UX is Brand is UX is Brand is UX

We’ve been working with the fantabulous Aaron Schmidt for 9 months now – and we just birthed this baby.  This letter to our users represents a TON of thoughtful conversations, deliberation and iteration, and just plain hard work by our staff here at CHPL.  Couldn’t be prouder of what we are doing with and for the great community we serve.

 

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Dear Chapel Hill,

Every time you interact with us, the experience should be simple, satisfying, and delightful.  Lately, we’ve been making a lot of changes to help meet this goal – whether you walk through the door, visit us on the web, or call us on the phone.

As part of an ongoing user experience improvement project, we moved the magazines upstairs, shifted the holds shelves, interfiled paperbacks, redesigned telephone systems, and much, much more – all in the name of improving your library experience.

Behind the scenes

Not all of the changes have been visible.  Behind the scenes, we’ve been asking ourselves and our community big questions like What is our purpose?  What do we value most?  What promise do we make to our community? Those questions led to great conversations and to new foundational statements that guide all we do and convey the promise that we make to you:

Our Mission           

Sparking Curiosity. Inspiring Learning. Creating Connections.

Our Values

Opportunity, Hospitality, Stewardship.  

Our Service Pledge

You are our top priority.

Fulfilling the promise

So how do we fulfill that promise?  With our collections, services, programs, and spaces.  When you approach the desk or post to our Facebook page.  In our posters, library cards, signs, and more. To help us communicate that promise, we developed a new logo to reflect our new mission.

You’ll start to see the logo in all kinds of places – in the building, in emails like this, and on posters and stickers.  We aren’t throwing out all the old stuff, just phasing in the new look.  We used gift funds to pay for the logo design and we will use gift funds to purchase some giveaway items that feature it.

What’s next?

More improvements.  Later this month, based on what we’ve learned in the user experience improvement project, we will launch a new website and reconfigure some of our stacks and service points.

It might be a little noisy and confusing while we do these things but the end result will make your library experience more simple, satisfying, and delightful. We promise.

Susan Brown
Director

P.S. Here’s a little more about our Mission, Values, and Service Pledge:

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Designing for Dementia (and ALL)

I’m far from a UX expert, but I am learning more and more all the time, thanks in large part to working with Aaron Schmidt over the past year.  Here’s the thing about UX – once you know it, you can’t unknow it.  Once you see it one place, you see it in all the places. Like Mojo Nixon once said of Elvis, “UX is everywhere, man.”

Here’s a recent example:

This week, staff at Chapel Hill Public Library have had training sessions on how to best serve users facing dementia.  Sponsored by Dementia Friendly Orange County, a non-profit whose goal is “to raise awareness and make life better for people with dementia and those who care for them.”  Their new initiative is to train local businesses and organizations about ways to recognize and serve people facing dementia, leading to a “Dementia-Friendly Business” certification.

To help staff understand what’s going on with users facing dementia, the quote that was repeated throughout the session was “They aren’t giving you a hard time.  They are having a hard time.” The trainers stressed that if you find yourself interacting with a user who is facing dementia, remember this to help you empathize, strategize, and ultimately help them.

 

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As soon as I heard this statement, I thought, “If you find yourself interacting with ANY user, remember this to help you empathize, strategize, and ultimately help them.”

Sure, there are a few folks out there whose sole purpose is to give you a hard time.  I’d argue that they are rare.  Most people want to have a successful outcome and genuinely accept help, but they are often having a hard time.  As I’ve learned through working with Mr. Schmidt and garnering some basic UX skills, that hard time is often caused by policies, procedures, places, and spaces that were not designed with the user in mind.

Here are a few more slides from the training about working with folks facing dementia.  I think these are good ideas for working with all the folks:

dementia one

Patience, respect, and dignity for all.  Simplicity in interactions and information.  Yes, please.

dementia two

Helpful attitudes, easy signs, and simple options.  Sign me up.

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Use jargon-free communication?  Monitor body language and tone of voice?  Be patient and flexible?  Let’s do that with all the people, okay?

You can find the training video here and more about the Dementia Friendly Movement here.

#LibraryProblems

You’re probably familiar with the popular site Librarian Problems and the hashtag #librarianprblms.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about LIBRARY problems.  The essential question I’ve been asking when faced with an issue to address, a decision to make, a resource to allocate, or a problem to solve is this:

Are we solving a library problem? Or are we helping solve a community problem?

At CHPL, we’ve had the great good fortune to work with Aaron Schmidt on a year-long LSTA grant to assess and improve the user experience on all fronts. It’s transformative work that will have an impact long after the grant cycle ends.  In one of our earliest workshops with him, he brought up this idea and it has stuck with me.  I can’t even recall the context or the slide from the slide deck, but the message was this – Let’s make sure we are solving a community problem and not a library problem.

library problems

It’s simple, right?  This is the essence of the business we are in, right?  We are problem solvers!  Whether helping a job seeker with a resume, a student finish a project, or making our space available for free tax help, we solve problems for and with our users and communities.

However, sometimes we lose perspective on the problem that needs solving.  Sometimes we get overly invested in solving problems of our own creation and we forget to ask the essential question – “Whose problem is this?”

Here are a few refrains I often hear:

  • “How can we increase program attendance?”
  • “We have to get our circ numbers up.”
  • “How can we get more people to use the databases we pay so much for?”

I think that these are all library problems.  Libraries do something – plan a program, acquire materials, subscribe to databases – and then solve the problems that arise from those things.  The solution to these problems isn’t a better program flyer or more displays or ordering promotional materials from the database vendor.   Continue reading “#LibraryProblems”

50 Shades of Change

I have never been change-averse.  Over the course of my career, I have taken the Change Style Indicator several times.  It’s an assessment tool that measures a person’s preferred style in approaching, addressing, and managing change.  Your score puts you somewhere on the change style spectrum of Conserver, Pragmatist, or Originator:

Conservers are cautious, deliberate, and prefer incremental change that does not significantly disrupt the existing structure or system.  They may appear resistant to change but they are also thoughtful about all the details and consequences.

Pragmatists are open to necessary, functional change and help facilitate it  by listening, mediating, planning, and carefully considering all of the issues as they seek common ground.  They are the practical project managers who actually make the change happen.

Originators are the disruptors with big ideas and a high tolerance for risk.  They prefer change that is fast and radical and paradigm-shifting.  They may appear to be unfocused, unorganized, and undisciplined, but they are more focused on the big, unconventional ideas than the details that surround them.

Seemingly unfocused, unorganized, and undisciplined?  Check, check, and check.  I have taken the assessment three times over the past 8-10 years and each time, I move even further along the Originator end of the spectrum.  Last summer, as part of a Leadership Institute, I took it again and actually maxed out my score.  Does that make me better or worse than others who are more conservative or pragmatic about change?  Nope.   Continue reading “50 Shades of Change”

Rethinking the Rules of Behavior: Part 2

“A policy is a deliberate system of principles to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes.”

Wikipedia 

Last week, I wrote about how we ditched the rules and came up with a set of Expectations for Behavior at Chapel Hill Public Library.  This approach represented a pretty radical departure – both in the wording of the policy and the mindset at its foundation – so we knew that engaging staff on this approach would be critical to success.  Here are some of the ways we did that:

We made it easy.

We created a three question test to use when faced with a situation:

Is the situation at hand illegal?

Is it unsafe?

Is it making others uncomfortable?

If the answer is yes, then staff should act.  They don’t have to remember all the words of the policy, just these three measures to apply.   Continue reading “Rethinking the Rules of Behavior: Part 2”

Rethinking the Rules of Behavior: Part 1

“We’ll work it out as we go along. Let our practice form our doctrine, thus assuring precise theoretical coherence.”                       

 – Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang

No running.  No stealing. No smoking. No staring at staff.  No rearranging furniture.  No interfering with the free movement of any person.  These were just a few of the 21 specific, line-itemed behaviors prohibited in the old Rules of Behavior at Chapel Hill Public Library.  You can hop in the Wayback Machine to see the full list and the old policy here.

It might look familiar, as lots of libraries approach patron behavior in this manner.  The policy may have started out with just a few things called out, but over the years, as someone did something that wasn’t on the list, it got added to the list – that’s the Monkey Wrench Gang approach mentioned above.

That’s also how things like “Harassing staff or patrons, including but not limited to staring at or following individuals around the building.” ended up on the list.  That’s also how the default staff response became “What’s our policy on staring?” instead of a response that deals with the person and the situation first and responds accordingly.  This policy approach isn’t necessarily bad, but it wasn’t working for us.   Continue reading “Rethinking the Rules of Behavior: Part 1”

What You Say AND How You Say It, Part 1: Consider the Job Ad

“Words are important.”  This is a phrase I’ve uttered many, many times – both in my previous position as Marketing Director and my current position as Library Director. Whether we are using words to demonstrate the promise of our brand or choosing words to describe our strategic direction, words matter.  This will be the first in a series of posts that illustrates that it’s not just about what we say, it’s also about how we say it.

words have power

Let’s consider the job ad.  Here are a few that might sound familiar:

Public Services Manager, Any Town Public Library (ATPL)

A highly responsible professional administrative position, the Public Services Manager will be a part of the ATPL  Leadership Team and coordinates the work of the Public Services Department, including but not limited to: reference, readers’ advisory, programming, circulation, outreach, and services for teens, adult, and seniors. The Manager supervises departmental subordinate supervisors and other employees, determines work schedules, recommends personnel actions…

Library Director,  Any Town Public Library (ATPL)

Under guidance and direction of the Board, the Library Director performs administrative, supervisory and professional work in planning and delivering library services. Implements Board policies and recommendations; manages  the daily operations  of the library; hires, trains,  and supervises staff; oversees library collection; prepares annual budget and associated financial reports, compiles monthly and annual statistics…

Sound familiar?  In a certain sense, there’s nothing wrong with these ads – they most likely served their purpose. ATPL probably hired people into both of these positions.

Continue reading “What You Say AND How You Say It, Part 1: Consider the Job Ad”