Saturday, March 26, 2011

Trying to see through the user's eyes

A patron I've never seen before came into my office to ask me about a problem with her computer. The following recreation is heavily edited.

P: The screen is all white!
me: What kind of monitor do you have?
P: The regular kind that sits on the desk.
me: I mean, is it a flat screen, like this one?
P: No, it's big.
me: Like a television? It might be a problem with your picture tube.
P: No, no, I can see everything, but the top and bottom of the screen are gone. It's all white.
me: So you can see the desktop, and you can see your Inbox?
P: Yes! That's what I've been telling you!
[I sign into Yahoo, open my Inbox, open my Inbox, and hit F11.]
me: Does it look something like this?
P: Yes! How did you do that?
me: I hit the function key F11.
P: What does that do?
me: Just what you see here. It makes the window go full screen and the menu bars and taskbar go away. Go home and try pressing F11 and see if that brings it back.
P: If there's no F11 key, can I just type F, 1, 1?
me: No, that won't work. There is an F11 key somewhere on your keyboard. You can find it.

Then there was a whole other conversation about leaving "the system" running for four months while she was in Florida, but what she really left on was the cable modem. Not a choice I would have made, but I assured her it didn't have anything to do with her immediate problem.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Invisible Patrons

Seven people came to the Excel Basics, Part 1 class the other night. Well, five really. The other two were my groopies, who have been coming no matter what the topic is and whether they're prepared for it or not. (They're still dealing with basic Windows terminology.)

Three were people I'd never seen before. The best moment was at the end of the class when I offered the newcomers a paper copy of the schedule of Thursday night talks, and they said, "Don't need it, we'll just check the website." Coming up on two years here, and no one's ever said that to me before.

There's a whole other invisible patron population in this little town, and I wonder how well we're really serving them. We're only open two nights a week, and only until 8 PM. I remember when I was commuting by car, by the time I got back to Danbury, the last thing I felt like doing was going to the library. The folks who commute to Boston by bus or commuter train from here probably don't feel like stopping at the library when they get home. We're open for six hours on Saturdays, but there are never any programs scheduled then--it's a 3-person crew, strictly for checking physical materials in and out.

The Board of Trustees meets at 4 PM on a weekday, too early for anyone who works out of town. The Friends meet at 6 PM on a weeknight, which is better, but still kind of early. I'm sure they are well-representative of a large portion of the town, but not all of it.

I hope that the new strategic planning committee includes representatives from this invisible population.