Wednesday, December 31, 2003

The Library; with whining, the web, a would-be user, a wish, and some wandering

The library closed early today - just as I got there in fact, at 5pm. Why is it necessary to close one hour early on New Years Eve? You're not going to miss the Blessed Event if it closes at the normal 6pm, that leaves you six hours, you could practically drive to LA by then... yes, this is whining. Apologies.

More complainingfeedback, re website usability (or patron blindness): went to the site, which is crammed with links; the "locations and hours" didn't show anything special, the "holiday hours" did exist but was off to the right and did not attract attention...and the page took 19 seconds to load with a dial-up line at 45k. This being a largely rural county, many (most?) users do have dial-up (i.e. slow) access.

Perhaps the library could get itself a simple, informal weblog? where the natural thing to post on, if you're closing early, is that you're closing early? It's a good way to make very clear what's new news and what information is more static.

So I visited some library-themed weblogs to get/give an idea of the possibilities.

Sample library weblogs:
And there's a plethora of librarians' weblogs out there. Most prominent is the Shifted Librarian; Ex Libris has a page of Quotes, among them these:
From Teresa Nielsen Hayden:
What’s in old libraries*? You don’t know until you find it. But in order for that to happen, you have to preserve the old holdings and original documents...
* occasionally, old smallpox scabs

From Carol Megathlin:
The quality and self-respect of a people can be gauged -- not exclusively, but succinctly -- in their libraries. The open door of a library says we are ignorant without excuse. The boarded-up door says we are simply ignorant.
Also these pearls:

The Expert User Is Dead (via) :
We should design our websites, out databases, our webguides, our instruction, our reference interviews for who our users are, not who we would like them to be.
We don't read pages, we scan them. We don't make optimal choices, we satisfice. We don't figure out how things work, we muddle through."

When users come to a library page, or to one of our database pages, they don't suddenly shed these characteristics...
Update: here's a news article on
librarian blogs

Finally, some legal advice on making agreements with Sauron.

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