…the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Several years ago, I was invited to work with a Swarthmore College alumnus to learn about website user experience and to use what I learned for our library catalog redesign project. The alumnus had offered his time to the College and I happened to be available and interested in a new project. While the redesign project was compelling, the biggest impact for me was the revelation of a new focus in librarianship.

My exposure to the power of observing how users navigate our tools created a deep interest, not only in how users interact with the shared, online tools we provide, like Tripod (our library catalog) and Research Guides, but also in the broader contest of the role of the libraries in the research process.

How do our users approach their research? How do they navigate finding what they seek? How can we best support this process? How do information architecture, web content, writing for the web and web design work together to propel research forward, or alternatively, raise barriers or introduce pain points that get in the way? How do we provide the best environment for discovery? What role do library spaces and services play in the research process?

One of my goals as the Assessment and User Experience Librarian @ Swarthmore is to communicate regularly about what I’ve learned from user experience and assessment projects. I’d like to share our practices for user research, be able to demonstrate why it’s important and what impact it has on our systems and spaces.

To close my first post, I’ll share the graphic, below, created by library UX practitioner Andy Priestner and first unveiled at his talk at the 2017 UX in Libraries conference in Glasgow. For additional fun, you may follow the prompts at this site created by another library UX practitioner, Vernon Fowler, and score where you think your library falls on these continua. For even more fun, try it as a group and talk about where you would place your library.