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  • valarie907 10:43 pm on July 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: journey map, , touchpoints   

    Library Journey Maps 

    Not a Postal Box! by M. Gifford via Flickr CC

    photo by M. Gifford via Flickr CC  (this it isn’t the dropbox at my library)

    Library programming often gets a lot of attention, but everyday tasks have the potential be frustrating and hinder library experiences.  These tasks can include everything between getting to the library, parking, entering the library, locating items to leaving the library and everything in between.  Mapping out common events is a great way to identify pain points and improve how patrons accomplish library tasks and goals.

    Realistic Journey Map:  Returning a DVD after hours

    I’m usually in a rush and often run as many errands as I can after hours.  This scenario happens a lot to me.

    1. Prepare items to return to the library
    2. Drive to the library
    3. Park on the side
    4. Get out of car and run around to the drop box
    5. Put items in dropbox…but, wait, this one is a DVD, which says Do Not Put in the Dropbox.  Bummer.
    6. Take it home, to try to remember to return it the next day and hopefully avoid accruing late fees.

    Not being able to return DVDs is a major painpoint for people who are strapped for time or need to return their items after hours.  I can go to the library when it is open, but the limited hours from 11 am – 6 pm prevents people who work during those hours from using the library features that are not available after hours.

    Realistic Journey Map:  Returning a DVD after hours

    1. Prepare items to return to the library
    2. Drive to the library
    3. Park on the side
    4. Get out of car and run around to the drop box
    5. Put items in dropbox, including DVDs because we can now leave them in the dropbox

    The solution is simple…allow people to return their DVDs in the dropbox…which may or may not happen.  What I can do is to conduct a journey map project for my library so we can address the painpoints and streamline services for our library patrons.


    Schmidt, A. (2012). Stepping out of the library: The user experience. The Library Journal. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2012/03/opinion/aaron-schmidt/stepping-out-of-the-library-the-user-experience/


    • pmartin 5:10 am on July 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I wonder if the library doesn’t want DVDs in the drop box because they get damaged. I think I’d put them through the slot anyways, but maybe with an elastic band around the case so it doesn’t open. Good drop boxes have a “spring-loaded” landing surface that accommodates load and prevents huge drops to the bottom.

      • valarie907 10:29 pm on July 25, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for your comment, Pam! I think that was the initial reason for the policy…especially when the temperature drops in the winter. What I probably didn’t clarify is that the dropbox is no longer outside and I don’t think the risk of damage is all that great anymore with the new internal drop. I could be wrong…I’ll ask someday. While writing the post, the thought occurred to me that it would be nice to have another dropbox in town…somewhere convenient for people who don’t want to come all the way into town, but I would think that people would have to be able to drop off all items for it to work.

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

    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! =)

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