Be Our Guest: Create Your Own Pixie Dust at the Library

originally posted in Cognotes, Monday,  June 27, 2016 – Orlando
By Meredith Myers,
American Libraries

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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.

RUSA’s President’s Program: Be Our Guest! Transform Your Library into an Exciting Experience for Users

Dave Cobb will be the keynote speaker at the President’s Program hosted by the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) at the upcoming ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Cobb, vice president, creative development of the Thinkwell Group, is an expert on designing immersive educational experiences for museums and theme parks. He’ll draw on his observations and experience with local Orlando theme parks and talk about how libraries can tell stories with space and win over library users.

He will be joined with two expert responders from the library world, John Blyberg, assistant director for innovation and UX at the Darien Library; and Steven Bell, associate university librarian for research & instructional services at Temple University.

Read the full press release here.


Up Close and Personal: Meet the authors in Orlando!

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Literary Tastes: Celebrating the Best Reading of the Year

Listen to some of the year’s best authors discuss their work and the craft of writing, while enjoying the company of other book lovers. All Annual Conference registrants are invited to participate in this conference program. Light refreshments will be served. Book signings to follow.

Featured speakers include:

Naomi Novik, author of Uprooted. Published by Del Rey. Winner of the 2016 Fantasy category of RUSA’s Reading List.
Jim Shepard, author of The Book of Aron. Published by A.A.Knopf. Winner of the 2016 Sophie Brody Medal and finalist for the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.
James Hannaham, author of Delicious Foods. Published by Little, Brown and Company. 2016 RUSA Notable Book for Fiction.
Karin Slaughter, author of Pretty Girls. Published by William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins. Winner of the 2016 Adrenaline category of RUSA’s Reading List.
Joy Harjo, author of Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems. Published by W.W. Norton and Company. 2016 RUSA Notable Book for Poetry.

Add it to your conference schedule!

Date: Sunday, June 26 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Location: Rosen Centre, Grand A
Cost: Included with full conference registration.


RUSA’s Newest Interest Group – FYE IG

RUSA is proud to announce the formation of the RUSA First Year Experience Interest Group, (FYEIG). This group has been formed in order to address the many challenges of first year students in higher education. One of the anticipated outcomes is to establish a forum with regular meetings for the discussion of practical and scholarly topics relating to first year students and those involved with this group.

The purpose of this group is to share ideas and develop new connections for future collegiality and support. Topics for discussions include but are not limited to retention improvements, introduction to higher education research skills development, outreach, first generation students, international students, students enrolled simultaneously in high school and college (dual enrollment programs), reference services, etc.

This group is in the initial pilot project phase, which ends on June 30, 2016.  In order to become a regularly scheduled, RUSA-sponsored group, there must be sufficient support and some credible work by this date.

You are invited to join this interest group by going to, then log into your ALA account, and join the group.  FYE IG membership is automatic.