I joined the Robert E. Kennedy Library Information Technology team in Fall 2015 as a designer and researcher. My tasks included creating strategies to improve the Library website's mobile experience and testing/analyzing user data. This project is part of a longer term academic initiative to implement a sustainable digital preservation program. I was responsible for redesigning the access of Cal Poly’s Special Collections and Archives as well as researching the access of online library databases for students, faculty, and researchers. The development of Robert E. Kennedy Library's website is an ongoing process and my contributions set foundations for the new mobile, tablet, and desktop experiences.
The final goals for the project include: a working document that outlines how to incorporate design into library technology projects; an increased understanding of the design and library fields by all of the participants; increased confidence from the librarians about collaborating with designers; and a prototype for providing access to archives and special collections. Both the resulting product and the process will be evaluated to identify key lessons learned from design and library perspectives. A white paper, written for a broad audience of both library professionals and designers, will share the format/structure of the interactions, a description of the prototype(s), insights from qualitative primary user testing, and pointers/protocols (i.e., "do's and don'ts") learned from the project.
The primary goal to achieve was to create guidelines for future collaboration between librarians/archivists and designers en route to incorporating user experience design into library/archive projects. The secondary outcome was the development and early prototyping of a new digital tool or method for providing access to archives and special collections materials. The key overarching question posed to the team was, “How can the Archives better meet users’ needs through digital technologies?” The project unfolded in four major stages: (1) initial 1-day brainstorming workshop (with follow-up working sessions as needed) to bring designers together with library/archive staff to begin to explore user needs in the Archives and to frame the designers’ assignment; (2) a 14-week development period in which the combined library-design team generates and refines concepts into prototypes; (3) assessment and evaluation of results; and (4) writing/dissemination of white paper with accompanying visuals.