originally posted in Cognotes, Monday, June 27, 2016 – Orlando
By Meredith Myers, American Libraries
Room W110B in the Orange County Convention Center was packed tighter than Disney’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on the first day of summer vacation. Instead of magical pixie dust, RUSA chose Dave Cobb to make every-day librarians into user experience designers, all with the click of his mouse.
“We tell stories in physical places,” he said, as photos of colorful museums and libraries splashed across the screen in perfectly timed clicks. As the vice president for creative development of Thinkwell Group in Los Angeles, Cobb has spent years designing roller coasters and attractions for theme parks. “People often say that I design roller coasters. No. I tell stories with roller coasters. Libraries are no different. We need to understand the user. Our audience has an audience.”
He suggested asking, “What is unique about your location? Who is your audience, and what are their expectations of your library? How are you inviting your audience to take ownership of their library?”
In telling stories, librarians can create Be Our Guest: Create Your Own Pixie Dust at the Library an emotional resonance with patrons, thus inspiring them to tell their own stories. To illustrate, Cobb filled the screen with swimming metaphors: “waders” being the largest audience, “swimmers” being most curious, and “divers” being true fans – his message being that one should design library spaces for all three types of users. He added a new category of “mer-people,” speaking of those who have been submerged too long. (Which is probably how most librarians feel after a long day of meetings and toting free books from the Exhibits.)
Panel responders were John Blyberg, assistant director for innovation and UX, Darien Library, Darien, Connecticut, and Steven Bell, associate university librarian, Temple University. Bell spoke of being intentional and creating passionate users, and also asked if the patrons or librarians are emphasized.
“Pay attention to the employees,” Bell suggested. “Fix what is broken. Change can’t just be at the circulation desk. You are all user experience designers.” See? No pixie dust needed. Thanks, RUSA.