eGathering Speaker Profile – Amanda L. Goodman, Darien Library

Amanda_GoodmanIn our ongoing eGathering profile series, we go one-on-one with each of our speakers to gain more insight into their professional background, areas of expertise, and presentation topic through short 5 question interviews.

Amanda L. Goodman is a public librarian, UX expert and podcaster. Amanda is the user experience (UX) librarian at Darien Library, a public library in Connecticut. In addition to building websites in WordPress and Drupal, she wrote The Comparative Guide to WordPress in Libraries: A LITA Guide and a Library Technology Report on Digital Media Labs in Libraries. In her joint presentation with Michael Schofield, Designing for User Experience, the pair provide a holistic introduction to the fundamentals of user experience design, how to evaluate your library with no-budget usability heuristics, and convince decision makers to focus on the users’ needs first.

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How did you wind up working in and with libraries?

My undergraduate degree is in Multimedia Arts and Sciences which covered 2D and 3D animation, web design, and video production. These skills are extremely useful in my work as a librarian, but useless when I graduated during the Great Recession. I attended a local job fair and wound up on the local news as a face of “has college degree but can’t find work.” Thus sharply motivated, I took career assessments to help me figure out what to do next. Libraries came up as my number one repeatedly. So while I went to grad school because I needed to eat, it turned out that I really liked the profession. There’s lots of opportunity for me to grow and learn. I have really found myself since starting on this path.

How do you stay motivated when working on a project?

Deadlines are very motivating. While it’s satisfying to get to the end result, I enjoy the process of creation so much that I like to linger there. Deadlines keep me from doing that.

What do you view as the primary objective of your work?

From the outside, user experience (UX) design can appear to be about adhering to an almost formulaic approach of improving touchpoints between a business/product and an individual. You go through a checklist to make sure that your signage is useful, the library is clean, and patrons come away with a positive impression of the library. However, helping people directly is what I love best. These singular moments can be helping an entrepreneur see how to launch their digital platform, formatting resumes, or digitizing memories,  all which excite people. While patrons enjoy a great experience using the library’s resources, they are also building relationships with the staff. So for me, when I find a new resource that I think would appeal to a patron, I tell them about it. This level of care is repeated amongst all our staff, so we are cultivating a personal user experience for our patrons. I find this to be the heart of UX — showing patrons that we care. We remember them. We want to help. That’s the primary objective of my work.

Why are you excited to speak at the LYRASIS eGathering?

I have experience with LYRASIS’ work thanks to their support for digitizing library collections. So this invitation to talk about UX at the eGathering is personally thrilling for me. Otherwise, Michael and I have been talking about UX with our LibUX project for a year now. UX is a current hot topic in libraries, but it can be overwhelming. We hope that our presentation to the LYRASIS eGathering attendees will make them feel more confident about improving patrons’ experiences. You can start small — for any budget. But the first obstacle is convincing people of the importance of UX.

What is your best piece of advice for getting started in UX? 

Start small. Chip away at one small hurdle at a time. While completely revamping your website may make a huge improvement in UX, that takes time, money, and lots of user research. So if you want to get started today, go in for the basics like improving your signage then work your way out to the big items.

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