Paper details

Matching Content with User Intent

Session coordinator: Martin Lhoták, Academy of Sciences Library, Czech Republic

Where: 27. 5. 2009, 14.15 - 17.25, Vencovsky Aula

Encourage Users into the Library

Autor: Zuzana Helinsky, Zh Consulting, Sweden



Recent research shows that the 70% to 80% of new product development that fails does so not for lack of advanced technology but because of a failure to understand users: Professor Eric von Hippel (Harvard Business Review, February 2007).
We do of course allow people come into the library, rather we really want them to visit the library, physically or at least virtually.
But there must not be too many of them, they shouldn’t talk too loudly, they shouldn’t ask too many vague or demanding questions about e-media, they shouldn’t eat, use mobiles or drink, they should respect copyright and so on.
Of course, there have to be some rules, and we do need to take account of how many staff we have, what our service options are, what variety of media we can provide and so on.
The problem is that we sometimes start our planning obsessed by this sort of problem. What about changing tack completely, and starting out by trying to see things from our users' point of view?
We should really start by listening to what our users say, by watching them, asking what it is they really want from us and by trying to understand their needs. In a nutshell the change would be not to start with what we already have available and what we can already provide.

My longstanding passion is the vital need to “Kill your darlings”, which means eliminating some of our current services and routines - not because we are not interested, nor because we are just mean librarians wanting a nice easy life, but so as to find time to  LISTEN to our users, and to really find out what they want and we what should be working on for the future. Innovation is 10% new ideas and 90% hard work (Technik). This hard work is first the gathering of users' wishes and suggestions and then thoroughly evaluating them - because of course we are the ones who ultimately make all the decisions, and that is how it must be. So I am not suggesting total user power, I am just advocating finding time to evaluate our customers' suggestions, to explore ways of using them more positively and to adapt our products and services accordingly. This is really hard work, but I am convinced that it is very rewarding.

About author:

Zuzana Helinsky is a director of zh Consulting a company specialising in services to the publishing and library community. She is a qualified librarian, with wide international business experience. For the last 20 years she has had a variety of jobs providing services to libraries around the world. Zuzana speaks regularly at international conferences and lectures for seminars and business classes.
She was Director of Publisher Relations for Prenax Global, the international and innovative subscription management company. From the mid 90’s she was Manager of International Business for BTJ, Sweden’s largest library service company. In the mid 80’s she created and managed BTJ’s subscription service, which had grown to 20 million dollars.    
Arriving in Sweden from the Czech Republic in 1969, she gained a degree in Philology and History at Lund University and has a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science from Boras Bibliotekshogskola. She worked for several years in a variety of posts in the serials department at the University of Lund.
Zuzana’s mother tongue is Czech and she is also fluent in Russian, Swedish and English. She is a member of the Editorial Board of Serials – the journal of the United Kingdom Serials Group.

Other papers in this session:

See It, Hear It: Multimedia Search Goes Beyond Text

Author: Marydee Ojala, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals, USA - a Gateway to Resource in the World's Libraries

Author: Vivien Cook, OCLC EMEA, the Netherlands

Semantic Search is More Closely?

Author: Vilém Sklenák, University of Economics, Czech Republic

Ontology in Memory Institutions. Vision or Reality

Author: Nadežda Andrejčíková, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava - Faculty of Informatics and Information Technologies, Slovak Republic

Engage Your User

Author: Pavel Kocourek, INCAD, spol. s r.o., Czech Republic