Takeaways from UX Show and Tell

Oh dear, I’ve done it again; neglected the blog. Never mind, let’s try again.

So it appears attempting to spend time reflecting on an event and then writing up about it just doesn’t work for me (at least not at the moment). So I’m trying another tactic and throwing out a first impressions list of key points from an event I attended today.

I discovered at 10.30am this morning via Twitter that a UX show and tell event for librarians was happening in Cambridge this afternoon. I didn’t have anything in my calendar and this is a topic I’m particularly interested in so, after checking non-university librarians were welcome, I went. I’m not known for spontaneity, but I’m very glad I decided to go!

So, my thoughts:

  • There’s been lots of UX research going on in Cambridge libraries recently. I kind of knew this as I’d heard about the Protolib project going on at the moment, but I didn’t know any details.
  • Nobody regretted doing the research they had done. Although, I suppose if they had regretted doing it, they possibly wouldn’t have wanted to talk about it at this event.
  • Generally, post-it notes and approaching people in person seemed to be the most successful ways of recruiting participants. I found this too in the UX research I did for my MA dissertation.
  • A few libraries had tried the Love letter / Break-up letter method. For some it worked brilliantly, for others it was a flop. Why? Don’t know.
  • Getting students to engage in photo-based methods was unsuccessful for the two libraries which tried this. Why? Again, don’t know.
  • One study found that what people already in a space were doing defined how someone coming into that space felt they could behave. This brought up the question of whether we should clearly signpost the intented purpose of a space or just let users choose what they want to do in that space. The answer given was see what they’re doing and then signpost, which seems reasonable to me.
  • In another study it was found that the users really liked the “open privacy” of the space and being surrounded by print books, even if they were using online resources. This library has alternating desks and book stacks in the main reading room.
  • It can be really hard to leave your preconceptions behind you when conducting a touchstone tour of a space you know well (i.e. your own library!)
  • The ethnographic approach can be addictive and can pull you down lots of different paths. Try to stay focussed on your research question – you could always conduct another study if something really interesting crops up.

Thank you very much to all the speakers and organisers for putting together this event. It was a very interesting and useful afternoon.


After the Storm: Thoughts on CILIP

The cause of the storm

There was a bit of turmoil in library land this week after CILIP posted a blog post (Libraries, equality and the “turnaround decade”) which appeared to be supporting the Conservatives (at least that’s what it seemed like to me and many others).  This resulted in a bit of personal turmoil and uncertainty to how I should react.  Some people have cancelled their membership, should I?

After a twitterstorm, CILIP added a statement to the post to “provide clarification” which stated “the post and our tweets do not support or endorse Conservative policy”. I’m not going to explain why I had a problem with the post since Phil Bradley has already written a commentary which succinctly covers that – Oh dear, CILIP.

Alarm, confusion, disappointment

My first reaction to CILIP’s post was alarm.  I’m not the most involved member of CILIP, but this did not seem to fit with the CILIP I knew and it’s not what I want CILIP to be.  I don’t want to be part of an organisation which is seen to be supporting the conservatives (though I acknowledge that the additional statement clearly states CILIP does not).  My next reaction was confusion.  Are they trying to ingratiate CILIP with the government?  Have they been fooled by Cameron and his words?  Is this a new direction for CILIP?  What’s going on?  My third reaction was disappointment.  I felt let down by an organisation I thought was supposed to be representing me.  I started questioning whether I should remain a member of CILIP.

Rational thought

This got me thinking about what I get out of being a member of CILIP.

  1. Ejournals: The first thing that came to mind was access to ejournals.  I don’t work in an academic library, and therefore my only access to subscription librarianship journals is via CILIP.  I fairly frequently use the access to LISA and Sage journals that comes with my CILIP membership. Obviously there are various open access journals (thank you CIG!) I could read, but sometimes I come across an article I want that isn’t open access.
  2. Chartership: I’ve recently started the chartership process and it is really helping me focus, record and reflect on my CPD.  Yes, I could do this without actually chartering, but on a selfish note I’d quite like the recognition for doing it.  Then there’s the question of “what if a job came up requiring/desiring chartership and I hadn’t done it?”.  I hope my current fixed term position will become permanent, but if not I’ll be job hunting in a year’s time.
  3. The VLE: The VLE has been an exciting development and I’m actually finding it useful.  Yes, it has been a bit slow to get off the ground, but it now seems to be going in the right direction and I don’t want to miss out.
  4. My special interest groups (SIGs) and regional member network:   I’ve always been more connected with my SIGs and regional network and I’ve been to far more SIG and regional events that national CILIP ones.  I think it’s a combination of these events being either easier to get to (regional network) or entirely focused on something relevant to me (SIGs) and generally smaller, so less intimidating. I also enjoy the publications, the networking and being able to get involved.
  5. A sense of community: Finally, I get a real sense of community out of being a member of CILIP. Yes, I would still feel part of the profession if I left CILIP, but I think I would feel kind of left out.  Maybe this is just my insecurities, but for me it’s a benefit of my membership.

This list made me realise how much I am actually getting out of CILIP. It seem’s unfair to leave CILIP and all that it is offering for one mistake (I’m hoping this is what it was).  Phil Gorman tweeted from the CILIP New Professional’s Day.


Hopefully, we’ll all get to see something of Nick Poole’s talk soon.

Then there’s the case that you can’t change it if you’re not part of it.  If the membership disagree with what CILIP is saying, we need to tell them.  We’ve started that on Twitter this week, and there’s the well timed survey on CILIP’s Strategic Plan for 2016-2020 we can use too.  I’ve already completed the survey, but will be sending an email outlining my concerns.