Design away, little librarians

Design and Libraries.  Two things that I am separately interested in and as it turns out that design is actually QUITE important to libraries, especially the kinds I want to work in.

When it comes to outreach and “putting a face” to the library’s web presence, it seems that creative design and implementation are both key elements.  “Whenever I See Your Smiling Face: Low-Tech Ways to Make Technology User-Friendly”, a session at the ONW conference, was a useful one in that it pointed out several somewhat easy ways to make the library in an academic institution a more inviting (both digitally and on a community level) place.  The librarians at my library were the speakers, so it was good to see the reasoning behind much of what we do at the UofO PDX Library and Learning Commons.  The presenters also pointed out several good examples of libraries connecting with their communities in unique ways:

  • Salt Lake City Public Library offers a very user-friendly, interactive interface on their website, a place for community discussion, a special place for teens to get involved through projects and a discussion forum, and is just a beautifully designed site.
  • McPherson College Library used some pop culture and some talented staff members to create this handy Library of the Living Dead: Your Guide to Miller Library at McPherson College.  You can even download the PDF here.
  • Kimbel Library impressed me with their FREAKING AWESOME tutorials to help students navigate the world of academic libraries and writing and speaking.
  • Even simpler ideas, such as OSU’s Book Genie can be a fun way to connect with users and give them an experience that they won’t find on Google.

That last one, the Book Genie, reminded me of a current topic we are discussing in my Collections Development class.  Academic libraries and the need for non-academic reading materials.  Typically, we think of readers’ advisory as something that happens more in public libraries, but as academic information seeking has changed, the physical spaces and digital spaces of libraries continue to fluctuate in response to users habits.  Our collections and our outreach initiatives need to reflect that, and as pointed out here, often do.

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