Information Online 2007 – Day 1 – Fourth Session

Neil Infield from the British Library gave the late afternoon keynote on the new Business and IP Centre. This innovative program is changing how BL serves their customers and is drawing in people who have never used BL before.

Inspired by the Science, Industry and Business Library at New York Public Library, it came after surveying existing and potential clients who wanted access, advice and training. Investment came from London Development Agency, most of which went into building renovations, to make the space more suitable for this purpose and more welcoming to users. It reinvented the old Business and Patents reading rooms and made an unrivalled business collection available to those who needed it most.

New services include workshops, entrepreneur speaker events, new online databases, guides and leaflets on a wide range of business related topics, 30 minutes 1 on 1 info advice sessions and Ask the Expert session (1hr) with industry experts.

Cultural changes at BL included readers becoming customers, changing staff attitudes, working with the wider BL culture – on opening hours, support, registration, sercurity, working with external partner organisations. Role model to the departments? Depends on who you ask! Includes the creating of an networking open area, plasma screens for announcements etc, laptops for searching, sofas, displaying success stories, bright colours and a range of training rooms. Promotion included the 1st paid advertising ever by BL, posters on the Underground, radio spots and internal publicity at BL.

New approach is to be a collaborator, trainer, facilitator, advisor, problem solver, using a business process and getting out there. Need to be identifying new skills and knowledge for staff and customers. Need to be partnering with external organisations.

Cathy Slaven from QUT spoke on usability testing of their website. Using 5-6 students each time, they had four redesigns of aspects of their website before reaching the optimal result.

They used a link on their website for 2 weeks to recruit students for this test of their new user-centric design. 250 students applied, 22 were used, each of which received a $25 voucher for their time and efforts. The testing involved a PC, webcam, speakers and Camtasia studio to monitor mouse and screen movements. A faciliator led the session, which was observed by one or two staff. 10 test scenarios were conducted on tasks that undergrads were expected would undertake on the library website. The process involved an introduction, signing of a consent form, presentation of the gift voucher, protocal briefing (instructed them to think aloud), the tasks, debriefing interview and signing of a video release form (optional).

Cathy finished by showing some video which clearly illustrated the issues with the website, which weren’t really apparent to us, until we saw the students use them.