Sunday 4 May 2014

Librarian Design Challenge 1: Signup

On 1 April, Toby Greenwalt set Librarians the following challenge on his blog theanalogdivide: Create a online library card signup. This is to be the first in a 'semi-regular' design challenge called The Librarian Design Challenge, to encourage more design thinking in the library world. ALIA NSW State Manager Julia Garnett and ALIA Sydney Co-Convenor Amy Croft were inspired to rise to the challenge - meeting in the State Library of NSW on 4 May armed with paper, coloured pens, and a 2-hour study room booking to figure out exactly what libraries and their members need from each other, and how to get members signed up as easily as possible online.

Paper, coloured pens, and info on public libraries

We started by comparing notes on the libraries we work in and have used over the years, to reach a core set of requirements, including the requirement of proving residency set in the challenge. We focused on public libraries, and referred to ALIA's Little Book of Public Libraries to think about what communities need from their local libraries. We agreed that library membership doesn't necessarily require a physical card, as long as we can provide a unique ID number/barcode to allow members to access library resources. We also came up with a few other issues such as one membership for all libraries in the state, overcoming language barriers in explaining membership conditions, differences in signing up children and adults, and ways of securing printing credit with a PIN or password, which were outside the scope of this challenge.

Brainstorming notes
Brainstorming public library membership issues and needs

What the library needs and what the member needs - a membership mindmap

We ended up with a workflow for online membership signup for those using computers, and those using mobile devices. Common features are an easy-to-find 'Join Here' button on the homepage, followed by a brief outline of membership benefits and conditions of membership. Potential members agree to those conditions to get to the membership form itself, where signing up is a 4-step process. This would be on one page for those using a computer, but could be on separate screens for mobile devices.
  1. Provide name
  2. Provide identification by either uploading scanned document(s) or using computer webcam or mobile device camera to provide an image of the documents. One document is photo ID, the other is a bill or bank statement with current address, if this is not already on the photo ID.
  3. Provide contact details (phone number and/or email address)
  4. Confirm signup. This generates a barcode and unique membership number.
The following screen confirms membership, displaying the membership number and barcode, which the new member can print, have it sent to them by email, or have it sent to them by SMS. These barcodes would be compatible with many systems already in place in libraries, accessible as an image file that could be stored on a mobile device. Members who prefer to have a physical card can visit the library to have one made.

Online membership signup - for computer

Online membership signup - for mobile devices
While these are only prototypes, this was a very useful exercise in really thinking about how to make things easier for our users, rather than making our users fit in with our requirements. We look forward to further design challenges!

-Julia Garnett, State Manager (NSW), ALIA
-Amy Croft, Co-Convenor, ALIA Sydney

Further reading on design thinking:

An introduction to design thinking: process guide (pdf) by Michael Shanks, archaeologist at Stanford University and contributor to its famous

Do you have suggestions for improving our designs, or examples of your own designs? Please comment below!

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this post, especially the idea of using a modified mobile app to help run registrations of new users smoothly. In busy public libraries this procedure can be very time consuming and may hold up the line of patrons waiting to borrow books, and can be quite frustrating. Photo ID via a camera snapshot will be very helpful. I found that when I was working in a public library in an area where there were a lot of tourists, Manly Library, I had regular inquiries from temporary visitors and international students whose first language is not English or who were staying or visiting Australia for less than a month and who were interested in borrowing items. Maybe if the mobile app or sign up page that is integrated into the Library's website can have an embedded translator service such as the free utility provided by Google maybe handy in such situations.

    Thanks again. I look forward to further meetings and events and meeting everyone again.