Thursday, January 17, 2008

Check out the Design Thinking article by Steven J. Bell in the January/February 2008 issue of American Libraries. I found a link to the full-text of the article on the author's blog, if you don't subscribe to the journal:
The author reminds us to keep the user experience in mind, and uses the example of coffee (a commodity). By adding service and the experience (wireless access, live bands, gourmet food), the coffee turns into something that people will pay top price per cup just to get the entire user experience. Adding memorable service to the library experience could improve each user's experience. After all, sometimes we are still dispelling the bad memories of our patron's 2nd grade librarian, or their association of the library with term papers (and they hated term papers), or the last time they were in our library and didn't find what they were looking for, feeling ineffective and clumsy as they searched in vain.
"User experience" also fits what James Earl Jones was talking about as the character Terrance Mann in the movie, Field of Dreams, when he explains why people will line up and pay to come to a baseball field in Iowa: "Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray." I wonder if we could get Mr. Jones to recite that passage with some changes for the next PSA for libraries? Maybe something like: "...for it is money they have and information they lack..."
Going back to the coffee shop experience. I mentioned a new t-shirt idea for Library Week yesterday to a few of the librarians I work with and the circulation staff members, and received very different responses. The t-shirt would say in a great font: Barista of information. The librarians pretty much all disliked the idea, saying that we do so much more. But those that serve the patrons the most, the circulation staff, loved the idea, and said the patrons would "get it". Librarians outside academic libraries "got it", too. Interesting. Maybe since I started out in libraries as a work-study in the Circulation Dept., I liked the idea, seeing the phrase "barista of information" as a bridge, not an all-encompassing descriptor. I don't know if we will ever have one phrase that will show the length and breadth that we do as librarians - I can't even explain all of what I do to my relatives over the holiday visits. But 'barista of information' - it does have a ring to it.
(This is my 500th post on this blog. I hope they have all been valuable to you, and I look forward to posting more in the years ahead.)

1 comment:

Siobhan said...

The whole concept of coffee shops really fits libraries. There is the concept of coffee shops as a place, but then there are different companies that have taken that concept and made them appealing to different people. Dunkin Donuts versus Starbucks. And even with a city, there can be several types of coffee shops that prosper because people want different things from their coffee shop. Now, go in an replace library in all those coffee shop references and you can see how libraries function differently around the concept of information, and we need to be sure we appeal to the people in our communities and see that they have access to the information shop of their choice.