Kindness, envy and (module 6)


I have to say right from the very beginning that I am awe of seeing Aaron with his gmail account that is – oh wow. Nothing more to say, move along now…. * that’s the envy part of my post 🙂

The first article I read was the one from Aaron about the stapler (2013) and very topical as we have had those very same experiences and conversations at the library on my campus. I am happy to say that we now have a range of staplers, both in the print room and in easy view and reach at the information desk (along with pens, tissues and the other things that our students often ask for). Sometimes the seemingly obvious and easiest things are overlooked, hence the value of the “kindness audit”.

Sometimes it seems that the danger is that everyone is a designer and has access to make signs. We all have computers and the attitude that … “It’s so easy – I can do that”.

True story – I once worked with a manager who thought an issue was nearly always solved by a new sign. I do confess here and now that I have also removed signs…excess signs and signs that either confuse, are rude, are too numerous or just don’t add value to the user experience. I firmly believe that if you have too many signs, people mostly don’t read or pay attention to any of them! So the danger is that there may be one useful, important sign that gets completely overlooked in the barrage of signage. The same applies to the website, as well as signage, hence my complete resonance with the Schmidt article (2011, The benefits of less). We do aim to make our website quite clear and pared down, but as Aaron states, this means that you need to work out the ‘critical tasks’ through usability testing. Usability testing, focus groups, research is just great, not only to produce a *product* – whether it be a website or a poster or a sign, but importantly we have evidence that we can show to managers and others who question our decisions. Too often librarians don’t see things in terms of the user, but through librarian eyes.

Aaron’s comments about ‘surveys, meh’ were interesting! I had not thought about surveys in that way, but again, surveys are so easy to produce and everyone seems to be doing a survey. But what do they mean? We have surveyed students before about opening hours, and they all say “more hours” but when we added extended hours we didn’t get students!

We have been fortunate to have a team member who does have a background in graphic design (who then became a librarian!), and Jo has been just brilliant in terms of producing eye-catching, high quality images for some of our competitions and posters/newsletters. Jo is currently on maternity leave…but back next year and I cannot wait!!

Examples below…






The checkout slip, or due date slip IS something I have thought about a little. We have made changes to our slips to conserve paper, and that was something we wanted to achieve in terms of sustainability. We have recently implemented RFID, and so will be doing further work to improve the slip, and also make improvements to the self-check machine, where there are opportunities to add value to the user experience. Perhaps we could use the self check screen to highlight the monthly library event or ?

My challenge:

How can I make a difference? I do work in a national team and in terms of communication we are looking to produce signage that can be applied across all libraries and that applies UX principles.

How do I manage upwards and sideways to ensure that we apply a kindess audit to our user experiences…..


Bivens-Tatum, W. (2010). Imagination, sympathy, and the user experience. Library Journal, 8.

Hadro, J. (2010, March 1). Learn by asking [Web log post]. Library Journal. Retrieved from

LaRue, J. (2010). The visibility and invisibility of librarians. Library Journal, 10.

MacManus, R. (2012, January 29). 5 signs of a great user experience [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Schmidt, A. (2010, January 15). New column launch: The user experience [Web log post]. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Schmidt, A. (2013, June 3). Focus on people, not tools [Web log post]. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Schmidt, A. (2013, April 3). Putting the “you” in UX | the user experience [Web log post]. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Schmidt, A. (2011, February 1). Signs of good design [Web log post]. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Schmidt, A. (2011, January 15). The benefits of less [Web log post]. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Schmidt, A. (2012, February 7). Consider the checkout slip [Web log post]. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Schmidt, A, & Stephens, M. (2012, July 16). A better site visit. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Schmidt, A., & Stephens, M. (2011, July 15). Putting the UX in education [Web log post]. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Schuster, D. (2011, January 4). Debunking the user experience [Web log post]. unmatchedstyle. Retrieved from


4 Responses to “Kindness, envy and (module 6)”

  1. 1 Julie Kahan

    Hah, I also noticed and was in awe of Aaron’s gmail address. When did he sign up for that one?

    I also liked Aaron’s suggestion of looking at the checkout slip. I liked his sample that grouped materials according to due date and the way the date stood out. This makes it much easier for the customer. As we see now with app designs, simple and clean is better.

    I have seen other libraries also take advantage of the checkout slip to include a note that says something about what the items on average would have cost them, versus savings from the library…”priceless”. I thought that was clever and a good way of showing the value of library services.

    • 2 Kate Bunker

      Yes- image making changes so that the due dates are clear- so simple, yet so UX friendly!!
      And I have seen a checkout slip with the avergae price of the books- a fab idea!!
      thanks for your comments 🙂

  2. 3 Jonine Bergen

    I love the images Jo created. They are a great example of an image being better than a thousand words. Beautiful.

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