Priyanka Saha

SF PUBLIC LIBRARY

A curated digital service to enhance the experience for the San Francisco Public Library members.

 
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Overview

The San Francisco Public Library is an essential resource to the city’s diverse communities. This project is an initiative to empower members of the San Francisco Public Library by creating a hyper-relevant digital service that encourages discovery and learning, makes visits to the public library engaging, and curates personalized content that establishes deeper connections to the library’s core service offerings. 

Project Details

Project Skills Design Research, Systems Thinking, UX/UI Design, Prototyping, User-testing
Project Advisor Federico Villa
Duration 8 weeks

 
 
 

Key Features

 
 
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Creating awareness.

In an effort to increase membership and educate members about library services, the onboarding allows members to design the library that is curated for them and make them aware of the library’s core offerings.

 
 
 

Curating personalized content.

On the home screen, members will receive a quick update about their account status. It will also recommend members of popular books, library events to attend and trending topics related to their interest.

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An augmented reality feature.

Using GPS-navigation and augmented reality feature, members can locate materials inside the building as well as take guided tours of the library and learn more about events in real-time.

 
 

Challenge

In the 21st century — when so many books are digitized, so much public culture exists online and so often people interact virtually — people still have indifferent opinions of the public library and few to none are aware of the range of services they offer.

 
 
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Primary Research

To gain a deeper understanding of the public library experience, I interviewed public librarians and members of the SF Public Library. A spectrum of user engagement was observed among the members interviewed which was based on a cluster analysis of factors such as: the importance of public libraries in their lives, how they use libraries, how they view the role of libraries in communities and their relationship to the SF Public Library.

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Research Methods

Several research methods were applied to understand multiple touchpoints and members’ relationship with the public library. One framework that led to clear insights was the AEIOU framework which was used to understand the norms and goals of the public library. To better understand members’ relationship with the public library, participants were asked to draft a love or break-up letter addressed to their public library. 

 
 
 
 

 

Auditing Digital Services

The San Francisco Public Library offers many unique services that people would often pay for, for example, members have free access to museums once a year. This information isn’t conveyed in the digital space and hinders potential membership. The SF Public Library could clearly convey what services they have to offer which could increase membership and that, in turn, would increase funding and public support.

 
 
 
 

 

KEY INSIGHTS

A Personal Connection.

Members want to experience a familiar, personal connection each time they use the library services. Being emotionally vested in the public library is seen as a community service, not just a building that gives them the books they need.

Library is a trusted platform.

Google is an impressive search engine, but its results can be generic. Librarianship has always been about providing objective, accurate, and engaging information.

Information overload.

SFPL relies heavily on print communication and the digital space seems outdated. Navigating it for the first time is overwhelming for new members of the library.

 
 

Strategy

Based on the research findings, an experience map was created to understand how can new, existing and potential members engage with the services offered by the public library.

 
 

 

Ideation & Wireframing

Wireframes were used to rough out potential new layouts and to iterate quickly. Rough wireframes tested means of presenting relevant information at various stages of interaction. 

 
 
 
 
 

Value Proposition

For members of SFPL, who seek personally enhanced library experiences, our platform will deliver a hyper-relevant digital service that encourages discovery and learning, makes visits to the public library engaging, and curates personalized content that establishes deeper connections to the library’s service offerings.

 
 
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Usability Testing

The concept was shared with librarians, library members and people without a membership.

“The AR feature is really cool. It would benefit me. Sometimes it’s really hard to find materials with code numbers. This feature would solve the problem.”

“I would like to see my library dashboard as that’s something that’s really important.”

“It would be nice to have the ‘ask a librarian’ feature.”

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Final thoughts

Every library exists in an ecosystem that needs to turn outward, encouraging a hyper-relevant digital space wherein members can create network of communities that would entice people to visit the public library more often.

What’s more is that if the library is seen as a positive contributor to the ecosystem — policy makers, stakeholders and government officials will incorporate libraries into state budgets and promote a culture of healthy, upwardly mobile communities.


 
 

Learnings

Irrespective of analyzing the use of physical or the digital library, placing the members at the heart of the method, helped identify how members interact and use the library’s services, facilities and resources

As for next steps, it would be great to continue to iterate my ideas and further test the prototype with members. Creating a digital presence for a service that has a large and diverse member base, user testing is essential.