Tag Archives: Betty Thomas

Thomas Receives Lucile Elliott Scholarship Award

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Betty Thomas, Reference Librarian at Charlotte School of Law, has been awarded the Lucile Elliott Scholarship. The scholarship, sponsored by the Southeastern Chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries (SEAALL), was established to provide financial aid to improve one’s career in law librarianship. Part of the purpose of this award is to encourage recipients to remain in the profession.  The selection committee considered the length of membership in SEAALL, participation and service to the library profession, and the intended use of the scholarship. Thomas will be using the scholarship to attend the SEAALL Annual Meeting and Conference in April in Lexington, Kentucky. As a requirement of the scholarship Betty will be writing an article for the chapter’s quarterly newsletter, Southeastern Law Librarian.  Betty says she is “honored to receive the Lucile Elliott Scholarship and excited about going to SEAALL.”

Betty is also appreciative of the significant support from the management of the Charlotte School of Law in helping her achieve this recognition.

 

Betty Thomas

Betty Thomas, Part-Time Reference Librarian

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Library Sidebar & Coffee Event: “The Legacy of Justice Ginsburg: Unfinished Business for Women’s Rights”

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There is debate as to who was the first woman lawyer in the United States.  Some count Margaret Brent who served as counsel to Lord Baltimore, Governor of Massachusetts.  Arabella Mansfield, in 1869, became the first woman to officially obtain a state license (Iowa) which permitted her to practice law. According to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession, by the late 1990s, there were nearly 17,500 women in the legal profession and there have been four women who have served as justices on the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court.

Please join Professor Barbara Bernier on Monday, March 23 between 11-Noon in the East Reading Room of the Library as she discusses the influences women have had on the legal profession and what unfinished business is left.

If you can’t attend the coffee talk, then take a moment when you’re in the library next to browse our related book display.

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Above is the book display that is currently in the library hallway near the East Reading Room. The poster above the books is a photograph of women suffragists picketing in front of the White House. Next to it is a photo of the current U.S. Supreme Court justices including three women: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. The top shelf of books are from the Charlotte Law collection on basic women’s rights through history; the middle shelf highlights the biographies of women judges and justices who have paved the way for current women in the law; and the bottom shelf has books and reports helpful to women practicing law today. A Charlotte Observer article about Sonia Sotomayor’s recent visit to Davidson College has been added. The books in this display are available for check out.

~Susan Catterall & Betty Thomas~

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What is Library User Experience (LUX)?

Aaron Schmidt writes a regular column “The User Experience” in Library Journal. He is principal of Influx Library User Experience, a consulting firm that helps libraries integrate UX design. And last year his book with Amanda Etches Useful, Usable, Desirable: Applying User Experience Design to Your Library was published by the American Library Association. Since the Charlotte School of Law Library is implementing a Library User Experience (LUX) concept, Schmidt and Etches’ book is a timely resource.

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As the authors explain, user experience is simply how “someone feels when using a product or service.” The term comes from the importance of exceptional customer service for business success. For example, people interact with a company or its products in lots of different ways. You might get an email from a company or see the new product on the company’s website or see a store display or talk to a salesperson. All these interactions with the company and/or the product are considered touchpoints. The goal is for the customer to have a great experience. Thus the company has to manage all these touchpoints or interactions with the customer to ensure the customer has a positive experience.

Similarly in libraries, there are a lot of touchpoints to manage:  website, catalog, signage, library workers, collection, databases, furniture, classes, email, telephone and so on.

Three Elements

As the book’s title suggests, there are three elements of good user experience: useful, usable and desirable.  Useful.  A product or service has to solve a problem or satisfy a need for the user to have a great experience.  Usable. The library’s services and products must be easy to use or at least not a frustrating experience. Desirable. People must need or want the product or service provided. It does not matter if the service is useful and usable if it is not desired by the user. All three of these elements are linked together.

Eight Principles of Library User Experience

  1. You are not your user. When designing spaces, services, or interfaces, libraries have to keep the users in mind. Schmidt points out that making changes with the librarians’ point of view is bound to fail. The question to ask is: How will this change help our users?
  2. The user is not broken. In the past, librarians had to mediate or teach users to do any of the functions in a library. A good example was command line searching in a database like Dialog. Under the user experience principle, if the user has to be taught how to do something, it is the process that is broken, not the user.
  3. Good user experience requires research. Only by observing the library’s users to learn more about them and about how they use the library can librarians adjust current services and create better experiences.
  4. Building a good user experience requires empathy. Librarians need to walk a mile in our students’ shoes to really understand their feelings. In 2008 Brian Herzog started a “Work like a Patron Day” with the goal of encouraging library workers to experience the library the way users do, from working at public computers to using the bathrooms. This is the first step to empathy. The second step of caring about these experiences relies on careful hiring.
  5. A good user experience must be easy before it can be interesting. In the world of Information Technology, this translates to functionality first before the nice page layout. This idea translates to all the touchpoints in the library.
  6. Good user experience design is universal. Universal Design (UD) is the concept that environments should work well for people with disabilities as well as people without disabilities. The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University gives seven principles at their website: http://www.ncsu.edu/ncsu/design/cud/about_ud/udprinciplestext.htm

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  7. Good user experience design is intentional. Everything in a library (physical and virtual) should be designed with the user in mind and for a specific reason. This includes everything from the trash receptacles to the circulation desk.
  8. Good user experience design is holistic. Good user experience design is more than just good customer service. It extends to all the touchpoints mentioned at the beginning of this blog piece. It also extends to how your users feel just being in the library and how the library is able to help them accomplish their goals.

With a lot of thought, the authors considered what to call the people who use the library. Details like this are important to user experience design. They considered the terms: patron, student, user, and customer but decided the best term to be member. Member is positive and evokes a sense of belonging and ownership. The Darien Public Library in Darien, Connecticut has had success using this term in their user experience conversion.

The rest of the book is based on these principles. There are sections on evaluating and improving the physical space, service points, policies and customer service, signage and wayfinding, online presence, and using the library. As a very practical guide, the book includes a scorecard system for self-evaluation.

More information on each of these areas will come in a series of future blog posts.

~Betty Thomas~

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The Hunt Library at Age Two

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Librarians are always interested in new developments and “the library of the future. “ In an earlier blog post about North Carolina State University’s state of the art Hunt Library, the focus was on where the students were and what areas they use in the library. The James B. Hunt Library is beautiful with the latest in storage and retrieval system for storing most of the collection, allowing lots of space for collaborative areas and individual study.

As a follow-up, I attended a speech by Patrick Deaton who is responsible for overseeing the design, construction, and furnishing of all North Carolina State University Libraries facilities, including the Hunt Library at a North Carolina Library Association Mini-Conference. The title of his presentation was The Hunt Library at Age Two: Lessons for Your Library.  Some of the lessons they learned in the process; some of the things that did not go right; and finally, some suggestions for noise abatement that would be helpful for any library follow:

Lessons Learned

  1. Start with a strong and clear vision for the project. Promote that vision as much as you can. Susan Nutter, Vice Provost and Director of Libraries created the vision “We plan for the Hunt library to be nothing less than the best learning and collaborative space in the nation.”
  1. Hire the best project team you can find. Be creative in the selection process. At NCSU, they invited the finalists to come for a weekend and gave them a hypothetical project that they had to create and present at the end of the weekend. The building committee dropped in to ask questions and get an idea of how it would be to work together for four years.
  1. Question assumptions!! They questioned everything including size, placement, function, location, budget, and even the need for the project.
  1. Use experts and artists for special aspects of your project. They involved local artists, a graphic designer to make sure there was a consistent appearance in brochures and signage, a furniture designer, and commissioned a painting to be created on site.
  1. Use mock-ups and testing to assist with design making. They built a full size mock-up of the Ask Us service point to test it at the Hill Library. Also, using a design from the University of Edinburgh, they created 3 full sized mock ups of different sizes of the study pods pictured in the earlier blog post.

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  1. Use bold colors and a variety of furniture to create unique places like the Ask Us service point pictured above and Spun chair below.

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  1. Consider the details, everything matters.

Real Lessons Learned

  1. Include some un-programmed space to accommodate future needs. He suggested having a creative name for this area on the plans. For example, they did not anticipate plans for a makerspace.
  1. If you are sharing the building with other agencies or departments, document in the form of a memo of understanding everything related to the use of those shared spaces.
  1. Think about the acoustics between study rooms and staff offices.
  1. Audio visual equipment installation and programming takes a lot more time than anticipated.
  1. Be prepared for lots of visitors. The Hunt Library has a librarian who just does tours.

Quiet Control Ideas

With the bookbot containing most of the print collection, the library has a substantial amount of collaborative spaces. The question asked was how they control noise or how other libraries could control noise.

  1. Deaton’s first response was that the students at NC State self-regulate noise issues. If students are making too much noise in a study room, students will take responsibility to resolve the problem by letting those students know that they are disturbing others.
  1. As mentioned earlier, they realized after construction that there needed to be an acoustic separation between staff offices and adjacent study rooms. This problem was lessened with white noise and the physical construction of the wall. He indicated some places fill the walls with sand.
  1. Another easy idea that can be done post construction was to install fabric wrapped panels especially in study rooms. The lecture room in which we were meeting also had these same fabric panels to absorb sound.
  1. Where there are long study tables, spacing chairs apart signals that these are not communal areas and adding clear Plexiglas dividers to tables can separate students. The new UNC Charlotte Center City Library has these type dividers.
  1. White noise generators is another option as are tent cards on tables indicting quiet areas.

We are really fortunate to have such a state-of-the-art library within easy distance. Recently Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and Emory University announced a joint venture to house a shared collection on the campus of Emory University.

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Similar to NC State, high density storage will free up space at both campuses’ main libraries “to provide space and services for the 21st century.”

 ~Betty Thomas~

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New Arrival! New Book!

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North Carolina Local Government Contracting: Quick Reference and Related Statutes

A quick reference for the contracting, bidding, and property disposal requirements applicable to North Carolina local governments, this publication provides general guidance to public officials and others interested in the public contracting process. Selected North Carolina General Statutes governing contracting and bidding are also included. The table of contents can be found at http://sogpubs.unc.edu/electronicversions/pdfs/nclgcontractingtoc.pdf.

Written by Norma R. Houston and published by the UNC School of Government, this 2014 guide has been added to the Charlotte School of Law Library collection. After being on display, the book can be found in the Reference Carolinas section of the library.

We would especially like to thank Charlotte School of Law alumnus, Emery Ashley for donating this very practical resource to our collection!  Be sure to check it out!

~Betty Thomas~

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