School of Information Management & Systems   Spring 2004.
285 Design of Library Services.   Michael Buckland.

Assignment 3: Visit an Unfamiliar Library   -   Due no later than Feb 13.

Visit an unfamiliar library. The principal directory of libraries is the American Library Directory INFO Ref Z731.A53 which is arranged by state and then by city, with an index by institution name. For California see the California Library Directory. A selection of libraries and their websites can be found online from the university library's Library catalogs webpage. Also with a search for "library" from the home-page of Avoid UC Berkeley libraries unless that is a hardship. If you do visit a campus library, visit an unfamiliar one. Go unannounced, identify yourself as a student if asked, or at end of visit. Write a summary of your impressions. Relate your comments to the library's mission and to the group(s) it serves. Written report, about 3 pages single spaced.

1. Is the library easy to find? Are the signs and the internal lay-out clear and helpful? (Imagine that you are entirely new to the area, fresh from a small rural community on your first visit to a strange, big city). Leaflets, maps, or other guidance?

2. Does it have a website? Comments on the design, useability, adequacy of the website?

3. What are your first impressions as you walk in the door?

4. Who is in the library? Doing what? Staff and users.

5. What are your impressions of the staff? e.g. Do they seem accessible? friendly? capable? under-employed? over-worked? willing/competent to help? approachable?

6. Browse the shelves to see what is available in a subject area you are familiar with: Depth, range, age, condition, only stale material available? In need of weeding? duplication? new titles? repair?

7. Ask a reference question, preferably a genuine one but one that won't require extensive work by the reference staff. What is your impression of how well the staff listened to/interacted with you? How did they proceed? Do you think you got adequate attention? An accurate and complete answer? If not, why not?

8. Look at selection, display, arrangement, currency of current periodicals.

9. Check catalog(s). What sort? How many? Point-of-use guidance? Check for some titles of interest to you? What could be improved? Other online services? CD-ROM?

10. Physical facilities: Crowded? Comfortable? Distracting? Confusing? In what ways functional or otherwise?

11. Any unusual or noteworthy services or features? Displays? Would you like to be a user? -- or employee? If so why? If not, why not?