemical…?
    • Taste:  Hopefully there is no taste, but strong smells, such as exhaust can be tasted.

    These physical experiences send subtle messages to the library visitor that can be pleasant or unpleasant and add to their library experience.

    Pleasant Signage

    Signage as a point of contact is important because it often reflects a less formal communication that reflects more of the personality of the library.  A sign that is sloppily put together, posted or with a negative message is not a pleasant greeting for visitors.  Signage that communicates respect and consideration towards library patrons demonstrate empathy and value for them as fellow human beings.  A TTW article (2010), complete with photo and text from Leah White demonstrates how important these messages are:  “Many library users return to libraries because there is something special that keeps them coming back. However, if you welcome them at the entrance with insulting signage, people will think twice about patronizing such an institution.” (Leah White, 2010)

    Trained Staff

    Another important part of the entrance is the staff the visitor first encounters (Mosley, 2010).  Often workers at these front counters are paraprofessionals, volunteers, or student workers.  All staff should be trained to greet visitors and to communicate verbally and nonverbally they are available to help.  They should also be trained to provide accurate directions to common questions.  An ability to empathize with the visitor’s anxiety of visiting a new place or unanswered questions is important to make this effort natural and sincere.  Training should include how to address questions they don’t know the answers too and how to follow-up with those questions.  Regardless of their professional status, any staff at the front counter represents the library and should be equipped to answer questions (Mosley, 2010).

    One More First Point of Contact:  The Library Website

    The library had traditionally been a physical space that one visited, but with the rise in internet access, the library website is often the first point of contact.  Krug (2006) gave us a lot of tools to establish usable library websites that are self-evident, easy to scan and navigate.  Creating useful, usable and desirable library offerings should be an important part of decision making to provide excellent user experience (Schmidt, 2013).  In some cases the library website may be the only point of contact when potential patrons research a community they will move to, or should a person be homebound, or if they are only interested in the offerings available through the website, such as downloadable materials or databases.  Giving the library website users the information they seek and a means to obtain more information as needed is an extension of the library’s user experience, and there are no second chances to get it right.


    The most important purpose of these touchpoints is that the patron successfully completes their mission.  If they don’t find what they need, it is unlikely they will return.  If they find what they need, this success will encourage them to return to fulfill another need, and repeated success will ensure loyalty and support.  One of the most valuable lessons in this class so far is that UX is a perpetual objective and a good library never assumes it has achieved ultimate usability…it constantly strives to adapt to and meet their community’s needs.  This sounds very subjective, but it would be worthy to assess and evaluate all library touchpoints on a regular basis.  Nicholson (2004) proposes several methods of evaluation of a library as a system rather than attempting to isolate these touchpoints and their impact on the library as a whole.



    Krug, S. (2006). Don’t make me think!: A common sense approach to Web usability. Berkeley, CA: New Riders Pub.

    Mosley, P. (2007). Assessing user interactions at the desk nearest the front door. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 47(2), 159-167.

    Nicholson, S. (2004). A conceptual framework for the holistic measurement and cumulative evaluation of library services. Journal of Documentation, 60(2), 164-182. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/docview/217961349?accountid=10361

    Schmidt, A. (2013). Is your library a sundial?: The user experience. The Library Journal. Retrieved from lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/03/opinion/aaron-schmidt/is-your-library-a-sundial-the-user-experience/

    White, L. (2010). Leah White on library signage.  Tame the Web. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/2010/07/15/leah-white-on-library-signage/ Original article at http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/article/signage-better-none-bad

    • valarie907 11:23 pm on July 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Sorry for the late post…I was trying to add images, but I guess I had to many windows open and I had computer problems. Fortunately, my text was saved in a Word document! =)

    • pmartin 7:10 am on July 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Nice post, Valarie! Thanks for bringing up the “entrance” touchpoint. Have you had a chance to read any of Paco Underhill’s work on consumer behavior? In LIBR204 we touched on some of his theories about entrances. For example, according to his research, people tend to stop and then turn right upon entering a store (and, probably, libraries too).

      Mosley’s observations about smell and taste are important. A library where I worked was in a recreation facility. Every time the pool staff put new chlorine in the pool, the fumes in the library were overwhelming. We suspected that the venting was such that we were getting direct air transfer from the pool’s work room (where chlorine was being poured). To the best of my knowledge, though, the problem was never investigated, despite the fact that both staff and patrons complained about burning airways!

      • valarie907 1:08 am on July 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for reminding me about Underhill, Pam!

        A book I read by Peter Block, titled Community, emphasized hospitality to build a sense of belonging and community. I think this can be communicated no matter the physical and monetary limitations many libraries are faced with and it should start with first points of contact. Pam Sandlian Smith, the director of the successful Anythink libraries spoke about hospitality in her keynote at our 2012 state conference and referenced Setting the Table by Danny Meyer, and it’s been on my to read list every since.

        The situation with the pool sounds awful. The pool at the school uses too much chlorine, so I can only imagine…I can hardly stand to be in there!

    • Aaron Schmidt 10:32 am on July 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the citation to the Mosley article. I’m going to read that today!

      • valarie907 11:35 pm on July 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        You’re welcome! I was expecting to find other articles about first points of contact, but I probably need to do a better search to find more.

    • jodythomas 11:32 am on July 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      The smell issue is an interesting one. I recently came across a trivia point that Disneyland pumps the faint smell of vanilla out onto Main Street to evoke that old-fashioned homey feel/memory. My library is older and does have the “library smell” of faint mildew, which some people think of as nostalgic and others don’t like, for health reasons and general cleanliness issues.

      • valarie907 12:22 pm on July 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Jody,
        I read an article some time back about old books releasing a smell close to vanillin. I couldn’t find it, but here’s a recent one by Pew on the smell of books. The science of “the smell of books” I don’t favor a mildewy smell, though. At Disney’s California Adventures, they use smell-o-vision on one simulated ride/movie of California and I remember smelling oranges. =)

      • valarie907 1:42 am on August 3, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Jody,
        I just came across an article that made me think of this conversation about smell: Smell Of Chocolate In Bookstores Increases Sales, Study Finds

        Chocolate and vanillin (lignin) sounds good to me! =)

  • valarie907 9:07 pm on July 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: examples, , problem solving   

    5 Whys: Problem Solving for Libraries 

    Solving library problems using the 5 Whys technique.  It was a challenge to narrow down the following problems to a single root cause, but it was an interesting way to explore a problem.


    Library Problem 1:  Items borrowed from the library are not returned to the drop off location

    Why 1

    Why is it difficult for people know where to return items to the library?

    Because they forget where to return their items.

    Why 2

    Why don’t they know where to return items?

    Because there is no sign for the book drop.

    Why 3

    Why isn’t there signage for the book drop?

    Because one has not been made to use for the traditional book drop space (counter).

    Why 4

    Why hasn’t a sign been made?

    Because there is not good place to put it.

    Why 5

    Why has there been no action taken to create a book drop sign or alternative place to leave items?

    Because traditional behaviors have prevented problem solving to set up a proper book drop.

    Comments:  This is a sad but true problem in our school library, which has been on my mind for some time.  We need to designate a space for the book drop, so our students and staff can be confident their borrowed items are returned to the library.  Since signage seems to offer an inadequate solution in the traditional space on a counter that gets a lot of usage, we need to rethink our traditions and assumptions to solve this problem.  This exercise has me thinking, and I have a few ideas we can explore.


    Library Problem 2:  Patrons viewing sexually explicit material in the library may expose other patrons to lewd and inappropriate behavior in the library.  (I think this may be too big for this exercise, but I wanted to give it a go anyway.)

    Why 1

    Why are patrons viewing sexually explicit material in the library?

    Because access to unfiltered wifi in the library allows library patrons to view anything on the internet.

    Why 2

    Why doesn’t the library filter it’s wifi to prevent access to sexually explicit content

    Because the library upholds First Amendment rights for intellectual freedom and uncensored access for all.

    Why 3

    Why is access to sexually explicit content leading to lewd and inappropriate behavior?

    Because rules and expectations for appropriate behavior in a public space are not being followed.

    Why 4

    Why don’t these patrons follow the rules?

    Because they don’t care.

    Why 5

    Why don’t they care?

    Because they don’t have self-control.

    Comments:  Protecting First Amendment rights along with the safety of other’s is a challenge when it comes to access to pornography in the library and the behaviors it sometimes results in.  Yes, you know what I’m talking about.  This is where theory meets practice.  It makes me appreciate the San Francisco Public Library’s Open Access Policy FAQs.

  • valarie907 10:08 pm on June 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , examples,   

    Cutting Down Library Website Content 

    Static pages should be written with as little time sensitive content as possible, to prevent the need for constant revision.  They should also be organized visually and with important information in an easy to read format (Redish, 2007).  The writer needs to pay particular attention to the language used for their audience.  This elementary library site is attempting to meet the needs of three groups requires careful wording and succinct text to make the content meaningful to all of these audiences.

    1. students
    2. teachers/staff
    3. parents

    Since this is a site I am working on I have knowledge of the audience and the frequently asked questions about the two following topics.

    Rewrite #1:  Home, Information or About?

    Webpage:  http://sealionlibrary.blogs.kpbsd.k12.ak.us/wpmu/


    Note the length and images

    Original text: 


    All classes to get library books in by Monday, May 20th get their names entered into a raffle for a special prize.


    Explore the rhythm and sound of poetry in the Poetry Beats Studio.

    What is your favorite book? Leave us a comment below.

    Library Schedule for the School Year:

    • Open library from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. and during lunch and recess everyday from 12:00 to 12:30 and 12:30 to 1:00.  Come look for a great book!
    • Library classes are held everyday, see the schedule outside the door for details or contact the school directly.

    THANK YOU to all the wonderful volunteers who made Spring Book Fair 2013 happen!

     Library Podcast in ARCHIVES. Listen to students and teachers talk about reading and books.

    Seward Elementary Library Policy:

    • K-2nd grade, 1 book checked out at a time, up to 2 weeks
    • 3rd -6th grade, 2 books checked out at a time, up to 2 weeks

    Students may renew books to extend their checkout date.  Overdue books are to be returned or fines paid before checking out another book.

    Fines are charged only when a book is lost or damaged beyond repair. Costs for books vary. Please contact [Librarian] or Mrs. Kingsland under these circumstances.

    Phone: 907-224-3356

    Email: librarian

    Email: library aide

    Rewritten Text:  Includes just the information needed, no more, broken down in short chunks for easy scanning and readability.  I’ve been considering putting the contact info on a separate page with a contact form…still undecided…

    Library Schedule

    • Library Classes: meet through the week for 30 minutes
    • Open Library:  Every day during lunch and recess (Noon- 12:55 pm) school wide
    • The library schedule is posted outside the library door and online [Google doc link]

    Borrowing Policies

    • K-2nd  One book at a time for up to 2 weeks
    • 3rd -6th: Two books at a time for up to 2 weeks
    • Books may be renewed
    • Overdue books must be returned before checking out another book.  There are no overdue fines.
    • Lost or damaged books may result in a replacement charge.  Costs vary.  If it presents a hardship, please let us know and we will work with you.  The intent is for students to learn responsibility, not to punish them.

    Contact Information

    • 907-224-7573
    • Librarian [name] [email]
    • Library Aide [name] [email]
    • Mailing Address:  POB 247
    • Physical address: 600 Sea Lion Ave
    • Seward, AK  99664

    Rewrite #2:  Book Fairs


    The link goes to a book fair that already ended

    Webpage:  http://sealionlibrary.blogs.kpbsd.k12.ak.us/wpmu/book-fair/

    Original Text

    Click here for all book fair information: BOOK FAIR HOMEPAGE

    We still need volunteers.  Conatact the library at 224-7573 or sign up at the office or in the library. All volunteers must fill out the volunteer application.

    Rewritten Text:  Page is rewritten based on experience with a dozen book fairs at this school, many of which I orchestrated, and the frequently asked questions I heard every time.  Here’s to paying attention to your audience.  I look forward to re-examining this this fall as we begin planning the book fair for October and seeing what could be further cut, cut, cut (Redish, 2007)!!!  Thank you, Janice Redish!

    Seward Elementary Library Book Fairs

    The library usually holds two Scholastic Book Fairs a year.

    • Fall Book Fair:  Held during parent/teacher conferences in late October
    • Spring Book Fair:  Usually close to March 2nd for Read Across America and Dr. Seuss’s birthday

    The book fair offers books from preschool board books to upper-elementary fiction, non-fiction, activity and discounted books.  Included are novelty items, such as pens, pencils, erasers, and posters.  Scholastic also sends a small selection of cookbooks for adults.

    The profits from the book fairs provide funds to purchase books, supplies and Birthday Books for the library.

    Announcements will be posted to this blog, but you can call for more information

    Interested in volunteering? 

    • Stop by or call us at 907-224-7573 and let us know
    • Fill out this volunteer application before the book fair

    Rewrite #3:  Christchurch City Libraries: Borrowing items


    just a little toooooo long

    Webpage:  http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Services/Borrowing/

    This library almost gets it.  The content is pretty well written and gives useful content by focusing on the facts, but the page is just too long.  Too long to print here!  What I like about the page in spite of the length is how they organized the process one goes through in borrowing an item with large clear headlines for each section.  They did a good job of handling the information their patrons expect to access online about how to borrow items from their library.

    They could have applied the strategy suggested by Redish (2007, page 73, figure 5-3) to break up the content into topics.  So instead of a long page, it might look more like this with links to pages the content they put together for each section:

    (unfortunately, it isn’t styled as it would be online, but I hope you get the idea…)

    Stock availability

    When items are available for borrowing

    Locating items

    How to find an item in the library

    Placing holds

    How to place a hold on an item

    Borrow an item

    What you need to know to borrow items

    Returning the item

    Ways items can be returned to the library

    Overdue items and money owed

    What to do if your item is overdue or you owe money

    Each was followed by a bullet-ed list of simplified sentences that are easy to skim for key words that could easily be placed on a separate page.

    ps.  Those multi-color tabs on the bottom of the header blend in with the header graphic and are difficult to see.  It would be better if the label was inside the tab, rather than on top of it.

    Redish, J. (2007). Letting go of the words: Writing Web content that works. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

    • Aaron Schmidt 6:13 pm on July 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Great rewrites. Here’s a comment about your second example:

      How important is getting new volunteers? Did you place that info low on the page because you considered it a low user need? While I ALWAYS advocate for writing with the user in mind, if there was a library need for more volunteers, you might find a balance with the placement of that.

      There’s no right or wrong here, and the actual copy you wrote is well written, I’m just noodling around.

      • valarie907 12:25 am on July 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for pointing that out, Aaron! It was placed low as a chronological notion to introduce the events before soliciting help. But, ideally, I would place a small text box/graphic to solicit volunteers on each page with important links, for visitor convenience and to show volunteers are welcomed and valued. I’ll have to take a look and see what I can set up with this account and available themes. Or, perhaps a Volunteering page …hmmm…

        I think this is a great example of the limitations of using a CMS for a website. Certainly some, like wordpress.org, gives much more control over the overall site, but we only have access to Blogger (almost no control!) and wordpress.com with limited admin privileges through our school district. A lot of the issues with our blog were a result of those limitations and lack of experience.

  • valarie907 9:39 pm on June 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , examples,   

    Good Library Webpage Content 

    Based on the principles in Letting Go of the Words by Janice Redish (2007), good content is:

    • a conversation (pay attention to your audience!)
    • answers questions (focus on the facts!)
    • grab & go info (we’re busy and have other things to do!)

    Here are two examples of how a library can use its online presence to accomplish these goals.  They demonstrate empathy by valuing the time their patrons spend when visiting their site for information bygiving them the facts in a easy to scan and read format. (Redish, 2007).

    The City Library: About

    TheCityLibraryAboutPageWebsite:  https://www.slcpl.org/about/

    This is one of my favorite library websites; I love their use of white space, color and meaningful images.  But, I wasn’t sure how they would handle a tall order an About page for a very large library system.  Their About page defaults to the Locations & Hours page (it should be highlighted so we know that) which consists of a simple, non-fussy contact form and an attractive list of their locations accompanied by a nice photo of each one.

    The content is divided by clear categories in the right sidebar menu to dig deeper into the site for more specific information.  The City Library handles the complicated matter of sharing too much information at once beautifully by channeling a smooth path by utilizing the menu to manage the overflow of information (Redish, 2007).  There is a risk of getting lost while going in deeper as the side bar menu changes, but the About tab on top stays consistently in place, along with their signature logo for consistent branding and site recognition (Redish, 2007).

    Live Oak Public Libraries: Story Stones

    LiveOakLibraryStoryStonesWebpage:  http://www.liveoakpl.org/events/summer_reading/story_stones.php

    This announcement for a children’s program is perfectly succinct and readable.  It offers a general idea of the activity with a single image that is gender neutral (Redish, 2007).  It gives the age group the event is targeted towards as well as the presenter’s name and qualifications for conscientious parents.  This is followed by a list of library branches, phone numbers, dates and time surrounded by a lot of white space that is easy to read.  The only thing I wondered about was why some library names/numbers are in bold and some not.  I know some web editors have a difficult interface and I’ve wrestled with my share of stubborn posts that refused to do what I wish, so I put it down to that.  Regardless, this is a perfect example of keeping announcements simple and attractive.


    Redish, J. (2007). Letting go of the words: Writing Web content that works. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

  • valarie907 6:17 pm on June 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: examples, ,   

    Confusing Signage 

    On a recent trip from Albuquerque, NM, I spotted a sign that had me confused.  I was going through security and chose the shortest line for the TSA screening, when I noticed a sign while heading towards it.  It was a tall rectangular sign with lots of words on it, but in large bold words it said something like “Passengers 75 and Older.”  A guard saw me looking at it and in anticipation of my questions said, “Read the whole thing,” but the lettering was too small so I was going to confirm that it was okay for me to get in this line…he broke eye contact and repeated what he said, so I looked around and ahead for confirmation that I was okay.  Upon seeing that the line was empty, I went on ahead.  It turned out the sign was to inform people 75 and older that they got special treatment during the screening process.

    The guard seemed to shake his head and it occurred to me that this must have happened many times.  I wanted to defend my intelligence and say that it wasn’t me, it was the way the sign was designed, but my courage failed me.  I thought to share it will all of you because it illustrated how easily design flaws interrupt our lives…that guard is going to be shaking his head a lot as people continue to think they are in the wrong line.

    I wish I tsa.signtook a photo of it, but I’m not so sure the guard would have been agreeable to that.  The sign had similar verbiage to this, but the emphasis was on “Passengers 75 and Older” and the explanation was in smaller font that was hard to read until you were close enough to be uncomfortable about being in the wrong place…






    …unlike this sign where the emphasis is on the year 1937, making it much more clear what the sign is about.  Albuquerque Airport needs this signage!


    • pattymapes 8:56 am on June 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I can relate to both your frustration with an aspect of an airport security line and your reluctance to speak up. I feel bullied every time I go through security, whether at the world’s busiest airport (Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson) or tiny Canton-Akron in OH. Most recently in Atlanta, my bracelet set off the security alarm. I stepped back to remove it but couldn’t see the clasp because I had been required to take my reading glasses off my head and send them through. So, with no glasses I have no hope of getting the bracelet off and the line is stopped behind me. The TSA worker told me to “Please hurry, ma’am.” Biting my tongue and close to tears, a kind teenage boy right behind me saw me struggling with the bracelet and unhooked it for me. The scrutiny seems over the top.

      • valarie907 3:48 am on June 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        What a terrible experience, Patty! TSA is one entity that would benefit greatly from more empathy, which I think makes for a convincing argument for privatization of airport security. Contracted companies would have something to lose by not doing a good job on behalf of all stakeholders rather than operate from such an egocentric position.

    • pmartin 11:44 am on June 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      What I don’t get is why seniors can’t keep their jackets and shoes on at every checkpoint. Since they would have to show proof of age anyways, why not offer this courtesy at each line? It seems to me the signage is just one symptom of a bigger user experience issue.

      • valarie907 12:46 pm on June 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Good point, Pam! I think their definitions of customer service and courtesy would not be the same as that of most businesses…certainly not nonprofits. This is evident in the absence of any such language on their About or Stakeholders pages. They have a narrowly defined mission that disregards the experience and an approach that resulting in a negative experience. Unfortunately, this sets up a hostile relationship with those they have the most contact with, the travelers (their public!) which I can’t but help think must compromise accomplishing their mission.

        It also has me asking: Why does authority seem to imply negativity…is it a result of an underlying strategy to intimidate or simply the result of how we perceive authority?

    • Aaron Schmidt 6:16 pm on July 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Nice discussion!

      Once you see UX as a thing, you can’t unsee it!

      • valarie907 12:03 am on July 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        So true! I really enjoy how it translates to how everything works…it really appeals to the problem-solver in me.

  • valarie907 8:50 am on June 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: examples,   

    Non-library User Experiences 

    The best user experiences are helpful, genuine and satisfying.  The worst are clumsy, uncomfortable and frustrating.

    A lot of people complain about making phone calls to get something done…there isn’t a real person on the other end of the line, the list of options are too complicated, the wait time too long, etc.   One can make the same arguments for doing business online…the directions are too vague or confusing, the page takes too long to load, and there are too many error messages.  There is a tradeoff between convenience and custom service with virtual, phone and in person user experiences.

    I pay the bills, but the car insurance bill does not come in my name, so I don’t always get it, or it gets buried, and it’s often a rush to get it paid on time.  (Yes, I tried to change it, but can’t.)  I tried doing it through email, but deleted my first online bill because it looked like spam and not a bill.  Then, I found their online payment system to be frustrating when only one car showed and had to spend extra time on the phone to figure that out. I was really busy when it once again came time to pay, so instead of taking time to see if the online payment would work this time, I called the rep even though I worried she might be frustrated with me.  She didn’t hesitate to find out what I needed, stated the options, and called in my payment for me with efficiency and goodwill.  She listened and realized that my need was not just to pay the bill, but was also to do it in the quickest way possible, and she took the extra steps to make it happen for me.

    In person service and user experience is not necessarily better.  For instance, I avoid going to the bank.  Every time I go they ask if I have my debit card.  I know this isn’t a big deal, but I don’t use it and being a minimalist, I don’t carry a bunch of cards in my wallet.  I realize they prefer that people use it to access their bank accounts, but I don’t like being asked for it and being told the advantage of it every time I say I don’t carry it because I don’t use it.  It occurred to me that they are not asking for it and telling the advantages of it because of the benefit to me, their customer.  It’s a deliberate manipulation to get me to use the card because it’s easier for the teller to retrieve the account.  There is a suggestions that they provide faster service if they have it.  The last time I went in, I had to offer all kinds of verification since I only had a photo id.  It’s an offering in the guise a service for the benefit of the customer, when they are the ones who benefit the most, because people might be more likely to use it if they are carrying it around.

    I had been thinking about changing insurance companies but the reps attention to my needs and prompt service made me reconsider.  And, since the teller did not go on about the debit card when I said I don’t use it, I don’t dread my next visit to the library so much.  Library workers who listen and pay attention to their patrons, stakeholders, and communities needs are more likely to develop significant relationships, than those who push their agenda upon their patrons, stakeholders and communities.

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