Influx Blog

Thought Experiment: Plainest Library Website Ever

Participatory Design in Academic Libraries

Participatory design is an approach to building spaces, services, and tools where the people who will use them participate centrally in coming up with concepts and then designing the actual products.

The papers in this volume, written by librarians and IT professionals from 12 colleges and universities, report on user research and participatory design projects. All of the authors attended workshops and then dove fearlessly into projects with as little as two days of training.

The authors wanted to learn how their students or faculty members do their academic work. Their reports share new methods of approaching enduring questions and offer a number of useful and interesting findings. They make a good case for participatory design of academic libraries.

I know what I’m doing this weekend!

Get the report: Participatory Design in Academic Libraries from the Council on Library and Information Resources.

[via ethnographr]

Libraries, Typography and Reader Mood

Getting libraries to take typography seriously is a bit of a hard sell. I certainly understand that there are bigger picture issues for us to think about. And I get that fretting over the shapes of letters can seem a bit precious.

But the typography we use affects how our members perceive us. So it is worth thinking about.

A short paper titled The Aesthetics of Reading [pdf] confirms that good typography leads to better experiences. I found this bit about perceived elapsed time particularly interesting:

…we found that participants in the poor typography condition underestimated their reading time by 24 seconds on average, while participants in the good typography condition underestimated their reading time by 3 minutes and 18 seconds on average.

The study also reports that good typography can make people more creative and in a better mood!

With the candle task we found that 4 of 10 participants successfully correctly solved the task in the good typography condition while 0 of 9 participants correctly solved the task in the poor typography condition. This is a reliable difference, ?2 (1) = 2.47, p < .05. This indicates that participants in the good typography condition were in a better mood before starting the candle task then were the participants in the poor typography condition.

Having read this paper, I now feel more justified to blather on about typography. (Consider yourself warned.)

Dmitry Fadeyev at Usability Post has a nice summary of the paper: Effects of Typography on Reader Mood and Productivity

Excellent Writing on the SPD Blotter

Voters in Washington just passed Initiative 502, decriminalizing the possession of marijuana for adults. To help everyone understand the new law, the Seattle Police Department wrote Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use In Seattle.

The post uses a great conversational format, is easy to understand, and avoids using a boring, corporate tone. I’m really impressed.

Examples:
……
Can I smoke pot outside my home? Like at a park, magic show, or the Bite of Seattle?
Much like having an open container of alcohol in public, doing so could result in a civil infraction—like a ticket—but not arrest. You can certainly use marijuana in the privacy of your own home. Additionally, if smoking a cigarette isn’t allowed where you are (say, inside an apartment building or flammable chemical factory), smoking marijuana isn’t allowed there either.

What happens if I get pulled over and an officer thinks I’ve been smoking pot?
If an officer believes you’re driving under the influence of anything, they will conduct a field sobriety test and may consult with a drug recognition expert. If officers establish probable cause, they will bring you to a precinct and ask your permission to draw your blood for testing. If officers have reason to believe you’re under the influence of something, they can get a warrant for a blood draw from a judge. If you’re in a serious accident, then a blood draw will be mandatory.

What happens if I get pulled over and I’m sober, but an officer or his K9 buddy smells the ounce of Super Skunk I’ve got in my trunk?
Under state law, officers have to develop probable cause to search a closed or locked container. Each case stands on its own, but the smell of pot alone will not be reason to search a vehicle. If officers have information that you’re trafficking, producing or delivering marijuana in violation of state law, they can get a warrant to search your vehicle.

SPD seized a bunch of my marijuana before I-502 passed. Can I have it back?
No.

Will SPD assist federal law enforcement in investigations of marijuana users or marijuana-related businesses, that are allowed under I-502?
No. Officers and detectives will not participate in an investigation of anything that’s not prohibited by state law.
……

Have anything complicated to explain on your library website? Take a lesson from the SPD and emulate this style. Remember: improving your content is one of the most effective ways to improve your website and no tech skills are required. Read Letting Go of the Words and Revising Prose for help.

Why Doesn’t Netflix Offer Advanced Search on Their Site?

Nothing is purely additive unless everyone uses it: If there’s an affordance to use a feature, the affordance is a distraction to everyone, while the positive value accrues only to the users and potential users. The net value of a feature is the value to the users of the feature, divided by the distraction of the affordance to everyone. Advanced search ends up being used by such a tiny fraction of users (sub 1%), that it can’t possibly pay for its cost. And yes, obviously we have thought of burying the affordance for people who don’t use it.

Netflix’s Chief Product Officer answers a question about search on Quora.

I’m not posting this to badmouth advanced search. I’m more interested the larger lesson.

The formula of Net Value = Value / Distraction is extremely useful, and we can use it to think not just about our library websites, but to our entire organizations.

What library services and programs offer the most value and least amount of distraction? What distractions can you eliminate to increase the overall value of your library?

Views from the DPLA Appfest at Chattanooga Public Library


As this library evolves I hope they find a place for this furniture. I’ve seen about 15 Bertoia Diamond chairs today!


Really great sightlines throughout the library. Each floor in the library is a wide open space. Big potential.

Walking Paper Audio Winter 2012

Download Walking Paper Audio Winter 2012

Tracklist:
1. Alive – Eliot Lipp
2. You Need Me On My Own – Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
3. New France (feat. Zola Jesus) – Orbital
4. Think Feel (feat. Chelsey Scheffe) – Beat Connection
5. Hail Bop – Django Django
6. Past Lives – DIIV
7. After the Moment – Craft Spells
8. Know Me – Frankie Rosie
9. Into Black – Blouse
10. Floating in Blue – Young Prisms
11. Brains – Lower Dens
12. Believe – Gus Gus
13. Mirror – Burial / Four Tet / Thom Yorke
14. Feeling Lost Forever – The Sight Below

Previously

Walking Paper Audio Spring 2012
Walking Paper Audio Winter 2012
Walking Paper Audio Spring 2011
Walking Paper Audio Winter 2010

144 We Are Not Our Patrons Pencils Available!

Good news: I have a gross of these pencils left over from a project. They can now be yours – $2.00 for three pencils. Yeah!

Visit the Walking Paper Shop

Please Take This Summer Reading Program Survey

I’m working with PLA on a project exploring the future of summer reading programs. As part of our research we created a summer reading programs survey.

Getting a lot of responses will help make the project a success so if you’re not the expert about your library’s summer reading program I hope you’ll pass on the survey’s URL to the person in your library that does.

Thanks!

Take the Summer Reading Survey.

Be Nice to Books

This is the graphic from the Portland Mercury encouraging readers to not make books sad and vote yes on 26-143.

Be sure to check out Libraries Yes, a good site with a great URL explaining what the Multnomah County Library does and providing info about establishing a library district.

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