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Territorial Thinking

Oct - 17 - 2007
Nicole C. Engard

…[C]an we ever break the boundaries of departmental self-interest? The Reference department has one perspective, while Circulation has another; Systems/IT has their agenda, while Cataloging has another"”and so on. I've worked in several large academic libraries and this territorial thinking seems to be universal. If each department perceives the "user experience" differently than how can we ever truly be user-centered?

This from Brian at Designing Better Libraries.

Brian, I have some good news for you – it’s not every academic library – I have been lucky to find one where if there is territorial thinking – it’s so minimal as to not effect work within the library. When the catalogers want to make a change to the OPAC the other librarians are consulted. Everyone (or at least the decision makers) seems to understand that everyone else has a different perspective to bring and decisions are made together.

That said – does this come back to what I was saying about a well-rounded core curriculum in library school? I know that learning what other departments do doesn’t help you understand the users better, but it does help you understand your colleagues and work more efficiently with them.

As for the user experience – the only way to understand this is to – here’s a shocker – ask the user!!! This is a hot button with me – how often do we ask our users what they want? I’m sure it’s not as often as we sit it closed meetings with our colleagues discussing what we think the user wants/needs.

One Response so far.

  1. [...] the students are consulted, interviewed or even considered regarding library matters. I repeat my comment from this morning: As for the user experience – the only way to understand this is to – here’s a shocker – ask the [...]


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