I think, where budgets allow, this is an increasingly common function / position. I am a Front End Librarian and I oversee development, user experience, and content strategy. I am part of systems but I liaise most often with our Marketing Department [because we have one ... ]. My friend Amanda is literally the User Experience Librarian at the Darien Library, so this is a thing with precedent.
I agree with one of the other commenters that a dedicated UX person makes a world of difference - and, honestly, it's probably better if that person is less librarian than not. The big hurdle we've had to jump across was coming to grips that our librarians aren't users, so their weigh-in on content and services is skewed toward the jargon-y, mega-search-fields, we're-not-google-and-we-are-proud opinion.
Staying on top of usability, accessibility, content strategy, dev, and performance [because a fast website is integral to a good user experience] is a full-time job. It's the kind of job you do outside of the 40-hour week. If you can get away with it, don't bundle this stuff in with other major roles.
Organizationally, this person or team should be afforded a little bit of autonomy from the other departments. Design committees--especially in higher-ed--are power struggles, and it benefits no one when the user-experience people/person can be pressured into bad design decisions.
Oh, and pay them well :) :) :).
I write about the web and front-end librarianship at www.ns4lib.com
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ken Varnum
Sent: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 12:00 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Usability Person?
We are exceptionally fortunate to have a 3-person User Experience department to support the developers who work on the website, the catalog, the digital library, and the repository.
Ken Varnum | Web Systems Manager | MLibrary - University of Michigan - Ann Arbor [log in to unmask] | @varnum | http://www.lib.umich.edu/users/varnum |
On Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 11:51 AM, Tom Cramer <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> We have been lucky to have a full time interaction designer within our
> library IT group for about 6 years. It makes a world of difference in
> the quality of our products; it also helps with letting the engineers
> focus on engineering, and the librarians focus on being librarians
> (rather than trying to design for patrons).
> - Tom
> On Oct 30, 2013, at 8:24 AM, Andrew Darby wrote:
> > Hello, all. This is perhaps a bit off-topic, but I was wondering
> > how
> > of you have a dedicated usability person as part of your development
> > Right now, we have a sort of ad hoc Usability Team, and I'd like to
> > make
> > pitch for hiring someone who will have the time and inclination to
> > manage this effort more effectively.
> > Anything you'd care to share (on-list or off-) would be welcome.
> > I'm especially curious about whether or not this is a full-time
> > for someone in your organization or if it's shared with another job
> > function; if you find this position is working out well or you wish
> > you'd spent the money on more robots instead; where this person
> > resides in your org chart; what sort of qualifications you looked for when hiring; etc.
> > Thanks,
> > Andrew
> > --
> > Andrew Darby
> > Head, Web & Emerging Technologies
> > University of Miami Libraries