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Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

Elements of UX: A Librarian's Guide to User Experience Design

It's at the core of what we do

"By designing your library with the user experience in mind, you have the potential to deepen the connection your library has with its community and make your library a place that people love to use."
- Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches in Useful, Usable, Desirable

I thought UX was just for websites and other tech stuff

Not at all! User experience can be applied to just about every field and discipline under the sun. UX does have roots in human-computer interaction, though.

Don Norman, a psychologist and usability consultant who's worked with Apple, HP, and the Nielsen Norman Group is often credited as the father of UX. His book The Design of Everyday Things (details on our page of additional resources) explains the importance of designing all types of products and services - from travel reservations to thermostats to faucets to door handles - with clarity, respect, and empathy for their future users.

In this video, Norman chats about designing for real people - not just fans of confusing doors.

But I'm not a designer

User experience plays a part in every conceivable interaction between the user and your library, from a flyer about programs to your smartphone app to the restrooms. Here's a list of a few major touchpoints (adapted from Useful, Usable, Desirable):


  • website
  • catalog
  • email and instant messaging
  • online reference help
  • telephone and voicemail
  • parking lot
  • signage in the building
  • furniture and shelving
  • computer rooms and equipment
  • service desks (circulation and reference)


Scene from the Lion King where Mufasa and Simba look at their kingdom. Text reads everything the light touches is the user experience.