I believe in making every user interaction count. Outstanding experiences foster collaboration, connection, growth, and empowers others. “There are no stupid questions” serves as my mantra in training staff and engaging with the public. This mantra allowed me to level the playing field and meet patrons at their level (and usually generates repeat users).
UX IN THE LIBRARY: SPACE AND SERVICES
At Queens College, I established the Music Library as the intellectual hub of the Aaron Copland School of Music. When I arrived in 2003, the Music Library emphasis was on protecting the materials from the patrons, and the staff attitude was “us v. them” (the library v. the patrons). I implemented operational excellence working with our diverse staff to create a dynamic team that was fully committed to developing inclusive, positive user experiences and fostering community. In addition to consolidating two service points to increase access, we transformed an atmosphere into a vibrant, welcoming, and inclusive space with user-friendly and effective services that increased physical and digital library usage. I also cultivated relationships with the Aaron Copland School of Music, the Rosenthal Library, and other departments on campus, which resulted in expanded and improved services, as described above and, in more detail, on my website: jennoates.com.
To promote our inclusive and safe space, I established outreach practices and procedures for the Queens College Music Library. These included creating or implementing web pages and social media accounts, in-person and digital instruction programs, tutorial videos and online research guides, in-person reference and information services, and regular communications with the campus and broader community). I employ my user research skills to collect data, spot trends, and identify gaps or problems in our services. This combination of qualitative and quantitative research allowed us to adapt and better anticipate user needs.
UX IN THE LIBRARY: RESEARCH GUIDES AND WEBPAGES
- Created and maintain Music Library Research, Music Education, Writing Program Notes, and British and Irish Music Resources Guides via SpringShare.
- Sole conceptual designer the information structure, content, workflow, and navigation system of the of the Music Library website from 2003 to 2015. In 2008, I redesigned the pages, which were created by a web designer. The pages were in use from until 2015.
- As UX Team Leader, led the redesign of our Discovery Layer (OneSearch) landing page.
- On the Web Page Committee, I helped redesign the library webpage twice and used that experience to later redesign the Music Library webpage (see the UX tab for more).
UX IN THE LIBRARY: SPACE MANAGEMENT AND RENOVATIONS
When I arrived at Queens College, the Music Library space had not been updated in over a decade and, beyond reshelving materials, no stacks maintenance was being done. I implemented a number of improvements and procedures.
- Consolidated two service points into one.
- Reorganized storage spaces to make our closed stacks more accessible for our staff.
- Added shelving in our reference and stacks to accommodate our growing collection.
- Collaborated with campus facilities to redesign our circulation desk (2014-15) and staff area (2018-19) so that we could more efficiently and effectively serve our patrons.
Collaborative leadership, team building, mentorship, and innovative problem solving are the cornerstones of my leadership style. I have created a team-oriented and experiential learning environment for the Music Library staff, including full-time and student employees. “There are no stupid questions” serves as my mantra in training staff and engaging with the public. For many of our student workers, their position in the Music Library is their first job. This mantra allows us to level the playing field and meet our coworkers at their level. From the outset, we outline clear expectations and goals, including teaching them about professionalism and working within a team and provide room for increased responsibilities for those who excel. My goal is to give every staff member everything they need to succeed, something mirrored in our reference and instruction services.
I am also active within the Queens College Libraries Department.
- Based on my user experience success in the Music Library, I was named Associate Professor of User Experience for the Queens College Library system overseeing accessibility, borrowing, the Makespace, the Music Library, online interfaces, and outreach. In this position, I map our UX vision and patron experience plans for the Queens College Library and work with others to ensure and promote exceptional Queens College Library content and experiences.
- Serve on the Queens College Libraries Leadership Team, created to cope with COVID-19.
- I drafted the latest mentorship guidelines for the Library (in fall 2019) and co-drafted updated tenure and promotion guidelines (2019-2020).
- Served on the Queens College Libraries Strategic Planning Committee (2018-2019).
- Three terms (three years each) on the Library Personnel & Budget Committee, which oversees faculty and staff recruitment, promotion, tenure, and annual observations; approves all faculty and staff leave; and regularly reviews the departmental organizational structure.
- I have also served on search committees (including chairing two), the Curriculum Committee, the Resource Development Team, the Web Page Committee, and, more recently, the Strategic Planning Committee (2018-2019).
TECHNOLOGY IN THE MUSIC LIBRARY
I have upgraded and introduced new technology whenever it would serve our students. The following projects were funded by on-campus grants, for which I wrote the proposals.
- We now circulate laptops and iPads.
- In 2009, we converted our listening area to a media center with 13 computer stations with CD/DVD players, 4 computer stations with music keyboards, 7 desks with outlets for laptops, and a printing station.
- We created two small classrooms that are also available for group study. Both contain an electronic classroom set up and wireless headphones.
- Until 2015, we circulated iPods containing music for Aaron Copland School of Music listening exams. The Aaron Copland School of Music acquired the iPods and fellow librarian helped “secure” the content to comply with copyright laws.
I established instructional programming at the Queens College Music Library. I offer in-class instruction, library tours, and one-on-one instruction sessions with faculty and graduate students. In-class instruction has grown considerably and was, for a time, embedded in the music history sequence for music majors. (See my article, “Engaging with Research and Resources in Music History Courses,” in the Spring 2014 of The Journal of Music History Pedagogy for more. This article won the 2016 Music Library Association Richard S. Hill Award for best essay or article on library instruction/pedagogy.)
During the COVID-19 pandemic I shift instruction to online classes, one-on-one Zoom sessions, and created video tutorials on Research Guides and using Oxford Music Online.
Under my leadership, the Music Library has established our first two endowment funds devoted to acquisitions, both of which I manage and determine how the funds will be used.
- Ursula Springer Choral Music Endowment (based on a $20,000 gift)
- Claude V. Palisca Endowment (created from a portion of a $386,000 gift).
- Professor Emeritus Dr. Raymond Erickson recently publicized a bequest of $100,000 to the Music Library in his will. (He kindly notes that his bequest grew out of his interactions with me and my work in the Music Library.)
Other fundraising efforts include encouraging donations from faculty, alumni, and friends of the Aaron Copland School of Music and implemented annual book sales of donated materials to raise additional funds. In addition to raising at least $1,000 per event, the book sales have become popular with the Aaron Copland School of Music students and faculty as well as community members.
“Engaging with Research and Resources in Music History Courses.” The Journal of Music History Pedagogy, issue in honor of Douglass Seaton, 4/2 (Spring 2014): 283-300. **Received the Music Library Association Richard S. Hill Award, 2016, for best essay or article on library instruction/pedagogy.
“Practical Ways to Bring Information Literacy into the Undergraduate Music Curriculum.” College Music Symposium, 44 (2004): 74-82.
“Music Librarianship Education: Problems and Solutions.” Music Reference Services Quarterly, 8/3 (2004): 1-24.
“Library & Learning Commons: Creating a Collaborative Intellectual Hub.” Montana Academic Library Symposium, 17-19 May 2022, online.
“Integrating Digital Humanities Resources into the (Re)Search Process,” Music Library Association meeting, Portland, Oregon, 31 January-4 February 2018
“Navigating the Uncharted Seas of British Electronic Resources,” National Music Library Association meeting, Dallas, Texas, 17 February 2012.
“Beyond the Music: American Music in General Reference Databases,” Music Library Association, Annual National Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA, 26 February-3 March 2007.
“Revisiting New Grove Online” with Alisa Rata, Annual Meeting of the Music Library Association, Vancouver, BC, 13-20 February 2005.