Community: January 2009 Archives
Feedback from the librarians who attended the ALA presentation where Bob Schulz gave an overview of WorldCat.org and WorldCat Local usability findings was overwhelming: you want us to share more information!
We hear you. In response, Arnold Arcolio from OCLC San Mateo is working on putting together a high-level, cross-test summary of what we're seeing, our conclusions, and how we're responding to what we've discovered during our user research. We're trying to determine the best way to discuss and collaborate on these topics, so right now, we're looking into making it a wiki-like page where OCLC and other libraries can share their findings and experiences as well.
We expect the summary to include information about the differences we're seeing in the kinds of users of WorldCat.org and WorldCat Local and how that informs the different personas we're developing for the two products.
Meanwhile, if you're interested in our process of evaluation and user research, you can visit our OCLC usability website.
After that, though, I (of course) started noticing (and buying) more books with electric green covers. There wasn't a subject or author connection at all... they were just a neat color that I had a positive association with.
Only that book covers (and by association, the colors thereof) can be important, interesting, arresting, etc. After reading of Pantone's choice for color of the year, I spent some time making a list of books with predominantly yellow covers. This took me longer in Web-land than it would have just wandering the stacks, because it's hard to tell what color cover a book will have from a title, subject or author. In real life, I could have simply walked up and down rows of books and yanked ones off the shelf that met this simple, chromatic criteria.
There are some neat Web resources for working with color -- the mash-ups of krazydad like colrpickr and coverpop come to mind -- but the real impact of a book's cover is felt much, much more strongly in real life than in a picture online.
The whole exercise was a reminder to me that libraries have one enormous advantage over information sources online: they are real places. As useful as Google, Flickr, del.ico.us, Twitter, etc. are... I can't go "hang out at the Google." There are ways to use physical space -- color being one of them -- that can have a much greater impact than the closest equivalent online.
What would the impact of a wall, shelf or table of yellow books be? Chosen only because yellow is (according to industry sources) a color of "hope and reassurance?" It's not going to be the way most people find the information they're looking for... but in a physical space, maybe it's a touch of optimism that simply can't be completely replicated on the Web.