June 18, 2018

Joe Márquez & Annie Downey | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Educators

Joe Márquez & Annie Downey

Annie Downey


Associate College Librarian & Director of Research Services, Reed College Library, Portland, OR


PhD, Higher Education, 2014; MLS, 2004, both University of North Texas


Reed College Library; LUX Service Design

Joe Márquez


Social Sciences & User Experience Librarian, Reed College Library, Portland, OR


MBA, Portland State University, 2014; MLIS, University of Washington, 2005


@joughm on Twitter


Weave: Journal of Library User Experience; Library Service Design: A LITA Guide to Holistic Assessment, Insight, and Improvement (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016); Getting Started in Service Design: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians (ALA Neal-Schuman, 2017); Library Service Design Heuristics Cards

Photo by Erik Gauger


Service Designers

In a 2015 journal article for Weave: Journal of Library User Experience, Reed College Library’s (RCL) Annie Downey and Joe Márquez defined service design as “a holistic, cocreative, and user-centered approach to understanding customer behavior for the creation or refining of services.”

They laid out a flexible, user-centered approach to understanding user and service provider experiences using qualitative tools—and then creating holistic solutions. Steps include identifying stakeholders, both external (students, faculty, affiliated institutions) and internal (librarians, library staff); making intangibles tangible (what parts of checking out a book are invisible to a patron?); and finding touchpoints (places where siloed work tasks intersect). Their other advice includes employ design ethnography, observation, and interviews to determine everyday patterns of how people use the library. Add journaling to track how people are spending their time. Create a user working group (UWG). Prototype ideas; a fix that works well on paper may “fail miserably in the wild,” they note. Test these potential solutions. Develop a service design blueprint. Finally, implement it.

“We did not invent service design,” Márquez says. “We merely took this methodology and adapted it to the library environment.”

Their work has resonated. “The influence of service design is being felt across the profession,” says nominator Angie Beiriger, humanities and digital scholarship librarian at RCL, which Márquez and Downey both joined in 2012. “They have been…introducing [service design] to various audiences in presentations, articles, online classes, two books, and consulting projects.”

The duo also created a set of Library Service Design Heuristics Cards to do quick preassessment checks on services, which can be downloaded for free. For this, they won the first Future of Libraries Fellowship, which comes with a $10,000 stipend, from the American Library Association’s Center for the Future of Libraries.

Márquez emphasizes three things he’s learned. “One, context counts. Your library is unique and you should treat it as such. Two, systems thinking. Too often we see only the immediate but don’t factor in all the other systems involved in the library. Three, everything is a service.” “The important thing,” adds Downey, “is to take the time to understand the people you serve and how the services you offer are working for them.”

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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