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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The social critic Paul Goodman once wrote that "technology is a branch of moral philosophy, not of science." His point was that decisions on how to shape the world through technology were inherently moral choices, concerned with how we ought to live. Our library UX work is no different. We've been so focused on solving problems of efficiency and aesthetics that we've lost sight of our moral obligations as designers and content creators.
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.
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.
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:
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 6 include:
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: