Guus from Netherlands on the importance of being user-focused

When I saw the title of Guus van den Brekels speech I thought this guy must be on the same line as I. The title was: Into the user enviroment now!: How the users have changed and how the libraries can adjust, presented 9.30 Friday 15 September at Plenary Session III at the Eahil conference in Cluj-Napoca, 2006.

And sure he was. I’ve been around Sweden and Norway talking about the effects of the Googlification and the new user behaviors. I also had a column in swedish mag Internetworld with title (title translated to english): The challenger of Google is there in your municipality. Guus had some solutions on this, so let’s hear.

Guus described the new user as a person who is fascinated by new technolgies, want to be interactive (not isolated), no tolerance of delay, want to stay connected, learning by doing and not by being told, trial-and-error approach, actions more important than knowledge, multitasking as a way of life.

A really good summary of the new user as I see it.
-Students say: Why do I need the OPAC, Google gives me enough, meant Guus.
-We have to know that we’re not the only one for the user. The user demands more today. People like web 2.0 services so we have to keep up with what they’re doing, meant Guus.

So what to do Guus?

On short term he meant we have to use web 2.0 social software, open standards and protocols, evaluate log file statistics, modular web-based library services etc

He suggested LiveTrix instead (if I understood LiveTrix functions right?) of proprietary library portal Metalib to metasearch several sources.

Guus had 10 top technologies for the library to embrace:Weblogs, RSS, Wikis, Instant Messaging, Podcasting, Open source software, SMS, Social software, User-created content, Mashing-up services.

In the end he showed us the QuickSearch Library Toolbar. Search toolbars have been common for a while now and a lot of users know about them as I experienced it. Guus and his library in Groningen, Netherlands, has made their own toolbar that gives the user fast access to a lot of sources from the library. Just install that toolbar into your webbrowser. The QuickSearch toolbar is built upon Conduit toolbar. The toolbar he showed the audience made a lot of them very interested.

-My boss doesn’t like when I say problems, he calls it challenges, said Guus.
I had a two minutes chat with him afterwards and asked him if it’s not better with Firefox extensions and their embedded serch toolbar where you can add your self-built search engine?

– You should use all options if the medical students like it, not just toolbars. Younger students like things like this and I think even older users will discover web 2.0 services, said Guus diplomatic.

Nice talk! I read in his e-mail afterwards when sending us the link to the power point that he already got some offerings on doing more talks in different places. Good luck! Spread your thoughts in the library world.

Read also Guus blog Digicmb. Here’s an interview with Guus by Oliver Obst.

2 responses

  1. Lars, that may be of interest for you: Disruptive Beneficence The Google Print Program and the Future of Libraries. by Mark Sandler, Internet Reference Services Quarterly Volume 10, Issue 3/4: Libraries must learn to accommodate themselves to Google, and complement its mass digitization efforts with niche digitization of our own. We need to plan for what our activities and services will look like when our primary activity is no longer the storage and circulation of widely-available print materials, and once the printed book is no longer the only major vehicle for scholarly communication.

  2. Hej Lars,

    Take a look at this:
    http://igelu.org/Conferences/stockholm2006/Session6b/5-9-06-redesigning-our-combine-harvester-ane-w-van-der-leij.ppt
    It is my presentation of LiveTrix, in Stockholm of all places, last september.
    (I’m a colleague of Guus’, he works at the University’s Medical Library, I myself work at the central University Library in Groningen. We worked togethe on the LiveTrix-project.)

    Om du vill veta mera, så får du gärna mejla mig på svenska.

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