Erika Rood and Louise Vos had the opportunity to attend the Stellenbosch Library Symposium 15 – 16 November 2018. The theme of the symposium: User experience (UX) in action.
User Experience (UX) is based on the idea that products and services should be designed with the user in mind. The sessions focused on the following themes, all related to user experience:
- Smarter libraries through technology
- Smart library design: Spaces and facilities
- Using UX research for smarter services and resources
Attendees had the opportunity to see the most prominent UX leaders in action. The full symposium programme with links to the PPT presentations and videos are available at: http://conferences.sun.ac.za/index.php/sulis_symp15/index/pages/view/prog
In his opening speech, Prof Wim de Villiers (Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University), congratulated the US library for getting together a diverse group of symposium attendees – there were 160 delegates from 10 countries. He applauded the US library for its friendly fresh spaces filled with light and colour. In the past the library was all about collections, but now it is about connecting people to a cloud of information and to each other. The best interest of the user is the only interest.
The day before the conference started, attendees had the opportunity to visit the newly refurbished Medicine and Health Science Library at Tygerberg Campus. Two symposium presentations referred to the upgrade of this library – one by the architects involved, portraying the planning of the upgrade process with before and after pictures, and the other by a medical student and her experience before and after the renovation.
Mr Ned Potter delivered the keynote address: UX at York: Embedding ethnography and design. The University of York Library undertook a project: UNDERSTANDING ACADEMICS in 2016, where they did fieldwork amongst 100 academics aiming
- to gain a better understanding of how academics at York approach their research and teaching activities;
- to determine how Library services currently facilitate and support those activities;
- to integrate the ‘academic voice’ into future service planning and development of support to academics, ensuring that the Library continues to engage departments in innovative ways that respond to both current and future needs.
He emphasised that UX is all about human centred design and needs to be embedded in the culture of the organisation:
For implementation, libraries need the buy-in from top management. He provided the top 5 tips to embed UX in the library. He also recommended that libraries need to consider a graffiti wall where users can tell what they think. His full PPT presentation:
The following presentations are really worth the effort to look at:
Mr Lars Binau (Technical University of Denmark)
A library IOT living lab
His motto: “If you can dream it, you can do it!” – Walt Disney
In the past the library was built for books, now for people. It’s important to secure digital literacy on campus and to make the campus more sustainable. They went to the next level to make users feel at home – see slides 42 and 92. “We can’t make the students learn, but we can make it easier for them!”
Ms Loretta Parham (Atlanta University Center Woodruff Library)
Space and Generation Z
Focused on needs of Generation Z (born between 1992 – 2012). They were born in a period where technology exploded and are used to things changing. They do not know a world where everything is not connected and want to do everything themselves. They have certain traits, like FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out… The library needs to take cognisance of their needs and adapt services and spaces accordingly. Download: [Slides] [Video]
Mr Roelof Rabe (Roelof Rabe Architects)
Libraries of the future: changing our species
The architect, Mr Rabe, was briefed by the University Stellenbosch to design a library of the future at Tygerberg Medical Campus. He took the audience through the design process and attributes of different spaces. They created zones – comfortable lounge areas, collaborative spaces, individual learning areas and high-tech study booths. Spaces must flow – first collaborative, then gradually quieter. They decided to re-use and upholster old furniture, combined with sleek modern furniture. Have a look at the PPT (slide 50 – 64) for the beautiful end product.
Dr Elsje-Márie Geldenhuys (Stellenbosch University)
The new library – 2018: A Space Odyssey
She shared her experience as library user over 12 years and her love affair with the library – from the old to the new.
Ms Abeer Al Kuwari (Qatar National Library)
Qatar National Library: A Smart Library from the start
This presentation portrays the Qatar National Library that serves as a National Library for the country, a public library and research library. It was built between 2012 and 2017.
Download: [Slides] [Video]
Do take a moment to listen to Sounds of the Library – composed by Dana Al Fardan (only 2:26). This lovely song was composed as the branding song for the impressive Qatar National Library.
The message of this symposium: Knowledge of users’ needs, how they think and learn and how they do research is of utmost importance. Several presenters stressed the fact that users must feel safe and at home in the library. It is not a quiet space anymore, but there must be well defined zones for different activities.
One of the NWU LIS goals is exceptional user experience and within this focus we can develop our libraries even more to be relevant and valued partners in teaching, learning and research at the NWU. We can feel very proud of our libraries’ spaces. Over the years we’ve learnt to do more with less. Here and there we will have to stretch our budgets to keep up with global developments, but we must keep our eyes on the students and staff who are the drivers of our goals.