Our New Book: Useful, Usable, Desirable

By designing your library with the user experience in mind, you have the potential to deepen the connection your library has with its community, and make your library a place that people love to use.

Amanda Etches and I wrote a book to help you do just that.


The book is a practical guide to assessing and improving all sorts of touchpoints in your library, and also covers foundational UX theory. Each chapter deals with a different part of the library and provides a list of checkpoints that you can use to assess how your library is doing. Each checkpoint states why we think is important, and tells you how to improve your score (should that be necessary). Yes, there’s even a scoring system.

As the subtitle says, this is about applying user experience design to your library. Think of it is as a big heuristic evaluation for the whole library, with supporting information about why UX matters, some practical user research methods, and helpful tips on design thinking. Check out the table of contents below to see what’s covered.

What’s more, I’ve been told that the book is “genuinely entertaining.” Not bad, right? Big thanks to Amanda for making the writing process fun, and for making the book really great!

You can ILL it via WordCat (or locally maybe!), buy it on Amazon, or at ALA’s store.

Table of contents:

1. Introducing Library User Experience
1.1 What Is User Experience Design?
1.2 Why UX for Libraries?
1.3 The Trinity of Good UX
1.4 The Principles of Library User Experience Design
1.5 How to Use This Book
1.6 A Note on Terminology

2. User Research Techniques in This Book
2.1 Attitudinal and Behavioral Research
2.2 Other User Research Techniques
2.3 Additional Reading

3. Physical Space
3.1 The Library Building Is Clean and Functions as Intended
3.2 The Library Building Is Free from Clutter
3.3 Furniture Adequately Supports Member Needs
3.4 The Building Supports Diverse Behaviors
3.5 Members Have Easy Access to Power Outlets

4. Service Points
4.1 Members Readily Approach Service Desks
4.2 Service Desks Adjust to Changing Needs
4.3 Members Receive Assistance When and Where They Need It
4.4 Members Receive the Kind of Assistance They Need
4.5 Additional Reading

5. Policies and Customer Service
5.1 Your Library Has a Service Philosophy
5.2 Your Staff Members Know and Live Your Service Philosophy
5.3 There Is as Little Policy as Possible
5.4 Library Policies Empower Staff
5.5 Staff Members Are Friendly and Genuinely Want to Help
5.6 Service Is Consistent across Departments and Modalities
5.7 Service Is Consistent across the Organization

6. Signage and Wayfinding
6.1 Your Library Has a Brand Manual That Is Consistent with the Principles of Graphic Design
6.2 All Signage Uses the Same Visual Language
6.3 Different Types of Signs Are Visually Distinct
6.4 There Are as Few Signs as Possible
6.5 There Are No Paper Signs Taped to Walls, Doors, Tables, Computers, or Any Other Surfaces
6.6 Regulatory Signs Are Written in a Plain, Polite, and Friendly Manner
6.7 Library Cards Contain Useful Information and Employ the Library’s Visual Language
6.8 First-Time Visitors Can Easily Locate All Parts of the Library
6.9 Additional Reading

7. Online Presence
7.1 Members Can Easily Search for Library Items and Place Holds
7.2 Members Can Easily Accomplish Critical Tasks
7.3 The Size of Your Website Is Commensurate with the Amount of Effort You Can Devote to It
7.4 Web Content Is Engaging
7.5 Content Is Written for the Web
7.6 Website Employs Web Design Conventions
7.7 Home Page Clearly Expresses What People Can Do on Your Site
7.8 Website Is Easy to Use on All Devices
7.9 Website Employs the Library’s Visual Language
7.10 You Use Social Media in Meaningful Ways
7.11 Additional Reading

8. Using the Library
8.1 The Technology in Your Library Is Relevant, Useful, and Usable
8.2 Collections Are Relevant to Member Needs
8.3 Marketing Materials Are Relevant to Member Needs
8.4 You Merchandize Your Materials
8.5 Library Services and Programs Solve Problems
8.6 Additional Reading

9. Wrapping Up: Philosophy, Process, and Culture
9.1 Whole Library Thinking
9.2 The Design Process
9.3 Your Organizational Culture
9.4 Parting Words