LIS 60647: Mod 10

As our textbook states “The history of libraries is a story of technology”, from the way manuscripts were created by scribes to printing presses, organization and indexing to personal computers and accessible systems for staff and patrons the technology in libraries is the basis for growth in the field. Allowing for flexible environments based on the current technology needs of users (wifi, electronic periodicals, pcs, etc.) allows libraries to continue to stay relevant even when people say “books are dying”. This focus on adaptability and staying on the edge of emerging technology while focusing on user needs is the basis of many leaders in the field.

Ranganathan is considered the father of library science in India and formulated the five laws of library science. These five laws, written in the 1930’s are seemingly simple, but they are still relevant to this day. Many of the laws consider the growing technology of the library and focus on the user.

https://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/s-r-ranganathan-the-five-laws-of-library-science/

-This link provides a quick recap of the rules.

Focusing on user needs, how to easily access these materials and how to grow a library with technology that makes things simpler, not more difficult for the user are the primary goals of library staff. Focusing on the future and what technology to implement versus what technology to avoid is an important aspect to look at among the rules. The rules warn against obtaining popular technology that actually takes more staff time and wastes patron time because it is so complicated or difficult to learn. Utilizing technology and automation in smart ways that save staff time in turn helps save patron time. This type of automation can be seen successfully helping users with automation in circulation functions and the acquisitions department where the workflow informs how quickly (or not) the patron can access an item. Acquisitions greatly benefits from technology advances that reduces workflow redundancies and duplicate work. The ILS that communicates well with vendors can get materials approved, ordered, shipped, cataloged and on the shelf much more quickly allowing access for patrons more quickly than ever before.

Accessibility is a huge issue for libraries, as the Digital Public Library YouTube video states the financial investment required to acquire access to online periodicals is growing rapidly at about 4x the rate of inflation. Libraries must get creative with budgeting and fundraising to help bridge the gap to allow access for patrons to these materials. Acquisitions needs to look at redundancies in access across databases and data from systems to determine what users are actually accessing and using. Staff must help educate patrons on how to access materials and if they have remote access marketing must highlight this. The Digital Public Library is an online collective that creates an open, all access library for all with 100% digital materials. Resources like this one help promote the relevancy of the library in a digital and Google age.

Libraries currently offer users what Google and the internet cannot, people to help, access to a computer and wifi and trained search strategies. What happens when the services and resources available digitally match this? The textbook discusses the Googlezon phenomenon where Amazon and Google team together to form a conglomerate that focuses on individualized news, information and events just for you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AT9ho2G0N_Y

Science fiction or library science fact? I agree with this model in a user focused information model. Buy what users want and actually use. I personally think users will always have a need for assistance. Does this have to be in person assistance? Probably not. As users become more and more comfortable with computers there are so many ways to connect with users without actually having to see them in person. Assisting with the access and retrieval of resources whether these materials are owned by the library or part of an open database or website will be something librarians will continue to be part of. With the rapid increase of information and a flood of free resources available to anyone with a computer and internet connection comes complications in searching for relevant information. A Google search may return hundreds of thousands of results, but are these what the user is looking for, do these give the user relevant information, are the sources accurate? These are skills librarians hold in their tool belt that can be difficult for an algorithm to recreate.

Focusing on purchases of technology and collections that match the user base and help keep the organization relevant in the community will continue to grow libraries. The five rules of library science by Ranganathan, while written over 80 years ago, still rings true today and can help us keep our focus on what matters: the patrons we serve (in person or virtually).

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LIS 60647: Mod 9

Wow this semester has flown by! This week we looked at the environment and needs that support the technology within the library. Thinking about the physical environment that supports the technology needs of users sounds simple enough, but requires some research on the staff side to discover what infrastructure details are missing to support the technology and in turn support our users.

The textbook discusses the physical considerations of the space: furniture, outlet placement, lighting, room layout etc. This all may sound simple enough, but paying attention to the fine details will make or break a space. Here at UNLV we have conducted several space studies for our users to determine where to get the most bang for our buck with enhancement projects. The space studies included time lapse photos, staff observations, service desk tracker data, etc. The team discovered many things that needed to be addressed in our young building that was first opened in 2001. Students sit on the floor and move very large, heavy, wooden furniture around based on outlet locations. The lack of power and flexible seating became a huge concern. The team hired construction and design firms to address these issues. We now have soft, light, movable furniture that can be adjusted for the needs of patrons. Electricians are working on moving more power and data throughout the building and our designer brought in hundreds of pieces of furniture with power outlets built right in.

In the late 1990’s when the building was first designed and construction was underway the designers had no idea that the boom of portable electronics and the need for 10x the amount of power outlets would become so necessary for our students. Our population for the most part commutes to campus and spends quite a bit of time camped out in the library between classes. The need for power outlets to charge cell phones, tablets and laptops is immense. Adding this power and the ability to move furniture closer to outlets is something that seems so simple has made a huge impact. We no longer are receiving endless complaints about the lack of functioning outlets at the service points and students are not crouched on the floor waiting for their iPhone to get some juice before class. Researching the needs of users then putting in the necessary updates to the physical space helps meet the technology needs of our users.

Writing a technology plan that meets the needs of users and plans for the future of technology is necessary in ensuring the relevancy of the library. Planning technology budgets far in advance based on observed needs helps the organization budget funds properly and keep the numbers out of the red. The last step suggested by the textbook is to evaluate the technology on the floor after it has been purchased. Is the technology meeting the needs of users? Are users actually using it? Accessing the success (or failure) of a new technology purchase is a fundamental step that I think many organizations fail to complete. I am curious if my institution evaluates our current technology or new technology after it has been purchased and placed out on the floor. We recently purchased a small amount of Apple iPads to test check outs at the circulation desk. We will have the students complete a short survey when they return the item to see what they used the tablet for, if it met their needs and what if anything could help them with assignments. I am excited to see this data because many other schools in our region have tried a robust tablet check out program that has failed miserably. We hope to find out what students are using the tablets for and if programs or applications can be added to make for a richer experience using the iPads. I think the major downfall of the tablet checkouts will be lack of printing, since currently we only support printing from a linked pc or laptop.

Supporting the physical space of the library through technology and needs assessment ensures the library will continue to be a “go to” resource for community users, students and staff.

IAKM 60114: Mod 3 Part 1

We are nearing the end of the course and have focused in on eyetracking and usability. Through the reading and videos I learned what equipment is used and how to set it up. I was surprised by the Tobbii eyetracking technology because I assumed it was something large and not so mobile or flexible to use while conducting an eyetracking usability study.

I work as a library technician at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and we have a saying at the circulation desk, “people don’t read”. Our patrons are running around focused on other things and do not read signs (this is why we don’t post any) and sometimes do not listen to instructions. The textbook reading hit the nail on the head when the author discussed the way people look, but don’t necessary process like the example when you are looking in the fridge for the ketchup and don’t actually “see” the ketchup bottle even though your eyes did actually look at the bottle. I find this phenomenon fascinating and I am excited to learn more as the week progresses with my understanding of the results of the heat maps and provided data regarding the library page.

IAKM 60114: Module 2 part 2

The past two weeks were devoted to creating a mobile testing environment in an existing lab set up. Because mobile usability is so important to a company’s livelihood now that the vast majority of customers are visiting the site via mobile means they must take into account the way users access the website to ensure users are able to complete transactions and find company information easily and accurately from a cell phone or tablet.

I discovered usability testing for the mobile environment isn’t as straightforward as usability testing for a regular computer or a laptop. You have to take into consideration the different gestures, the different environments and the different pressures that may be put on a mobile user. The user may be in bright light, in a rush or unsure of the gestures required to use a specific website. Creating the means of capturing the mobile screen, gestures and facial expressions during testing isn’t easy. I followed the ingenuity of our readings and opted for a chip clip and rubber bands to tie my two cameras feeds together in an effort to capture as much information as I could in a mock mobile usability lab.

This assignment allowed for creativity and practice with professional writing with a detailed executive summary and report on our set up for a mobile usability lab.

LIS 60647: Module 8

This week we looked at the multiple ways libraries can utilize technology to protect patrons and resources. Protecting patrons’ personal information from identity theft through malware or viruses while on public computers is a feat that many libraries are struggling with. Protecting the library technology is also important to help save money and keep patrons safe from unprotected computers.

Libraries must team with in house technical teams and campus wide offices of technology to help keep technology policy up to date. A library or campus wide computing policy is a good way to handle cyber crime and attacks (purposeful or not) on the technology and patron data. Recently we had a cyber crimes incident in the library I work at. Thankfully because of our written policy and standard operating procedures the person was referred to campus policy and the computer was taken for investigation. Had effective surveillance, security and alert procedures not been in place what could the library have done? The textbook and reading discuses many ways to keep the library and our patrons safe with high tech options as well as low budget, person focused ways to prevent intentional and un-intentional attacks on hardware, software and data. Written policy that is communicated to patrons is the first step. Updating hardware with the current software is the next and providing professional development to IT professionals who handle the malware defense is a great way to ensure the library stays on the defensive to protect resources and data.

In addition to professional development the careful task of purchasing security technology for the library on any budget helps protect people and resources. RFID tags and metallic “tattle tape” are two options for securing library materials and alerting staff if an item is taken out of the library without being properly checked out. The system costs for 3M workstations, security gates and RFID tag creators, readers and self check machines are costly. The library needs to weigh the pros and cons of these systems and determine if the initial cost will benefit their budget in the long run. RFID tags provide an easy way to complete inventory and quickly and accurately check out materials to patrons. RFID tags contain data regarding the book and can be desensitized upon check out by staff or a self check out machine. Our library ran into budget constraints in 2009 and decided to no longer purchase RFID tags for new collections, this was an easy money saver at the time because the library was paying approximately $2 per tag, with almost 2 million volumes the savings would add up quickly. Then in 2012 when the library finally ran out of tags and books were coming to the self check out machine or to the circulation desk there were some issues that arose. We had to purchase separate sensitizers at $1500 a piece for each workstation to re-sensitize the tattle tape in items without RFID tags, our stacks manager had to purchase separate inventory devices and complete inventory by pulling books off the shelf to scan the barcodes instead of running a wand across the entire shelf and we had to put four 3M self check machines in storage because patrons could no longer successfully check out materials on their own as the machines could not handle items with out tags.

http://www.rfidjournal.com/faq/show?85

Looking at the long-range budget plans should be priority when attempted to secure library technology and resources. Planning for the future of technology and patrons’ needs ensures tight library budgets are not going to waste. Preparing written policy and informing staff and patrons of the policy and the standard operating procedures allows the library to ensure safety of data and library hardware.

IAKM 60114: Mobile Designs and Usability Studies

This week we began researching the needs of mobile users and some ways usability experts have worked on designs for testing websites and interfaces on mobile devices. Because usability testing and gesture capturing on mobile devices is so different from capturing computer screens moderators have created some innovative ways to capture the movements of users on webcams and even resorted to household chip clips to cement their designs. The importance of usability testing for mobile designs has rapidly increased with the decline of personal computers. Gartner’s projects a 7.3% decrease in personal computer sales through 2017 (1.). Many access the internet through mobile means because it is convenient for them while others access the internet through a mobile device because they cannot afford a luxury item like a laptop or pc.

As I design my mobile usability lab set up and capture method I have to think of gesturing and how best to view a participants movements as they navigate a website. I found one of the provided resources interesting because UXD’ers act as if this is common knowledge, but the websites I go to on my tiny iPhone 4 screen in no way follow these design principles (2.). UXmag discusses the common gestures, the size of click ability and the thumb range that is appropriate for most websites. I find many websites do the exact opposite and have the navigation up top like a traditional desktop version of the website would have. Testing the mobile usability and following through with a design based on the recorded data is the first step in ensuring you have satisfied customers who are able to complete transactions via their phone or tablet.

  1. http://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckjones/2013/04/05/gartner-survey-showing-declining-pcs-increasing-mobile-devices-through-2017/
  2. http://uxmag.com/articles/excerpt-from-the-new-book-the-mobile-frontier

LIS 60647: Week 7

This week we looked at materials relating to digital reference and providing access through digital means to provide good customer service to our patrons. Website usability and ease of access is an important goal of web designers and content providers. Software like Drupal allows staff to update and manage website content in real time without web design staff intervention. Allowing staff to update the website in an easy way ensures the content is up to date for patrons and gives staff control over their areas of expertise. Providing remote access to online databases through a proxy or vpn is another consideration libraries must ensure functions correctly and allows patrons to easily connect to resources from the comfort of their home or office. Offering remote access set up virtually is a great way to help patrons gain access to library materials even when the library is closed and circulation staff are unavailable. An important point the textbook points out is that designers need to think about how patrons are accessing the website and what different resources will they be looking for when the access the website from the library, from home or on a mobile device. Designing content and layout based on user needs and community standards ensures patrons can easily find what they are looking for.

Usability testing and user needs analysis are two things that are worth the time and effort to complete. Even small usability tests with library patrons (non-staff) will help show designers the glaring flaws with the ease of use if the library website. Designing content and access points around users rather than around staff helps ease frustration from patrons who want to be able to log in to their online account to renew items, request inter library loan, access articles and find library hours. Completing a user needs analysis provides staff with valuable statistics on usage of library links and materials, looks at the areas patrons need more information or training in and can give staff ideas on how to promote the digital presence of the library. The text discusses different marketing techniques libraries use to get patrons to the library website in the first place. Marketing in a variety of formats will depend on the user base. Marketing the website on social media, in blogs, and with community outreach events can help expose users to the collections and services available online. While marketing helps users find the website, usability helps keep patrons coming back.

Providing reference in a variety of ways is beneficial for busy patrons. At UNLV we provide in person, telephone, email, text and chat reference. Our current chat platform is LibraryH3lp. This service offers both application software and cloud based capabilities. The software converts texts and chats to instant messages in one interface so staff can easily respond to users questions. I think one consideration for digital reference is to ensure the organization has a policy for what they can and cannot answer via text and to make sure privacy policies are strictly enforced via non encrypted services. At UNLV we are switching to LibAnswers by SpringShare for our chat and FAQs.

http://springshare.com/libanswers/

This chat service allows for easy data collection and queue’s texts and emails for workflow distribution with real time status updates that go to lead staff. This new chat software is fully cloud based and allows for canned responses to basic questions. For example if a patron chats or texts the library a question about hours the system sends an automatic message with our current hours. The system also alerts the patron if the library is currently closed, these chats and texts will go into a workflow queue for assigned staff to answer upon opening. This will be an awesome future because our current chat service receives angry and frustrated texts from overnight patrons who don’t realize our business hours include digital services as well.

Providing various means of easy access to materials is our primary goal. Technology and digital access points allows patrons to get what they need when they need it on their terms. Usability, marketing and education for patrons helps increase the use and helpfulness of the website and electronic presence of the library.