Continuing our National Library Week celebration and blog post on library challenges in the digital age, Part II brings us even more inspirational responses from library leaders around the world.
In this installment, Courtney Greene McDonald, Jacqueline Beattie, Beth Ashmore and Rebecca Metzger weigh in on relationships and user experience in the library.
What are your greatest library challenges in today’s digital age?
“I think in many cases our greatest challenges are also our greatest opportunities. As a holistic user experience (UX) strategy is becoming more the norm commercially and in the public sector, the baseline expectations of our patrons are being shaped for both online and in-person interactions. Libraries have begun engaging with UX ideas and practices, but I think we need to continue to do so, and to do so with some urgency. Integrating a user-centric, customer-centric bias to our decision-making at all levels puts us in a position to interact with our communities in ways that resonate with them – which opens opportunities to persuasively articulate our enduring value in a manner they can tangibly experience.
“The other challenge that comes to mind is in the area of discovery: we know that ‘everything’ is not on the web. That said, I don’t think that libraries want our unique collections to be part of what’s hidden to the average Google searcher, particularly since study after study suggests that increasing proportions of our constituents are starting their research on the open web. Enabling easy discovery of our print and electronic holdings on the open web is as crucial as providing full-text access to our constituents. We can no longer assume we are already on our patrons’ radar, so to speak; we need to be proactive about being findable where we know they are looking. The open web provides a great many options to go elsewhere.”
Courtney Greene McDonald
Head, Discovery & Research Services
Indiana University Libraries, USA
“Keeping the clients happy whilst balancing their needs against the cost and sheer volume of available content.”
Information Services Lead
Neftex Petroleum Consultants Ltd, UK
“I think the greatest challenges for my library in today’s digital age are cultivating relationships. Whether it be a vendor who can help us go to the next level of seamless discovery and linking or a publisher who can bring us the latest content that our users need or a fellow academic unit such as the writing center or tutoring programs, our job is to build relationships with all of them so the library can remain the hub of learning and advocacy for our users that it has always been.”
Metadata Librarian for Serials and Electronic Resources
Samford University Library, USA
“In a way, our greatest challenge (and opportunity) remains truly human: to stay attuned to our users’ information needs in this rapidly changing scholarly environment–to understand their challenges and opportunities. And then to be nimble enough to adapt and deliver spaces, services, and tools that allow them to be successful. To be that nimble, we librarians constantly have to learn new skills.
“Right now, UCSB Library is undergoing a major addition and renovation construction project that will deliver more technology-rich, adaptable, and collaborative work spaces for our students and faculty, in addition to cultural gathering spaces for the wider community. Some program initiatives we’re working on include: a new Social Sciences Data Lab, a Data Curation @ UCSB pilot program, and the Alexandria Digital Research Library. Learn more at http://www.library.ucsb.edu.”
Assistant University Librarian for Outreach & Academic Collaboration
UC Santa Barbara Library, USA