So what does a UX Librarian do anyway?

I’ve been in my new job as UX Librarian at Cambridge Judge Business School Information and Library Services for just over two months now so I thought it was high time I wrote about what I actually do.

The TL;DR version: lots!

I first heard about the UX job when Andy Priestner blogged about it, which instantly made me realise that this was a job like no other! So I applied, interviewed and was thrilled to be offered the role. Part of my interview involved a presentation on what I thought about UX in Libraries which I have included below.

I am mainly responsible for generating new initiatives and support that improve the effective and efficient delivery of services. What this actually means is a bit more complex. Also, as you’ll see from the above presentation, UX can mean different things to different people, especially if you’re coming at it from a design perspective or a computing angle.

Over the past few months I have:

  • Answered many complex enquiries from a wide range of students and staff
  • Offered specialist support to our Executive MBA students, a group that I have particular responsibility for
  • Overhauled the I&LS blog (on-going), reviewed our communications policy and pestered Facebook into changing our page name to fit the new School branding
  • Done lots of teaching and filmed a Youtube video on how to use LinkedIn effectively
  • Advised and collaborated on new ways of teaching research skills to remote students via VLE
  • Helped out with lots and lots and LOTS of promotional activities, ranging from social media plugs to postcard campaigns
  • Tried to get will.i.am to come to Cambridge
  • Conducted 1-2-1 career and interview prep sessions
  • Compiled profiles on various Chinese companies to support teaching
  • Presented about user services at the i2c2 in Manchester
  • Carried out extensive UX testing of the I&LS website
  • Developed further UX website testing with the aim of getting real people in to experiment with
  • Taken part in teaching space and building workshops
  • Developed content creation strategies and cohesive comms approaches
  • Constructed (with a team) an extensive Social Media Driving Licence training programme for staff
  • Taught fellow librarians about effective education and outreach
  • Started the planning stages of a UX conference
  • Advised Faculty on blogging tools and methods
  • Consulted on a new School-wide documentation retention and digital archiving project
  • …and much more!

This list isn’t an attempt to show off and toot my own horn, but I hope it shows the really wide range of work I’m engaged in, and just over the past two months! I still have loads of projects that are on-going and some that I haven’t even started yet.

Thomas Hawk via Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/205664675/

A really big part of my role is to do with applying research methods, such as ethnography, to the information service within which I work. I’m really looking forward to tackling this, as well as doing work to develop user personas and other research-heavy work which will allow for me to use the scientific method in a big way and hopefully develop new initiatives that not only work, but are also backed up by actual data rather than “gut feelings” which sometimes may be wrong!

I’m also supporting my immediate community with regards to effective Research Data Management and Open Access advice and I hope to built on this support and start engaging with researchers in a big way over the next few months.

My job is unusual in that I am part of the Information and Library Services team but I also sit slightly outside of that team too. I help with the day-to-day running of the service by doing enquiries work and occasionally staffing the enquiries desk, but a lot of my work is taken up with lots of strategy meetings, chats with other teams from around the school and trying to make new collaborative connections so I can work on new projects with people and really show off how our team can help people with their work and research.

The team that I work with is fantastic and everyone has their own skill sets and specialisms and now I’ve got used to knowing who to ask about what, I’m able to use all of that varied knowledge to push new ideas and test out if new ways of working will…well…work!

Credit: Ramnath Bhat (CC Flickr) http://www.flickr.com/photos/ramnath1971/11111089074/

A lot of my work is very creative and innovative so I have a lot of fun thinking up new ways of doing things and I am really supported by my boss, Andy, to push against the norm and to really think outside of the box. I hate that phrase but the library world can be a really restrictive “box”, so trying to think of new and creative ways to push against the more negative service approaches can be daunting but also really rewarding.

So, I will blog more about all the various projects I’m getting up to as time progresses. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the Social Media Driving Licence works out as we are planning on running it as a staff CPD course over Summer 2014. I feel that social media can do great things if used effectively, and hopefully the course I’m helping design will not only encourage people to use social media but also give them the tools to use it really well, with minimal drain on their working days.

Disclaimer: Of course, my experience of being a UX Librarian and all the variety that it offers will probably be completely different to other UX roles. I’ve written purely from my own experience and this post does not summarise ALL UX work in libraries.

Image credits

1. Nathanael Boehm (CC Flickr)

2. Thomas Hawk (CC Flickr)

3. Ramnath Bhat (CC Flickr)

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