Mark your calendars! ADSL Afternoon Chat: Instruction and Assessment

ADSL Afternoon Chat: Instruction and Assessment in Art & Design Libraries

Wednesday, October 26, 3pm EST // 12pm PST (via GoToMeeting)

Link to chat: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/262611149


Join the ADSL for an afternoon chat on Wednesday, October 26 from 3-4pm EST/12-1pm PST. Our conversation will focus on issues with teaching and assessment in art and design school libraries, as students and learners navigate the studio, the classroom, and professional spaces.

Prior to the chat, ADSL will share a set of guiding questions to shape the discussion, as well as a “recommended reading” list. We’ll post further details closer to the chat date; in the meantime, if you have a suggested reading or question to address, please share it in the comments!

Questions to consider:

  • What do you think are the biggest challenges to teaching to artists and designers (or in an art & design context) as compared to more traditional applications of library/information literacy instruction?
    • Resources — both for teaching support and research tools?
    • Faculty expectations?
  • What are some of the opportunities with teaching in these settings? What makes this interesting and exciting?
    • What innovative approaches or tactics can we employ?
  • How are the needs of student artists and designers changing (if at all), and how does instruction adapt to these changes?
  • Does your library have a formalized program for assessing library instruction?
  • How do you assess the impact of instruction when the output may not be a traditional research paper or project?

 

Suggested Readings:

Wang, Rui. “Assessment for One-Shot Library Instruction: A Conceptual Approach.portal: Libraries and the Academy, vol. 16, no. 3, 2016, pp. 619-648. (Alternate link: OA preprint version)

Gendron, Heather and Sclippa, Eva. “Where Visual and Information Literacies Meet: Redesigning Research Skills Teaching and Assessment for Large Art History Survey Courses.” Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, vol. 33, no. 2, 2014, pp. 327-344.

Halverson, Aniko. “Confronting information literacy in an academic arts library.” Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, vol. 27, no. 2, 2008, pp. 34-38.

Murphy, Sarah Anne. “How data visualization supports academic library assessment: three examples from The Ohio State University Libraries using Tableau.” College & Research Libraries News, vol. 76, no. 9, pp. 482-486, 2015.

Reale, Michelle. “‘Hands-off’ teaching: facilitating conversation as pedagogy in library instruction.Digital Pedagogy Lab, 28 September 2016.

ALA Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT) Top Twenty: 2015’s best library instruction articles.

 

Art and design school library visual identity

Art and design schools are keen to establish and promote their individual visual identities.  Do libraries at these institutions need to follow suit?  At The New School, where half of the student body is enrolled at Parsons School of Design, communications are highly visual.  In the spring of 2015, the university commissioned Pentagram to design a new typeface (“Neue”), logos, and Pantone color (“Parsons Red”), for the university.

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The New School’s new logo designed by Pentagram, 2015

 The Neue typeface was met with positive reviews from Tobias Frere-Jones at Typographica and Armin at UnderConsideration. (The comments section is another matter: the words “fascinatingly ugly” were used to describe the new design.)  However, the new identity put the libraries in a bit of a conundrum.  

BookScanCenter

Bookmarks from The New School Libraries and Archives, 2013

Just a year earlier, before Neue was born, we had printed bookmarks as promotional materials to accompany our move to the new University Center (read about it in an earlier blog post by Kira Appel).  This bookmark uses the angular design of the University Center façade as its motif, and looked to its interior walls for its color scheme.  Should we continue to use these bookmarks that had become obsolete more quickly than an iPhone?  In the interest of sustainability, we decided to continue to distribute the bookmarks at computer workstations as “scrap paper” until they run out.  The bookmarks do appear to be used, as evidenced by their being tucked inside a large number of the books that are returned to the library.  

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Stack signs in “Irma” and “Neue” typefaces, University Center Library, 2016

Next to change were our environmental graphics.  Our shelf labels were updated with the new typeface.  

website

The New School Libraries and Archives website, library.newschool.edu, 2016

Then there the task of updating our online presence.  Our library technology department redesigned the website with the help of the marketing department of The New School, which distributed Neue to the University.  A custom logo was also created for the Libraries.  The new logo is used in our PowToon videos on Youtube (although we used one of PowToon’s typefaces, Nexa, which is the most similar to Neue, in our videos).

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The New School Libraries and Archives logo

Finally, we updated our email signatures with the style and format that is being used university-wide.   When it comes to printed material, librarians each take an individual approach when creating and distributing handouts that support instruction.

Does your institution promote the use of any specific logos, typefaces, or colors?  Does your library (1) adhere to the same visual identity as the school; (2) have its own, separate visual identity; (3) have multiple identities, depending on library function or division; or (4) doesn’t really have a defined approach to visual identity?

Mark your calendars! ADSL Afternoon Chat next Tuesday

ADSL Afternoon Chat: Makerspaces and Alternative Modes of Outreach in Art & Design Libraries

Tuesday, August 2, 3pm EST // 12pm PST (via GoToMeeting)


Join the ADSL for an afternoon chat on the topic of makerspaces and alternative modes of outreach and engagement next Tuesday, August 2 from 3-4pm EST/12-1pm PST. Whether you’re a veteran of the maker movement or a true newbie, you’re invited to bring your questions, ideas, and experiences with adapting library spaces to foster art practices and experimentation.

Prior to the chat, ADSL will share a set of guiding questions to shape the discussion. In the meantime, you can learn more about makerspaces and alternative engagement below. (Want to suggest a reading? Let us know in the comments!)

Link to meeting: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/825326981

Questions to consider:

  1. How do you or your institution define “makerspaces” and other initiatives for active,  “real-time” learning in the library? (Or, what do you think should be the intent of makerspaces?) How might these notions differ between art & design schools and more traditional academic institutions?
  2. How have you adapted or created new library services to serve the evolving needs of artists and makers? How do you keep abreast of new modes of creation and scholarship in the arts (e.g. new media, digital humanities projects) to be able to adapt or develop library services?
  3. Within your academic community, who are the most frequent users or participants in these spaces or outreach services? Who do you wish were a greater presence, contributor, or collaborator?
  4. How do you assess the impact of your makerspaces and outreach? What are your metrics for success?
  5. What are the potential critical issues with makerspaces and other forms of project-focused learning spaces in libraries? What can makerspaces, beta spaces, and other creative library spaces do to foster critical inquiry and scholarship, where learning extends beyond the tools and continues even after the “thing” is made?

Recommended Readings:

Dickerson, Madelynn. Beta Spaces as a Model for Recontextualizing Reference Services in Libraries. In the Library with the Lead Pipe, May 2016. http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2016/reference-as-beta-space/

Educause. 7 Things You Should Know about… Makerspaces. Educause Learning Initiative, 2013. https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7095.pdf

Lotts, Megan. Lego Play: Implementing a Culture of Creativity & Making in the Academic Library. ACRL Conference Proceedings 409-418. http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.7282/T3C53NJD

Savannah College of Art and Design: UX + ADSL

JenLibrary_Winter2015_CC_SN_08.jpg

In 2015, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was awarded an Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Leadership Planning Grant to “plan for and create a model for the academic library of tomorrow using user experience (UX) design expertise.” The library, working in tandem with a group of design students, faculty, and consultants, is developing a UX “toolkit” to support libraries (of any size) who wish to utilize UX methods to research, (re)design, and improve their services.1

This project is still in its early stages, and an early iteration of the toolkit will undergo testing this summer. Librarians and staff in different departments within SCAD Libraries will determine and explore a potential project or problem to be investigated and approached through the lens of UX design, using activities and tactics in the toolkit. Librarians will then provide the UX project team with both the results of their projects and their feedback on the toolkit itself.

While the toolkit is not yet ready for implementation, the implications of the project in relation to the current landscape of UX design is worthy of preliminary consideration, especially with regard to art and design libraries.

Defining UX

The terms “user experience design” and “design thinking” appear throughout both design and library design literature. While they are sometimes used interchangeably, their definitions are subtly different, and should be clarified.

User experience can be defined as the “quality of experience a person has when interacting with a specific design” (“design” in this case can refer to a product, a service, or an overall experience in a space).2 Design thinking can then be described as the habits of mind and methodologies that drive UX practices, and what can allow UX design practices and applications to be more responsive and thoughtful.

What separates both UX design and design thinking from more traditional scientific and engineering-driven solutions is the prominence of divergent thinking,3 with designers generating multiple solutions and approaches to problems or questions, often at a quick pace and with the use of rapid prototyping and lo-fi models for testing ideas. (Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is often focused on a single “ideal” solution.4)

UX and Libraries

These principles of UX design likely sound familiar, even for non-designer librarians. Several larger academic libraries have their own UX departments (see Duke, the University of Michigan, Northwestern, Georgia Tech, and NCSU); others employ a UX librarian as part of a larger team of technology or design professionals. Librarians and designers publish their case studies and research broadly across the library literature, with examples of space and service design, web-based projects, and outreach initiatives in both academic and public libraries. Weave: the Journal of Library User Experience, the first peer-reviewed journal for libraries and UX, launched last year.

The discussion of UX specifically in the context of art and design libraries is (understandably) limited. We’re a niche bunch. But would the principles and methods vary all that much, or just the solutions? And what about those standards of UX design that dictate basic practices for web development; can we take for granted that they apply as much in our institutions as with other centers of research? For studio-based practices?

UX research methods include ethnographic studies, which can inform projects and supplement primary, user-centric research. For art and design libraries, we can look to the studies of information-seeking behavior and strategies of student and faculty artists, like those detailed in Tori Gregory’s research of artists in the Southwestern US,5 Christine Larkin’s survey of visual arts scholars,6 or Shannon Robinson’s account of the behaviors of contemporary Egyptian artists.7

Ultimately, though, UX design requires a methodology that is specifically situated in the context of our users and library environments. One UX method, the journey map (or experience map) allows designers and librarians to look at how users interact with our organizations, across physical and virtual spaces, and from the user’s point of view. Through analysis and mapping of user behaviors, this tool helps designers (and librarians) to understand how our spaces and services fit into the patterns of our users’ lives. For example, at SCAD we might seek to improve research support services to graduate fibers students, situated in a studio building over one mile from the library. In this case, the journey map might include a persona, or a main character that represents some of the common characteristics of our fibers students; channels where the student interacts with the library (our website, mobile app, pop-up locations or research services on-site, the library itself); touchpoints, which spotlight where interactions between the student and library actually take place, and what the student is doing (checking out a book, downloading an article); and emotions, charting the flux in the student’s emotions throughout interactions (when a book isn’t where it’s supposed to be; when the download link breaks; when they discover a new, exciting artist after browsing and talking with a librarian).8 Through a holistic analysis of this student’s “journey” through the library spaces, designers might discover an opportunity to develop, improve, or market a service, or have their assumptions about existing services radically challenged.

As we start to adopt these practices, librarians should approach design activities with a critical eye. Consider the library website and catalog, and the implementation of anticipatory design. In business applications, design that considers the “path of least resistance” to connect users with products is key, as is an element of marketing: show them something they want, before they even know they want it. While the idea is tempting, libraries are rightly cautious in fully adopting this model. We’re not looking to be the next Amazon, and should consider the role of design in supporting logical, critical research practices. If our tools only point users in the direction of “what they want,” we run the risk of supporting confirmation bias.  In utilizing UX design with a clear focus on our communities, applying a critical lens to design thinking, and not simply adopting industry standards and practices, we might be able to approach a point of “disruptive design” that removes the technical roadblocks from the research process while fostering those behaviors we encourage in the classroom.

While the SCAD toolkit is being designed to be applicable to libraries of all kinds, there are unique opportunities and constraints at art and design schools. Our institutions tend to be smaller, or a branch library within a larger ecosystem. The research being conducted by our students and faculty similarly follows non-traditional patterns and practices that don’t quite fit within the paradigm of academic research libraries. It will be interesting to see how the particular needs of an art and design library affect the development of the toolkit, and how those particularities can then be applied to broader UX design concerns. Certainly, when it comes to the more liberal practice of design thinking, an art college offers an excellent laboratory for exploring creativity across disciplines, and in the critique of our expectations and practices.

Stephanie Grimm, Research and Instruction Librarian, Savannah College of Art and Design
sgrimm@scad.edu

 

[1] The SCAD UX Toolkit research and development is funded by an Institute for Museum and Library Services “Planning” Grant, grant no. LG-82-15-0166-15.

[2] UXnet.org

[3] Kurian, George Thomas. “Divergent thinking,” AMA Dictionary of Business and Management (2013). ProQuest ebrary.

[4] For an example of divergent thinking in action, see any number of brainstorming or topic-development activities that instruction librarians employ in the classroom.

[5] Gregory, Tori. “Under-served or Under-surveyed: the Information Needs of Studio Art Faculty in the Southwestern United States.” Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of America, 26:2 (Fall 2007).

[6] Larkin, Catherine. “Looking to the Future while Learning from the Past: Information Seeking in the Visual Arts.” Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, 29:1 (Spring 2010).

[7] Robinson, Shannon. “From Hieroglyphs to Hashtags: the Information-Seeking Behaviors of Contemporary Egyptian Artists.” Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, 33:1 (Spring 2014).

[8] For an extended discussion of the Journey Map method, see http://uxmastery.com/how-to-create-a-customer-journey-map/

 

TJ Lyons Typographic Collection @ MassArt

lyons ornament

During the summer of 2015, 2500 metal and 260 wood fonts of type found a new home at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The collection, which was amassed by Boston printer TJ Lyons between the 1920s and 1980s, is the largest of its kind. In addition to the type, Lyons’ collection includes thousands of borders and ornaments.

By preserving and printing with this type, making it available to other printers, and leasing some of the collection to the film headliner industry, Lyons was largely responsible for the revival of the popularity of vintage type.
Many of the fonts in the collection are extremely rare and a few are unique.

You can see some specimens from the collection in Artstor’s Shared Shelf:

TJ Lyons Collection on Shared Shelf

After Lyons’ death in 1986, the collection was bought be David Greer. In 2015 Greer donated the collection to MassArt.

MassArt is a natural home for the collection. The Graphic Design Department boasts excellent letterpress printing facilities, teaches a variety of letterpress classes, and has superb faculty who specialize in letterpress. The surprising element regarding this gift is that is was accepted by the college on the condition that it be an archival, interdisciplinary resource for the whole college community.

Our former Library Director Paul Dobbs assisted professor emeritus Al Gowan in securing the collection. The gift was accepted with no funds to maintain it. The College paid to move the collection to MassArt and is providing 500 square feet of prime real estate to house it, but to date have not budgeted to hire a manager for the collection. The majority of the work done to organize and promote the collection has been done gratis by two faculty members from graphic design, one emeritus and the other adjunct, in consultation with me as the current Chair of the Library. The division of labor looks something like this: they design posters, signage, and provide tours of the collection; I submit budgets, set up funds, and consult the college’s health and safety officer about mold.

On April 26th there will an open house and lecture to celebrate the opening of the collection. While celebrating the opening of the collection feels premature to me, because we really aren’t ready to be “open”, I’m hoping the event will help motivate our administrators to fund a position to manage the collection. And if not, at least it feels like the library is part of what will be a monumental resource to the college and to letterpress enthusiasts everywhere.

If you are in or around Boston on April 26th, please join us.

https://www.facebook.com/events/603463063152265/

 

Gowan, Al. T. J. Lyons: A Biography and Critical Essay. Boston: The Society of Printers, 1987.