Thursday, March 01, 2012
The Work of the New Librarian
An article that one of my brilliant library tweeps (sorry, can't remember who started it) pointed out recently - Google-Trained Minds Can't Deal with Terrible Research Database UI - from The Atlantic (see: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/02/google-trained-minds-cant-deal-with-terrible-research-database-ui/253641/#.T00oo737U_p.twitter ) makes me think that it's true - the work of today's librarians should be to expend more resources on improving the usability of the UIs our patrons have to deal with and fewer on telling our patrons that they need to work differently & here's how.
In order to improve UIs, we have to understand how they're built. Then we have to be able to fix them. At the very least, we have to close the feedback loop between our users and commercial database vendors. It's a mind-shift to go from saying here's the workaround & providing documentation on how to deal with a lousy experience to building a fix for the fundamental problem (it's been said before & again, sorry if I've failed to attribute it, I don't recall from whom I heard this wisdom 1st, but it's worth reiterating) - "it's not the user, it's the interface"! (nice blog post on ui principles at http://drupal.technicat.com/writing/ui.html)