Om the library

Posted on behalf of Jenifer Baldwin
Somewhere along the way in these discussions of ideas and means of capturing ideas I thought it would be a good idea to offer yoga in the library, as a means for students (and staff!) to de-stress, especially during peak times of the semester.  Rick Lezenby recently went to an HR seminar on meditation and he found it well done.  He suggested that since the person who conducted this seminar (a certified yoga instructor) is already in Temple’s employ they might be a good candidate to contact for the yoga-in-the-library (biblio-asana?) idea.

Idea Me

I received several responses to my call for Idea Book entries. I was happy to receive responses from a variety of library staff, including a student worker, part-time Reference and Instruction Librarian and an Administrator.

Idea Book at Student Tech Assistant Desk
I taped a Book to the shared Student Tech Assistants’ desk and asked the students to write down their suggestions for improving the library. Above, you can see our student assistant, Leigh Cignavitch, illustrates suggestions for improving access, usability and maintenance of the printers.

Below are some suggestions from a part-time Reference and Instruction Librarian, who spends a great deal of time answering reference questions either in person at the Reference Desk or online via chat reference. 

1. Make ebooks easier to find and access in the catalog. Right now, it is not obvious at all in the catalog record where one needs to go in order to open the ebook.

2. Create a clearer distinction for patrons between Reference and Circulation Desks. Maybe replacing the “Ask Here” signs with signs that say “Research Help.” Carnegie Public Libraries label their circulation desks as “Customer Service” desks. This needs to be addressed on virtual chat as well.

3. Guest users need to be able to receive cash refunds from printers and copiers. Business Office only issues refunds to ID cards (obvious problem for guests). Maybe we should have a petty cash fund for this.

More ideas:



Now, what did I do with that idea?

Do you have an idea? You probably do, because coming up with ideas is easy. Ideas happen all the time. Anyone can have an idea. And when you have one, you don’t need to worry about whether or not it’s a good idea or a bad idea, if it’s important or valuable, if it’s smart or idiotic, if it’s practical or unrealistic. All you have to do is make sure you capture it. You never know when you’re going to have an idea, need an idea or what kind of idea might work for which situation, so you want to have a log of ideas to refer to whenever an idea depleted situation arises.

What is an idea? Ideas are solutions to problems. Ideas are thoughts of inspiration. Ideas are deal makers, and, of course, deal breakers. Ideas are catalysts, questions, improvements, complaints, intentions and observations. Ideas are also easily forgotten and often thrown away. Therefore, since ideas are so valuable, yet so easily tossed aside or forgotten, keeping track of them is important.

How do you capture an idea? The easiest way to capture an idea is to write it down. It’s pretty simple. Whenever you think of something, observe something or hear something, you just pull out a writing utensil and jot it down. At the Public Services Retreat Follow-up Meeting held in January, Steven Bell introduced the ‘Idea Book’ to Temple Libraries. The intention of the Idea Book is to provide a place for staff and students at Temple Libraries to capture their ideas about enhancing the service and experience of the libraries. The important concept to remember about using the Idea Book is that everything is acceptable. Remember that all ideas are valuable and that one idea can lead to another; and, it’s not until you see your idea in writing – think it out loud – and share it with others that you can then assess which idea is usable for the moment. 


 Here are some helpful tips on the types of things you could put in your Idea Book:

  • Things you get ideas from when you listen to library users (e.g., complaints, questions, etc.)
  • Things you observe by watching library users, particularly things they are doing in the library that are unexpected
  • Things that are broken
  • Anything library related

Here are some ideas I had recently. While I was sitting at the reference desk the other day, I thought about the types of questions we get regularly and the kinds of issues that arise at the desk. I decided to jot down some ideas about “Reminders” we could post at or near the reference desk to help patrons navigate the library or better acquaint themselves with the library. The first two ideas were more for the staff’s benefit and piece of mind, but helpful tips for patrons, nonetheless.



What ideas do you have about enhancing user experience at Temple Libraries? 

Sharing Two Useful Readings on Customer Service and UX

A great way to learn more about user experience and how to apply it in practical settings is to delve into the abundant literature that is available on the Internet. There are many essays and blog posts on the subject – as there are lots of “experts” sharing their perspectives. In this post I would like to suggest two such readings – and a bonus reading for those who want to go a little farther.

A good starting point is the “User Experience White Paper“. It’s somewhat generic and broad, but it should provide a broad overview of what we mean by user experience, both as a phenomenon and a practice. The authors write that “the term user experience is widely used but understood in many different ways…There is no one definition that suits all perspectives.” So true. Even the list of what UX is not is helpful especially that “UX is not technology driven, but focuses on humans.” Even more true.

While it’s a bit heavy on the business orientation, it is worth taking a look at “7 Principles of Extraordinary Customer Experiences.” I think there may be something to principle number 5: Make it easy for your customers to strike up conversations, communicate with one another, and share information. It’s a challenge but are there ways we could get our community members to talk with each other about their research projects and their challenges. And how would we incorporate principle number 7 into our practice?: The key to delivering an extraordinary customer experience is placing the customer at the center your marketing strategy—through content that educates, inspires and connects in whatever medium and through whatever channels your customers live. That seems to be close to what we try to accomplish.

If you want to go beyond these two readings, a longer and more involved discussion of user experience can be found at “User Experience and Experience Design” by Marc Hassenzahl. It’s billed as a chapter in an encyclopedia, but I’m not sure which one that is. If you decide to take this one on be sure to look at the comments as well.

Library Staff Join for a Retreat Follow-Up

On January 14, 2011 staff members from various departments gather in the Paley Library lecture hall for the first follow-up to the July 2010 Public Services Retreat. Approximately 25 staff gathered for the meeting. There were four activities duirng the meeting.


First, we heard three lightning talks. A lighting talk is a very fast presentation. Each presenter was allowed only 4 minutes for their presentation. We heard from:

* John Pell – Negative Closure: Strategies and Counter-Strategies in the Reference Transaction

* Kathy Lehman – What is a Guest

* Rick Lezenby – A Complaint is a Gift: Recovering Customer Loyalty When Things Go Wrong

All three of the lightning talks were excellent and lead to some questions and good dicussion.

Next the group viewed a 15 minute video in which Joe Michelli, a user experience expert and author of books about the user experience at Starbucks, Ritz Carlton and other businesses, discussed how libraries can develop a unique user experience. He focused on something called the “Experiential Brand Statement” which basically states what type of experience is delivered. If you want to review the video or watch it for the first time you will find it here.

For the third activity the attendees organized into small groups and review a set of “next steps” from the first retreat. That is, what actions were recommended as next steps to follow up on the retreat and to keep the momentum going. Here were the top suggestions for what our next steps should be:

* Create a blog where staff can share their ideas related to customer service, user experience or retreat ideas (thus – this blog)

* Have occasional one hour meeting to discuss service issues, watch a related video or hear from a Skype speaker

* Appoint a “Broken Things Czar” who is tasked with identifying or collecting information about things that are not working and to work on getting them corrected

* Continue discussions about cross-training with the goal of making sure library users are never more than one person away from getting what they need

* Keep the discussion going on “How do we find out what the users want?”

For the fourth and final activity, Steven Bell introduced the “Capture Your Ideas” Project. To get started we watched this short video about the importance of writing down good ideas when you get them:

After watching the video, everyone received their own personal copy of a notebook for recording their great ideas. Here is a photo of the notebook:


Everyone will focus on ideas in three areas:
* Things you get ideas from when you listen to library users (e.g., complaints, questions, etc.)
* Things you observe by watching library users, particularly things they are doing in the library that are unexpected * Things that are broken
* Any general library-related ideas

At a future meeting we will bring and notebooks and share our ideas. If you didn’t get a copy of the notebook, but would like to obtain one, please contact Steven Bell. It didn’t take very long for the first idea to emerge. Kathy Lehman and Melanija Borlja recommended that we provide some of our student workers with idea notebooks so that they too could be a part of the project – and they are often the ones who observe and hear student behavior in public service areas. The retreat follow-up provided a good opportunity to keep the spirit of the first public services retreat alive in the library. Many thanks to all those who helped to plan the retreat follow-up and to everyone who particiapted. Be on the lookout for an evaluation survey.

Welcome to the TULibrary Experience Blog

On Friday, January 14, 2011 staff members gathered for the first follow-up meeting to the Public Services retreat held in July 2010. The meeting included lightning talks, a video viewing and discussion, a “next steps” discussion and the “Capture Your Ideas” project.

During the “next steps” activity the group identified several top options for how to keep our retreat discussions going and allow staff to engage in that discussion. One of the preferred next steps was to create a blog specifically for the public services retreat discussion and topics. That discussion resulted in the creation of this blog.

All staff are invited to participate in the TULibrary Experience Blog. Any staff member may add content on a topic related to the public retreat (and follow-up) conversations on user experience, customer service and service models. Share reflections, ideas, links to readings, etc.

If you already have an account for adding content to any TUL blog (e.g., TULibraries Insider Blog) you should see this new blog under your blog options. If not, let Steven Bell know and he will follow up on getting an account set up for you.

Enjoy the TULibrary Experience Blog. Let’s use it to create a better library experience for the Temple University community.