I have some screenshots to share of a search for books that I performed. I pretended that I was a typical library patron who wanted to know information about organic gardening. My first search was my search of a very usable database: Amazon.com. Then, I compared that search using the term “organic gardening” as both a keyword search and a subject search in my libraries OPAC system.

The keyword searches are similar enough. I think that under the lens of usability they are very similar. The OPAC is a little more difficult to read due to layout; However the usability problem becomes quite obvious when a patron attempts to do perform a subject search. Below is the screenshot of what happens when a patron performs a subject search

I don’t think people relate this to what it really is: an index. The main issue I have with this is that it makes the user think too much. Most users don’t understand that this list represents a list of the controlled vocabulary in the database. They understand that they have to click something, but they aren’t sure why or what the implications are (such as choosing between “Organic gardening — Dictionaries” and “Organic gardening — Encyclopedias”)


I work in a small library in which I do a lot of different reference and circulation duties. Most of that time I work at the circulation desk, but on occasion, I have to leave shelve books if there is no volunteer at that time. One thing I have noticed is that I often get approached by patrons asking reference questions.

I think the idea of Roving Reference is really a great idea. I believe that the reason the reference desk isn’t used more is that once a patron comes up to the desk there becomes an automatic power shift. I think people are intimidated or feel like their questions would be a waste of our time  (when the reason we are there is for them)

I think it works in my scenario of shelving because I am not closely paying attention to them. I think that having someone walking through the stacks looking for someone to help could feel invasive. I believe in order for roving reference to work there must be an equal balance between availability and approachability without “looming”.

Before messing around with the Style Sheet:

From Screen Captures

After playing with the style sheet:

From Screen Captures



(Purple is my favorite color.)

Here is the homepage of the McMinnville public library. I like their homepage when compared to other libraries’ pages. In general I find that library web pages are not very usable. What I like about this page is things are very simple.

For instance: the name of the webpage is at the top left corner of the page; the links to different areas have  ‘>>’ which is a visual cue for movement indicating that clicking there will get you somewhere. Another thing I like is how they present they have a blog. I know that many of the patrons I see at library would give me a look like I was crazy if I suggested they look at a blog for current events. This site on the other hand states: “Looking for a list of new DVDs at the library? Want a book suggestion from a librarian?” This indicates to the reader that this is a place they will find current information, not just some web 2.0 jargon.

From Pictures


I’m going to be honest here, it is very difficult for me to seperate out my customer service experiences from the customer service I provide and that I receive as that is what I do at my full time job. I feel I am pretty good at it and there are a lot of things that I have discovered working in the corporate end that has rubbed off and influenced how I deal with patrons at my part-part-time library job. For instance, the way that I deliver information has changed. “I’m sorry *blah blah* BUT here is what I can do” Making the customer feel like you are their hero I’ve found is the key. Unfortunately you get people who don’t care about that and want to talk you into circles until they get thier way.

Before I get carried away with stories about nasty customers, I suppose I should get to the point of this posting: my good and bad customer service experiences.

I hate it when credit card companies want you to enroll in their credit protection plan. They always call me and want me to join. I’ve heard the same spiel over and over again. But every time they try to convince me and they won’t take no for an answer. I think this is just a way for them to make an extra buck. Part of the reason I believe this is because of a negative experience that my parents had in which they didn’t disclose everything to them and then made it incredibly difficult for them to opt out….

Which leads me to the customer service philosophy that I believe in: people talk, and unfortunately they usually talk mroe about the negative than the good. The attitude that you give to your customer will influence how they speak to others about your organization. For my corporate job this means that a negative customer service experience means that when that person chooses to make the investment in windows in the future, they won’t choose us, and they will tell their friends. (Which is also why I will never buy a gateway computer again) I feel that that rubs off in the public sector as well with public libraries. Bad service could mean one less supporter when the library needs help montarily.

Good customer service is doing what you can to make the customer satisfied. They might not getting everything they want, but they are satisfied with what you have been able to do for them.

What Am I Reading Now?

my currently-reading shelf:
Stephanie's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (currently-reading shelf)

Some genealogy links

Flickr Photos