I once heard a librarian discussing their 12-year old’s son frustration with their Public Library website. He was researching a school assignment and the database he was using stated he needed to be in the library to use it. His frustrated cry ‘But I AM in the library!’ reminds us all that the user experience of our websites and catalogues can be confusing and frustrating.

For our users, they are ‘In the #Library’ when using our #digital platforms, digital #libraries and digital content and yet for our staff and often our rules these users are not considered as ‘In the Library’. Click To Tweet

Poor Digital User Experiences

Public Libraries are often locked into different, and sometimes less than satisfactory, digital user experiences due to the limitation of their content vendors’ licences, platforms, apps or players.  We can often feel powerless in these discussions as for librarians, content can trump the user experience and we really want the content for our users.

The effect of traditional #library rules and procedures around membership, often predicated on a pre-digital era construct and never changed, affects access to the #digital content libraries purchase as well. Click To Tweet

This can lead to a poor user experience in these platforms as often libraries have failed to consider an end to end user experience when purchasing access to digital content.

Given the state of play in other content provider experiences that our communities access I believe this needs to change. Public Libraries need to revisit the way we do business and think more about how our business practices and rules affect both our physical user and our digital user. We need to blend the user experience more and design our websites with the user experience at the centre.

#Libraries need to think more about how our business practices affect both our physical user and our #digital user and start to blend the user experience more and to design websites with the user experience at the centre. Click To Tweet

Because our users do not differentiate the experience.  They are ‘In The Library’ in their minds when in our websites, in our physical buildings or on our content provider platforms.

Taking advantage of digital technologies

Taking advantage of digital technologies to drive new customer value is as important as good customer service at the physical library service building. One of the major challenges facing libraries becoming digital first is the need to act and respond fast. This is not the norm in library services usually.  Our communication and decision-making structures often get in the way of acting quickly. I recently discovered that the Library Management System at my new library can automatically renew our library members’ items based on our set parameters.  This had not been turned on. Because no-one had asked the question, and no-one asked the question because it would reduce the revenue from fines.

It will be turned on now as I believe this violates the trust that our members place in us. Does your LMS automatically renew?  Have you asked the question?

This week’s poll: Which one is more important for your library?

The physical collection
The digital collection
Both are equally important
Curious what the others voted? The results will be shared next week on our blog, so stay tuned! Subscribe to our blog to receive the results directly in your e-mail box or find us on social media via Facebook or Twitter . 
Created with Quiz Maker

In a competing digital landscape, libraries need to focus on their impact and the added value that digital can bring to the customer experience. Do not fall not the trap of just bringing the efficiency mindset to the table.

Libraries can no longer just use the ‘It’s Free’ card. #libraries #librarians Click To Tweet

If we look at the value and the impact of what we are aiming to achieve then this helps to frame the parameters of the design, rules and focus of both our digital and physical library services.

One of the key aspects that libraries have control over is how our members access our content. Empowering our members to easily access the content is an important first step.

Questions for you

Key questions to explore on behalf of your members are:

How easy is it to become a member of the library? Do you have a digital only membership where I can join and just borrow eContent? I can upgrade to borrow physical items by visiting the library but until I can visit can I still borrow immediately?

Do you treat equally your physical and digital collections? Take the #POLL at the bottom of the page and let us know what you think. Click To Tweet

How easy is it for me to find the digital collections on the website?  Do I have to search library jargon to find the content? Can I easily search the catalogue and “digital only” is highlighted to match my digital membership if I am logged in?  Are the digital resources intuitively found with easy to use video How To’s?