This document is intended to help library web developers decide how to label key resources and services in such a way that most users can understand them well enough to make productive choices. It compiles data from usability studies evaluating terminology on library websites, and suggests test methods and best practices for reducing cognitive barriers caused by terminology, and provides an extensive list of resources.
I’ve been meaning to post this for a while. Jargon is one of my biggest concerns about library website design. We use all these terms just assuming that our patrons understand them without checking that they do.
Recently, the Pew Research Center found that 90 percent of Americans would be upset if their local library closed. But the survey also found “52% of Americans say that people do not need public libraries as much as they used to because they can find most information on their own.”
That’s why libraries need to adapt. People want them—but want them to be better. Instead of a warehouse of information, libraries need tools for use by the commons—a Netflix of things.
“We’ve been in the information business for 3,000 years,” Hill says, waxing philosophical on the role of the librarian in society. “If there’s anything we do well, it’s deliver information, and information is knowledge. I think if anybody is positioned to help build workers for this new information age, it is the library.”
The Pew Internet and American Life Project released a new report today entitled How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities PDF, that shows a very large majority of Americans value libraries, viewing them as critical to their communities and vital to providing services that ensure equality of opportunity for people who would otherwise be at a terrible disadvantage in life.This is in contrast to a few privileged blowhards whove opined that the library is an obsolete institution in the age of the Internet — and worse, an unaffordable luxury in a time of austerity and recession. The mission of libraries is to help the public navigate information and become informed — a mission that is more important than ever. As Eleanor Crumblehulme said, “Cutting libraries in a recession is like cutting hospitals in a plague.”
Now that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and others are busy digitizing old books and putting them online, isn’t scholarly research easier to get at than ever? Why do we even need musty old tomes taking up space and musty old librarians to point us toward them?
Cal recently hosted a symposium on the future of the research library, and for some time a committee of experts has been preparing this report for Dirks.
It says that libraries, “both as places and services — will be more, rather than less critical to University research and teaching in the next 20 years.” (emphasis mine)
We’ve gone from an information desert to an ocean. The hard part is convincing people that we can help them swim better.
Neil Gaiman (fantasy writer and die-hard library supporter) started a Twitter tag #LibrarianAngels, which has had a huge response. He also mentioned a Tumblr by two librarians to curate similar stories.
Real life accounts from library patrons whose lives have been changed for the better by libraries.
So if you need a pick-me-up or a way to start a conversation in your own community head on over.
Younger Americans—those ages 16-29—exhibit a fascinating mix of habits and preferences when it comes to reading, libraries, and technology. Almost all Americans under age 30 are online, and they are more likely than older patrons to use libraries’ computer and internet connections; however, they are also still closely bound to print, as three-quarters (75%) of younger Americans say they have read at least one book in print in the past year, compared with 64% of adults ages 30 and older.
Similarly, younger Americans’ library usage reflect a blend of traditional and technological services. Americans under age 30 are just as likely as older adults to visit the library, and once there they borrow print books and browse the shelves at similar rates. Large majorities of those under age 30 say it is “very important” for libraries to have librarians as well as books for borrowing, and relatively few think that libraries should automate most library services, move most services online, or move print books out of public areas.
At the same time, younger library visitors are more likely than older patrons to access the library’s internet or computers or use the library’s research resources, such as databases. And younger patrons are also significantly more likely than those ages 30 and older to use the library as a study or “hang out” space: 60% of younger patrons say they go to the library to study, sit and read, or watch or listen to media, significantly more than the 45% of older patrons who do this. And a majority of Americans of all age groups say libraries should have more comfortable spaces for reading, working, and relaxing.
It’s a fascinating read from PewInternet. I’m particularly interested in the finding that 76% of respondents support of the library as a public space and the comment … the public library has the remarkable opportunity to become a community gathering place in communities where such a space is sorely missing.
This is an idea that I’ve had for a long time. Digital services are becoming more important in libraries but there is value to the basic physical library as a place that isn’t a commercial business or a private residence. This seems to be an area of service that could be explored for ways to serve our communities beyond the basic public meeting rooms.
Ebooks readers are great and improving all the time. It’s the ebooks themselves–the DRM, the bad user experience, the complicated and wonky checkout procedures, the lack of privacy, the changing restrictions we deal with as libraries, the terrible websites our vendors create–that are not just suboptimal but at the center of a bad user experience that we’re in the awkward position of promoting as if it were our own.
Here’s what I mean by potholes – on your website, if the navigation is unclear, or if that “what do I do next” thing doesn’t make sense, you have caused a customer to stumble. You have effectively placed a pothole in your customer’s path, making it harder for them to navigate towards whatever it is they wanted to do.
We have a tendency to see ourselves as educators while our patrons see us as service providers. That difference can degrade the usefulness of our services and create conflicts in the community.
Douglas County Libraries, in Colorado, is trying something new: buying eBooks directly from publishers and hosting them on its own platform. That platform is based on the purchase of content at discount; owning—not leasing—a copy of the file; the application of industry-standard DRM on the library’s files; multiple purchases based on demand; and a “click to buy” feature.
Its new DCL Digital Branch is one outcome of this strategy. As of this writing, more than 800 publishers have signed up, and their works are seamlessly integrated into and delivered from the library catalog, rather than from third-party sites.
An interesting alternative to what we have now with at least some of the annoying barriers removed.