This issue of OLA Quarterly is about the state of user experience efforts in Oregon. This collection of excellent articles not only emphasizes the importance of including the users in the design process, but they also stress the importance of actually including users at all! After reading these submissions, I hope that you will see that Oregon libraries value the opinions of their users and are user focused.
In recent years, UX research has become more commonplace in libraries across the country. This is a good thing. The downside is that UX has become synonymous with the user interface. However, the user experience is more than just a human-computer interaction. The user’s experience encompasses the whole experience a user has with the library, whether that be while searching the library catalog for a book, retrieving the book from the stacks, or checking the book out. The user experience is not a single interaction, but rather a series of micro interactions. As a user moves across “interfaces,” she is constantly faced with challenges that she must navigate to complete her task successfully. To me, our job as librarians is to make those smaller interactions as fluid and unhindered as possible—in a word, seamless.
As librarians, we are entrusted with the overall experience that our patrons have with the library. And this caring for the experience is not just limited to user experience or web services librarians; it is a task all librarians and library staff should participate in and contribute to. Libraries are tightly coupled systems. They are essentially systems, both cultural and virtual, nested within systems that are dependent upon each other. As we alter the input for one system, we more than likely affect another system farther downstream. As a result, it is essential for all library employees to take an interest in the user experience and listen to our patrons. It is important to take a systems level approach to our work and the user experience. Our patrons are the reason our libraries exist. As our patrons evolve, so must our services and service delivery model. As such, we should work to understand current needs and expectations to make the best possible user experience.
UX in Oregon Libraries.
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