Recognize and describe cultural and economic diversity in the clientele of libraries or information organizations

Component 1: Statement of Competency

Libraries are successful because they are dedicate to creating equal access to information to their patrons. This means they spent time focused on understanding and studying how people use information based on cultural and economic demographics. We, information professionals, evaluate how patrons of different ages use our resources. For example are 16 year olds checking out physical books more often than an 85 year old or do they use digital resources and technology more and why? Looking at this data shapes the way libraries market their material and more so how funds are allocated for resources.

Due to the nature and mission of libraries they are accessible by and attract a diverse population. The population ranges in education level, age, cultural background, learning ability and physical abilities. All of these factors play a part in how a patron uses information. It is our responsibility to determine how to attract this population and how to meet and serve their information needs.

I want to point out that social status and economic status are directly related. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has published data on the correlation between education level and income and typically those with a higher educational level have a higher income than those with a lower educational level. This suggests, that those with a higher education have a higher socio-economic status and in relation are able to use library resources at a more independent and intricate level than those with a lower socio-economic status. This however, does not mean that libraries that serve lower socio-economic communities should deprive these communities of access to these resources and information.

As the world continues to progress in the digital world, we see that what is commonly referred to as the digital divide, is largely affected by socio-economic status. Rubin explains, “as income rises so does Internet use… Only 25 percent of those with incomes of less than $15,000 use the Internet, compared to 67 percent of those with incomes exceeding $75,000” (Rubin, 2010, p178). One of the primary reasons for not using the internet is complexity of technology. The shows that use of the internet, or lack thereof, is not just restricted access due to income but also due to the skill set and knowledge. Libraries have focused on providing greater public access to the internet through installing public computers and even offering digital literacy programs to teach how to use the available technology.

It is important to acknowledge that cultural backgrounds also largely affect how patrons access information. On a study conducted by Liu and Redfern (1997) on students at San Jose State University, “Statistical analyses indicated that the student’s level of success in using the library was related to English-language proficiency, frequency of library use, and the frequency of reference desk inquiries” (Evans & Ward, 2007, p72). The inability to understand the dominant language of the collection of resources is a huge barrier on how the user with access and use the information that is available.

It is important that libraries understand the demographic makeup of the community they serve and adjust to serve their information needs. One significant adjustment that has been made is the incorporation of multilingual OPACS. This allows users the option of searching for resources in the language which they are most comfortable with. This will allow users to increase their skill set in searching because they now have the ability to use the resource.

Component 2: Justification of Evidence and Evidence:

My first piece of evidence I have included for this competency is a blog post I wrote for Libr240 on [Usability versus Accessibility]. This post discusses the importance of creating a website that is accessible to a diverse population and factors that impact how the user may be accessing the information. With digital content one of the most important factors in accessibility is making the webpage accessible to those who are visually impaired. This is done by adding alternative text for images and links within your code. This piece of evidence shows my understanding and ability to acknowledge and adjust to cultural and economic barriers my users may encounter.

My second piece of evidence I have included for this competency is a blog post I wrote for Lib240 [Designed for Mobility]. This post discusses designing your digital content for mobile use. Today, data shows that users are accessing more and more content on mobile devices like tablets and smart phones. This can drastically change how users use the available information, especially due to screen size differences and connection speed. The post discusses how to address some of the barriers that mobile users will deal with when accessing content through a mobile device.

My final piece of evidence is a [Final Proposal] I wrote for Libr285 for implementing a SMS reference service in an academic environment. This proposal discusses the purpose of implementing the reference service; “Studies have shown that 89% of college students have a cellphone and two-thirds of them use it for text messaging (Farkas, 2007)” (Watkins, 2013). The proposal shows my ability to recognize and adapt to how users are accessing and using information, specifically in an academic setting.

Conclusion:

As an information professional it is important that I am aware, able and understand the need to adapt and create resources that will serve a diverse population that deal with cultural barriers and socio-economic barriers. Our goal in the profession is to provide equal access to information, this can only be achieved if we acknowledge and understand the needs of our communities. We are doing great work to minimize the effect of the digital divide through multilingual OPACs, web design accessibility standards and access to technology that is often limited to communities with a lower socio-economic status.

References:

Evans, G. E. and Ward, P. L. (2007). Management Basics for Information Professionals. Second edition. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

Rubin, R. E. (2010). The Values and Ethics of Library and Information Science. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

Watkins, W. (2013). Research Proposal written for graduate studies course Libr285. San Jose State University, School of Library and Information Science.

Evidence:

Usability versus Accessibility blog post for Libr240: https://nimblelibrarian.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/usability-vs-accessibility/

Designed for Mobility blog post for Libr240: https://nimblelibrarian.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/designed-for-mobility/

Final Proposal for Libr285: [Final Proposal]

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Rancho Cucamonga: 3 Amazing Libraries unlimited possibilities

Five issues analyzed

I chose the following five guideline topics to analyze the Rancho Cucamonga library website because I feel that these issues are the most important when it comes to having spectacular usability on a website. A larger list of guidelines can be found at usability.gov The way a user learns to navigate your page can make or break whether they return. If your website is not pleasing to the user and is difficult to read due to excessive graphics, poor text use, inability to quickly scan lists a user will not want to use your site no matter how helpful the information is and will be less likely to remember it to recommend to a friend, a future user. For a brief listing of the guidelines I analyzed and the ratings I gave each point please click here.

Page Layout

Explanation

Rating: 4 stars

The page layout of the Rancho Cucamonga Library received a star rating of 4. The reasons being first the amount of white space is clean and pleasing for the eyes to read. It does not turn you away with its visual use of information. The text length is in paragraph format but it is not lengthy, but short and sweet. The page length is a little longer than I think needed, as you scroll down the white space increases drastically and this can be eliminated. As well as the length of the page, their is not scroll to the top or anchor that can take you directly back up you have to scroll. The most important items are at the top of the page such as the hours and location, services offered, catalog link and calendar of events.

Navigation Usage

Explanation

Rating: 4 stars

Navigating the homepage is very explanatory. There is a sequential menu located directly on the left side of the page in the sidebar. This menu expands on the necessary items giving sub-item options. There is a site map located in the breadcrumb area that allows you to track where you are and how you got there however I must point out that clicking homepage does not take you to the library homepage but the City homepage within which the library website lies. There site does not utilize glosses but there are no “Dead End” pages, which is beneficial for the user as they can go back to the previous page if they found that the page they were currently on was not the one they needed. One criticism I have for navigation is the way the database list is set up. Again their is no top of page anchor causing a tremendous amount of scrolling back and forth through the lists.

Text Appearance

Explanation

Rating:4.8 stars

The text use is consistent in format, same size, color and font unless needed otherwise. Although it is not black text on a plain background the use of the dark green fulfills the same need and follows the color scheme of the website. They utilize all caps for headings the rest of the text is in appropriate lowercase and capitalize letter standard. The use of bold text is sparing and appropriate. For example on the area for “Upcoming Events” the date is bold to distinguish that the following events happen on that date and the events are in standard text format. Using the calendar of events as another example the listing for the closest upcoming date is put at the top, to emphasize the importance of that date. On the homepage on the right side there is an automated feed that switches news feeds, the animation of the switch is often enough to catch your attention but not too often to annoy you. The animation of these items are important because they advertise different events going on with the library whether is is a new service or registration for upcoming events.

Graphics, Images and Multimedia

Explanation

Rating: 4.6 stars

There use of a logo on every page, it is the City’s logo of a bunch of grapes in front of a turquoise archway outline in a double border of purple and white. The use of the logo creates in the users mind the association of that logo with the City. The background is really simple the text lays on a white background while the entire library website has a background of two sets of books that sit nicely in the margins without causing distraction to the website content. On the homepage in the left sidebar there are three images to view virtual tours of their libraries and directly on the photo is says click for virtual tour but as you hover over the photo it gives text describing what the photo links to. The graphics the site uses are very pertinent to the webpage they are on whether it is a calendar for the calendar of events or a picture of the Library director on the Welcome page. The web pages load quickly which shows that the use of the graphics do not bog down the site.

Lists

Explanation

Rating: 4.8 stars

I came across a list of databases, that had clickable links and followed the guideline of reading in columns not rows, up and down. The top list is easy to scan quickly although not with bullets the spacing and alternating line colors allows for ease of reading. As you scroll down through the full list of databases the lists are with bullets and easy to read. I find that this list of databases makes the page incredibly long and the lack of ability to quickly scroll to the top creates a hassle for the user. Most of the lists found on the Rancho Cucamonga library site are completed with bullets on a clean background creating an easy reading experience.

Pride in my Work

Usability: an analysis

Because I take pride in my work I shall let my inner geek arise and show itself. Today I want to discuss Usability. Before I being my ramblings and confuse you beyond repair we will start with a definition.

Jakob Nielsen defines usability as the following:
“Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use. The word ‘usability’ also refers to methods for improving ease-of-use during the design process.”

A website can be deemed usable or not by analyzing a great many areas of its content, which is why it is important to view some guidelines first. You can view a list of guideline topics at Usability.gov. I chose to address 5 usability issues with the Rancho Cucamonga Public Library website. Hope on board and ride with my down Usability lane.

My five issues:

  1. Page Layout
  2. Navigation
  3. Text appearance
  4. Graphics, images and multimedia use
  5. Lists

A view of my complete analysis of the website can be viewed here, for a brief list of points analyzed and their ratings  continue reading.

Page Layout: what are we looking for?

Okay, so we know we need to be aware of our page layout but what does that mean? What are we being aware of, how awesome it looks? Maybe but the guidelines we want to incorporate include: Content list

  • order of elements/  most important on top = 5 stars
  • text line lengths/ are they too long? = 4 stars
  • white space/ is it too busy? = 3 stars
  • item alignment/ is there a consistency? = 4 stars
  • page length/ am I scrolling to infinity and beyond? = 4 stars

Navigation: is it effective and efficient?

When we navigate a webpage we want to utilize the time we are there searching. Come on we are busy people we have places to go people to be…I mean see. Content list

  • Clickable page of contents on long pages/ is there one? = 4 stars
  • “Dead End” pages/ do they exist? = 5 stars
  • Navigation scheme/ do they conform? = 5 stars
  • Site Map = 5 stars
  • glosses/ is this where I want to go? = 0 stars

Text Appearance: visual consistency?

Our eyes do alot of work, we need them don’t make us lose them sooner than we have to. Content list

  • Consistency in format = 5 stars
  • Bold text/ sparing? = 5 stars
  • Familiar fonts = 5 stars
  • Black text on Plain backgrounds = 4 stars
  • Visual consistency = 5 stars

Graphics, images and multimedia: less is more

More often than not over abundance of hi-tech multimedia drives away all the hi-techy’s. Keep it useful not boastful. Content list

  • Logo/ is there one? = 5 stars
  • Simple background/ can I read your text easily? = 4 stars
  • Graphics used are meaningful and don’t bog down the page = 5 stars
  • Limited image use = 5 stars
  • Click-able images are labeled/ do I know where this image goes? = 4 stars

Lists: titles and introductions please

Content list

  • Order of elements/ most important on top =5 stars
  • Ease of scanning = 3.5 stars
  • Introduction/ do I know why there is a list? = 5 stars
  • Begin with 1/ 0 is a space waster = N/A, most lists were bullets not numbers
  • Style appropriate/ numbers are for counting = 5 stars