Friday, May 12, 2006

Creating Passionate Users

This is something that libraries do well. When a librarian connects with a patron, that patron becomes a passioniate user of the library who will always, always, always come to the library for information, pleasure, fun, curiosity, etc.

But how do you make that connection? Part of it is just being a good person to everyone who comes through the door. Your patrons are paying--either directly or indirectly--for you to be there. How would you want to be treated if you came through the door? Well, do that to each person who comes in. Even if they're teenagers (why alienate people just about to become tax-paying adults? that makes no sense to me), even if they're a different socio-economic group from you, even if they're homeless, even if you can't understand what they're saying, welcome them all and treat them like people.

OK, you've done the tough part. Now comes the difficult part. A great place to get ideas is the Creating Passionate Users blog will give you many. At one point, I had more than 20 entries from this blog that I wanted to make reference to. In the end, I decided that I should just link to it and tell people to go there. Most of the time, Kathy Sierra is the person who posts the most on the site, although there are technically others who post (I've never seen anyone else).

Kathy mostly posts from a software development side of things, but I think you can take her ideas and relate them to any professional area. Since software development has an end product that wants to insinuate itself into people's lives, whether it be an iPod or Google or whatever. The library should follow some of the same pains to market itself and make itself useful to the patron. She has posts like what if you were watching a movie and the Microsoft paperclip came up to help you watch the movie? You would stop watching the movie because the experience of watching the movie has actually gotten in the way of watching the movie. So, if the experience of searching your catalog gets in the way of the patron searching the catalog (the user needs to put the word 'AND' between words for example [hello Ebsco! get with the 1990s!]), why should the patron come to the library to look for books when Amazon does a better job of helping them find their book (other than the patron doesn't need to buy EVERY book they have mild interest in)?

I can't tell you how much I love this blog. It's witty, clever, simple, informative, everything I want from a blog. Kathy draws really great diagrams to get her points across, and I know that visualization is really helpful when making points. Go to Creating Passionate Users today, you won't regret it!

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