Category Archives: The Hyperlinked Library

Designing Experiences or Resources?

This comes via David Armano’s Twitter feed. I will be seeing him speak at this year’s IDEA Conference – I can’t wait.

The Kicker Studio piece is good food for thought:

Although Kicker does some of the activities that in a lot of circles would be called “User Experience” or “Experience Design,” it’s my feeling that experiences can’t really be designed. You can only provide the resources for people to have an experience; then it’s the people (users) themselves who create the experience.

People bring all sorts of history, talents, sensibilities, and culture to bear on any engagement with a product or service. People’s culture, needs, desires, behaviors, and motivations are what shape any experience they have with a product. (This is true of all products, by the way, not just ones with a digital component.)

This is what we do at Kicker: make the resources (products and environments) so that people can create their own experiences with them. We don’t design experiences; we design the products that allow for experiences to happen.

“Experience design” is often just a fancy term for what used to be called “creative direction,” meaning oversight to make sure all the pieces of a product fit together. Kicker was created with that sort of oversight baked in: our visual, interaction, and industrial designers work together to create holistic products from the inside-out. (This isn’t to say there is no oversight; there is. But it’s much easier when the disciplines work together from the beginning.)

I agree with Nokia’s Design Manifesto (pdf) when it says, “For a human being the product is not an end in itself but the gateway to a plethora of experiences.” It’s the plethora of experiences that is so important. Design for a single experience (or a single user type) is limiting and can even be crippling for a product. (Which is one reason why personas can be a dangerous crutch.)

So while user experience and experience design are all the rage, we know that experiences are made up of products, services, and environments. Design those well, and the experiences will come.

Think about the services and spaces we design. Are we designing for multiple users? Multiple learning styles? Multiple channels of connection?

On the Learning/Information Commons

I’ve become fascinated with the idea and implementation of the Commons in academic libraries of late. It’s very much part of what I call The Hyperlinked Library. These past few months, I’ve wrote about the commons at ALA TechSource blog. Please take a look if you are interested.

Keys to a Successful Self Check-Out Project

This is GOLD if you are pondering self check, etc: (emphasis mine)

  1. Make it all or nothing. When we made the strategic decision to move to customer self check we removed the option for customers to have staff assist them in checking out materials. We made the decision to replace most of our staff terminals with self check units. I have seen a lot of libraries put up 1 or 2 units, off to the side of the circulation desk, but this is really a losing effort that has no meaningful impact. People are slow to change unless they no longer have a choice and although you may attract curiosity by having a few units available, it will never achieve wide acceptance as long as a staff member is available to help.
  2. Sell the vision to staff. Staff, especially circulation staff, need to understand the reason why you are taking on a self check project. It is not to outsource or eliminate their jobs, it is to empower them to perform other tasks. Another common argument is that customers like to have conversation with staff and that this will go away if self check is implemented. Actually, the opposite happens…staff are now free to have more conversations and can greet the customer in many more locations within buildings then before since they are not “tethered” to a circulation desk.
  3. Sell the vision to customers. Conversely, sell the vision to your customers. There will be a lot of questions and possibly some complaints on why you moved to self service. Take the time to explain to customers the need to operate more efficiently with less money and that staff will have more time to perform other valuable functions. Have staff out in front of your self check units ready to help customers who have questions or problems. Show them the benefits of not having to wait in long lines and how they can quickly process their materials to save time. And above all, have patience. It will take 3 months for the bulk of your customers to become completely comfortable with the system.
Read the whole post!

StoryTubes & Creating Energy

A question came up at the end of my presentation at Batavia Public Library about using new technology and attracting customers to join libraries in that interactive experience. Denise Raleigh from Gail Borden Public Library just happened to be in the audience and she helped answer the question. It was such a great response, I asked her to do a TTW post.


How can we make sure video contests and the like actually are successful?

I can only answer for us.  What we try to do is to make it easy for them to get involved.  Storypalooza 2007 has grown into StoryTubes 2008.  Along with Charlotte/Mecklenberg/Imaginon, Middle Country PLKing County PL and Pasadena PL, we are holding the national 2008 StoryTubes video contest at  It is about kids in grades 1-6 talking about their favorite books in a 2-minute or shorter video.  There are creative, poignant and funny videos already entered and can be watched. What we learned from the 2007 contest is that these videos turn into a online book discussion with kids getting other kids interested in books. To make it easy for kids and parents to enter, we set up a camera in a room in Youth for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon and,  with a parent sign off, we film and enter them.

StoryTubes will create reading energy.  Watch some of the entries.  For pure entertainment, don’t miss one young boy’s review of “The Essential Visual History of the World.” His side comments are a hoot especially as he explains that Napoleon got exiled twice saying “How much can a guy take?.”   “A Light in the Attic” has a big wow factor. Another boy’s review of “Milkweed” makes him appreciate his own home. (By the way, I am not part of the finalist review process).  I am just a storyteller about StoryTubes.  Just think of the potential hugeness of reading energy that would generate if everyone that reads this blog from a public or school library helped just one young person enter.   Entries are due by April 26.  If anyone has questions, please email me at [email protected] or call at 847.429.5981.  Thanks Michael for inviting me to post and for creating enthusiasm about where libraries can go.