Wednesday 6 January 2016

Putting the User First

Finished January 6
Putting the User First: 30 Strategies for Transforming Library Services by Courtney Greene McDonald

This short guide is written for academic librarians, but many of the ideas are transferable to a public library environment. It begins with a clear observation that you need to understand to truly put the user first, which is to understand that you aren't the user. Despite having a library card and using library materials and services, because of your inside knowledge you can never really see things from the user's viewpoint. It is good to recognize this and then discover the various things you can do to make sure you do put the user first.
This guide uses icons to mark each of the 30 strategies to show characteristics of each strategy. They represent: no cost, low cost, technological, physical spaces, personal practice, and organizational culture. There are 3 additional icons that are attached to follow up activities for most strategies to show what kind of activity it is.There are: actualize, contemplate, and investigate.
One example is #13 Prioritize. In summary it says you can't be all things to all people, so pick a population to prioritize. What I really liked was how it talked about collaboration as opposed to consensus. The term used here is "disagree but commit," which I really like. Prioritizing means that you will be undertaking an uncomfortable process. When you elevate some populations to be priorities, that means others are designated as less important, perhaps even unimportant. You have to know your priorities to advocate for them.
Another example is #25 Defuse. The author talks about her experience giving up complaining for Lent one year, and what effect that had on her during that time. Negativity is unnecessary and counterproductive. She proposes asking three questions: How important is this, really? Can I do something about it? and Do I need to have an opinion about this? Losing negativity saves a lot of time and energy, something we are all short of these days.
There are 28 more of these helpful strategies in this book. And many of them have referrals to other books or articles or websites that provide more ideas and insights.

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