Responding to Rapid Change in Libraries: A User Experience Approach

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Library leaders can ensure their institutions stay ahead of rapid change and increasing service expectations with the strategies, tools, and holistic approach presented in this book.  

Read an interview with the authors now!

In the face of rapid change and an ever-widening constellation of challenges, it’s crucial for library leaders to pull back to the question of “why?” Plotting a sustainable way forward depends upon recommitting ourselves to our underlying values, such as customer service and community-building, while fostering the improvements that change makes possible. With passion, patience, and fortitude, libraries can stride confidently into the future. In this book, noted speakers and consultants Bignoli and Stara speak directly to library directors, managers, administrators, and technology staff, offering concrete guidance on setting or resetting strategic priorities. Taking an interconnected and specific approach to planning for and strengthening the library environment as a whole, their book

  • discusses why libraries should embrace change as a fundamental part of library life; 
  • explores how to harness rapid change to provide more responsive, user-centered library service;
  • addresses the ways in which libraries straddle the physical and the digital, in areas such as service provision and collections, illuminating how they overlap and can be improved using similar philosophies;
  • presents both a comprehensive overview of library technologies as well as related team and change management advice, all grounded in user experience principles;
  • shows how the concepts of sustainability and flexibility apply to physical space planning and design, from furniture selection and arrangement to infrastructure; and
  • provides sound guidance on project management, problem solving, preparing for future challenges, personal reflection and self-care, and other leadership topics.

Introduction: Why This Book?

Part I: Passion
Chapter 1    Customer Service Expectations in the Twenty-First Century
Chapter 2    Users at the Center of Everything

Part II: Patience 
Chapter 3    Leading the Way in the Face of Change
Chapter 4    Library Technology
Chapter 5    Physical Spaces

Part III: Fortitude
Chapter 6    Project Management and Problem Solving
Chapter 7    Horizon Scanning for Threats

Epilogue: It’s Never Perfect and It’s Never Done 

Callan Bignoli

Callan Bignoli is the director of the library at Olin College of Engineering in Needham, MA. She was previously the assistant director of a busy three-branch public library (Brookline, MA) and worked at the state library agency in Massachusetts (Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners). Callan explores the intersections of digital and physical library user experience and strives to provide staff with the tools, training, and support they need to stay nimble and well-equipped.

Lauren Stara

Lauren Stara is a Library Building Specialist with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, helping public libraries around the Commonwealth improve their physical spaces. A registered architect and a librarian, she has worked in and/or consulted for libraries in eight US states, three Canadian provinces, and three Eastern European countries. She has taught at library schools in Canada and Bulgaria, and she speaks and presents frequently on library design, design thinking and service design.

"A quick read that encourages accepting uncertainty and imperfect results to build resilience. Will appeal broadly to librarians, particularly those in management and leadership positions."
—Library Journal

"The book is written with humor and a lovely snarkiness that picks away at archaic library traditions. The authors address ways and realities that can provide an improved user experience for library patrons as well as staff ... This title is a great addition to any library professional's shelf."
— Journal of Hospital Librarianship

”Has something for everyone who contends with library issues. The reader and this reviewer are reminded that the library is not meant to be designed to suit our needs but that it should meet and service the needs for the majority of users. It can be scary and cumbersome to deal with, but the needs of users will constantly change and we are required to build and design flexibility into our libraries (including the people, the organization, and the building) to recognize and meet these needs. Bignoli and Stara succeed in delivering this message in clear to understand language."
— Technical Services Quarterly