Matthew Reidsma

I am the Web Services Librarian at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. My research interests are user experience, usability, online privacy and security, and design ethics. Library Journal named me a “Mover and Shaker” in 2013, which led to many unfortunate dance-related jokes in the Reidsma household.

Articles

I write about design, user experience, and design ethics in libraries. I publish here on this site as well as with open access publications. Here are some popular articles:

  • Algorithmic Bias in Library Discovery Systems

    More and more academic libraries have invested in discovery layers, the centralized “Google-like” search tool that returns results from different services and providers by searching a centralized index. The move to discovery has been driven by the ascendence of Google as well as libraries’ increasing focus on user experience. But underneath these discovery layers lie black box algorithms that may reflect uncomfortable biases.

  • Holistic UX: Harnessing Your Library's Data Fetish to Solve the Right Problems

    Libraries have jumped on the User Experience bandwagon of late, rethinking our tools and services with a new focus on patron needs. But we still see things differently than our patrons. Where we see discrete services supporting our larger mission, patrons only see a confusing website. Without a holistic view, we spend our time solving the wrong problems.

  • How We Do Usability Testing

    Although I’ve worked in academic libraries for the past 8 years, my web development experience is from running my own shop, outside of the University world1. This is a land where results matter more than statistics and reports, and everything you do has a price tag attached to it. As such, usability testing is frequently done on the cheap without a committee to write questions and do recruiting. I’ve kept it that way here at GVSU.

  • Typefaces as Identity

    What strikes me most about the visual identity of libraries is how little attention is paid to the actual identity of the institution when aesthetic design choices are made. This is most evident in choosing a typeface. Let me explain.

See all articles

Talks

I speak about design, user experience, and design ethics at library conferences around the world. Here are some memorable talks I've given in the past.

  • Everyone is a Distance Learner

    Distance Librarianship Conference, Pittsburg, PA, April 2016.

    Image of slide that says Computer Says No

    More and more essential library services are moving to the web - and yet it is the rare library website that is designed for users who never set foot in the physical library. By making sure that our online tools are tailored to help true distance learners—those users who cannot visit our physical spaces—we'll make libraries better for everyone.

  • More than Usable: Library Services for Humans

    UX Libs, Cambridge, England, March 2015.

    Image of slide that says Computer Says No

    As Experience designers, we're interested in more than just products, services, and websites. But our toolkit looks remarkably like the toolkit product designers use: design for tasks, hope emotions will follow. But experience is big, and emotions aren't just the outputs from using something. We're going to need more than science to explain experience--we'll need philosophy, literature, poetry, and more.

See all talks

Upcoming Talks

  • Ethical UX. Library Technology Conference, St. Paul, MN. March 15th.
  • Keynote. UX Libs III, Glasgow, Scotland. June 6-7th.
  • Algorithmic Bias in Library Discovery Systems. ProQuest, Ann Arbor, MI. December 8th.

I am not accepting invitations for any more talks in 2017.

I have a Github repository with my professional bio and headshots for speaking engagements and publications that need them.


When possible, I record video and audio of my talks. You can find recordings and slides and more below, or linked from the trancripts on this site.

Tools

I have built a number of tools to help my colleagues and other libraries do better work. The code for my tools is open source and available on Github. Here are some popular ones:

Weave

I am a co-founder and the editor-in-chief of Weave: Journal of Library User Experience, an open-access, peer-reviewed academic journal for library user experience professionals. Recent articles from Issue 5 include:

Work Notes

I share information about my day-to-day work at Grand Valley State University Libraries in my Work Notes blog. Here are some recent entries: