The Faces of DRS presents : Rachael Cohen

The Discovery and Research Services (DRS) department is the new kid on the block in the Wells Library, so we’re pretty keen to show everyone who we are and what we do. The Faces of DRS (formerly DUX), reDUX’s recurring feature, is intended to do just that. Each post will introduce one department member to give the readers some insight into what the department is all about and how we fit into library world. So without further ado, let’s find out what makes DRS tick!
Rachael Cohen, Digital User Experience Librarian
Rachael Cohen
Digital User Experience Librarian

Rachael Cohen is the Digital User Experience Librarian, which is a brand new position here in Discovery and Research Services. A Minnesota native, Rachael was first trained in the arts of educational media and technology combined with computer science and information systems.  This gave her both the technical skills and foundational experience in public services that would guide her towards her epic journey into Library Land.

Her greatest adventures in discovery-swordsmanship training first took place in the mystical realm of the Wells Library, where she met many of the wisest library wizards, elves, and catladies. An MLS/MIS student of the-then School of Library and Information Science at IU, Rachael tailored her graduate school experience to engage in a variety of practical applications of patron-focused academic librarianship. From serving as a gateway of knowledge for library visitors as a reference assistant, instruction assistant, and cataloger, to supporting manuscript preparation and running an RPS library, Rachael bridged all of these experiences when she joined our formally-named Digital User Experience department to help develop the new IUCAT and OneSearch@IU. She was perfect for this thanks to her keen ability to translate techspeak into a patron-driven design and implementation.

Then, she graduated from SLIS, and was swept away to the land of bitter cold Grand Forks. For a year, Rachael operated the Grand Forks Air Force Base Library as the Library Director. Not only did she do everything under the sun as collection manager, instructor, technology specialist, marketing and outreach extraordinaire, Rachael also commanded the troops for transforming the library into an information commons. Working with military personnel, she faced the challenge of learning a new language and set of sensibilities, which has helped prepare her for future battles.

In January, Rachael came back home to Indiana University. Now, along with her tech-wizardstaff, she wields a sharp(ened) sword that is forged with the magic of discovery to slay (troubleshoot) any enemy (problem) to ensure the digital livelihood of library patrons. We couldn’t be happier for Return of the Rachael at DRS, especially as we endure through the Age of Web Migration.

The Faces of DUX presents: Mary Popp

The Digital User Experience (DUX) department is the new kid on the block in the Wells Library, so we’re pretty keen to show everyone who we are and what we do. The Faces of DUX, reDUX’s newest recurring feature, is intended to do just that. Each post will introduce one department member to give the readers some insight into what the department is all about and how we fit into library world. So without further ado, let’s find out what makes DUX tick (quack?)!

 Mary Popp is the Research and Discovery Services Librarian in DUX – a position she describes as carrying “the coolest title I’ve ever had.”  And it is an apt title for a true explorer in the land of libraries.  Mary’s days are filled with evaluating current technologies and discovering new ones, all in the name of improving user experience.   Her primary task is “simple to explain, but hard to do” – finding out what users’ needs are and figuring out how to meet them.  As she discusses the ins and outs of being a Research and Discovery Services Librarian, her spirit of adventure becomes evident.  It’s a fun job, she says, because every day presents new challenges and new opportunities.  Although there are the constants of meetings and database management, she thrives on the unexpected twists and turns that come with the implementation of new technologies, such as Blacklight and the new and improved OneSearch@IU.  Mary is constantly reflecting on how users actually use resources rather than how they’re “supposed” to use resources.  By evaluating data about user practices, Mary hopes that DUX can develop these resources to more effectively meet patron needs.

Mary is a through and through Hoosier, having gone through her entire library career at IU, beginning with receiving her Master of Library Science from SLIS.  Mary has explored just about every position there is in the IU Libraries.  Her first job out of the gate was the Assistant Librarian in the Graduate Library School Library.  After helping get that library into the IU system, she became Head of the Halls of Residence Libraries.  Following that she transitioned to Head of the Undergraduate Library.  Administration was not her forte (she claims), so she became Instruction Librarian for the Undergraduate Library which eventually led her to become the Head of Instruction for Libraries.  After chairing an IUCAT committee her career trajectory shifted more toward the information technology side of libraries, culminating in her current position in DUX.  Mary values the opportunities that she had to become involved in library technologies when she did – at a time when library technology and user expectations were in such flux.  From changes in federated searching to being part of the team that developed the current website, it allowed her to be on the cutting edge of technology and catch a real glimpse of the future of libraries.

Speaking of the future…when I asked Mary to describe her vision for libraries a few years down the road, she replied that DUX is representative of that future.  DUX is a department that is public-service oriented, but with a technology framework.  Mary envisions libraries moving ever further in this direction as patrons’ use of library resources shifts more into the digital realm.  She is eager to start the conversation that will ensure users can effectively access library materials and content as their needs change.  This often involves examining and challenging assumptions about what is possible and what is necessary.

Mary reveals even more of her adventurous spirit when she discusses her life outside of libraries.  She travels frequently – by air, sea, and land.  She has been on cruises, traveled to Egypt, and is always keen to hop in the car on a lazy weekend to see what awaits her on the open road.  Upon retirement, she hopes to treat herself and her husband to a trip to Greece.  In the meantime, Mary’s current big adventure is as the incoming president of the American Library Association division called Reference and User Services Association, aka RUSA.  Yeah, she’s kind of a big deal.

The Faces of DUX presents: Courtney Greene

The Digital User Experience (DUX) department is the new kid on the block in the Wells Library, so we’re pretty keen to show everyone who we are and what we do. The Faces of DUX, reDUX’s newest recurring feature, is intended to do just that. Each post will introduce one department member to give the readers some insight into what the department is all about and how we fit into library world. So without further ado, let’s find out what makes DUX tick (quack?)!

 Courtney “Fearless Leader” Greene is the Head of the Digital User Experience department.  When asked to describe her position, she replied, “everything is my job and nothing is my job.”  That’s real helpful, Courtney.  Oh wait, there’s more.  She says that her primary charge as department captain is to support the goals of  the department as a whole, as well as enabling the success of the individuals that make up the crew (I’m going with a pirate theme here, see?).  She skillfully tacks back and forth between utilizing the strengths of each department member while ensuring that the user experience objectives of the library are met.

Courtney, an Indiana native and IU graduate, received her degree from SLIS in 2000.  She began her career in librarianship in the public services cove of the library sea.  After her first job as a reference librarian at UIC in Chicago, Courtney moved on to DePaul as an instruction librarian.  Although she didn’t know it at the time, the northwesterly winds were consistently pushing her toward the open seas of user experience.  While at DePaul she became involved in the library’s web committee and proceeded to chair the committee through a major redesign of the library’s website.  It was here that she found her niche between coders and people who need the code that coders code.  She bridged the gap between public services and technical services further by pursuing her Master’s in Human Computer Interaction at DePaul.  Courtney now looks back at the last decade of her career and sees a clearly mapped trajectory leading her ever-closer to her current areas of interest.  X marks the spot at user experience.

Courtney is currently involved in several projects that will be sure to make the IU Libraries’ website more seaworthy.  Shifting the IUCAT interface to Blacklight and implementing EBSCO Discovery Service – in the form of the new and improved OneSearch@IU – are at the top of her priority list.   She is also involved in the migration of the website’s content management system to Drupal and is keen to see the current CM walk the plank.  The future of user experience in libraries is currently unclear to Courtney, not because she lacks vision, but because libraries (and especially library technologies) are in a constant state of flux.  She describes the future as a “series of transformations” leading to better, more seamless, user interactions with library resources and services.  “We’ll never be done improving,” she says.

Courtney states that the most rewarding part of leading DUX through such maelstroms of change is working with the hardy souls that crew the department.   They are a “great staff, full of ideas and energy.”  They make it possible to be professional and playful at the same time.  Courtney firmly believes that there are always opportunities for fun and creativity on the job.  In this spirit, rubber ducks pop up everywhere around DUX.  Apparently, Courtney knows a sweet site for all things rubber ducky.  If anyone finds themselves in need of a rubber duck, she’s got the hook up.

Outside of DUX, Courtney is a bona fide foodie.  In addition to gardening and cooking, she writes cookbook reviews for Library Journal.  Crafting is another joy of hers.  It complements the abstractness of a job working primarily with technology, she says. At heart she is a tinkerer.  She finds something very satisfying about being presented with a problem and then making it work.  In DUX, “If it feels like magic [for the user] that’s what we aim for.”

To say “Ahoy!” (or find out more about that rubber ducky thing), follow Courtney’s adventures on Twitter at xocg.

The Faces of DUX presents: Garett Montanez

The Digital User Experience (DUX) department is the new kid on the block in the Wells Library, so we’re pretty keen to show everyone who we are and what we do.  The Faces of DUX, reDUX’s newest recurring feature, is intended to do just that.  Each post will introduce one department member to give the readers some insight into what the department is all about and how we fit into library world.  So without further ado, let’s find out what makes DUX tick (quack?)!

 Garett Montanez is currently the Lead Web Architect for the IUB libraries’ website in the Digital User Experience department, a position he describes as “mapping out what’s possible.”  While he does his fair share of programming and playing about with code, the majority of his time is spent on planning and analysis, determining what is working for users and where to take that technology in the future.  He puts much of his energy into finding new technologies to fulfill the dreams of the residents of library land.  Reading about and testing these technologies fill much of his days.  As Lead Web Architect, he is also Lead Web Technology Trouble-shooter, and spends a good amount of time putting out fires that crop up around the website.  While there are a million possibilities for the future of technologies in libraries, he says, it is his task to figure out what’s the best and most feasible route to improve user experience.  While navigating this vast landscape can be overwhelming, Garret expresses that the people he works with make the whole enterprise worthwhile.

He is currently working on migrating some of the libraries’ technologies over to more appropriate platforms, like Drupal for the website’s content management system and SharePoint for the libraries’ intranet.  As far as the future of the libraries goes, he sees a lot of possibilities for linked data in the future.  Linked data – which Garett explained eloquently as I stared blankly – is, in a small, general, and possibly grossly inaccurate nutshell, a method of structuring data such that both humans and computers can find relevant and related information easily, making the world wide web even webbier (and wider and worldlier).   For more information on linked data, check out these reports on linked data in libraries from the W3C Incubator Group and the Council of Library and Information Resources.

Garett did not begin his career in libraries with wide-eyed dreams of linked data.  In fact, he describes his path as a balancing act between traditional academic librarianship and the more technical side of librarianship.   He began his journey at IU, receiving his dual MLS/MIS degree from SLIS.  Out in the wide world he started as a computer tech, networking websites at a public library in Fort Wayne.  From there he continued to shift from tech guru to academic librarian and back again.  Garett discovered that having a background in both the technical side and the public service side of librarianship has served him well.  He is knowledgeable about the needs of public service librarians and can deliver results quickly due to his experience on both sides of the tech line.  Knowing the needs and the possibilities makes it easier to fulfill the goals of the libraries and librarians and work toward the best possible future.

Outside of DUX, Garett is the proud new father of baby James.  Although he says that having a baby has pretty drastically changed his lifestyle (he and his wife can no longer jet off to Indianapolis or Chicago for the occasional concert…for the next 18 years), he doesn’t seem too put off by this.  Ultimately, he says, he finds fatherhood to be “pretty cool.”

The Faces of DUX presents: Anne Haines

The Digital User Experience (DUX) department is the new kid on the block in the Wells Library, so we’re pretty keen to show everyone who we are and what we do.  The Faces of DUX, reDUX’s newest recurring feature, is intended to do just that.  Each post will introduce one department member to give the readers some insight into what the department is all about and how we fit into library world.  So without further ado, let’s find out what makes DUX tick (quack?)!

 Anne Haines’ journey to DUX is reminiscent of a Homeric epic, in which Anne plays the role of Odysseus and computers play the role of all that stuff that Odysseus has to deal with (you know, like the man-eating Cyclops, and that one goddess who turned all of Odysseus’ buddies into pigs).  She describes her path as a constant bargaining with the machine.  As an undergraduate, Anne took a computer programming course that led her to swear off computers forever.  Upon being abandoned by her project partner, skipping the final project, and receiving the lowest grade she’d ever received, Anne was ready to never face a computer again.  Little did she know…

Anne is now the Library Website Editor in the Digital User Experience (DUX) department.  She is adamant that she is not a coder or programmer and knows no more HTML than your average Library Science student.  She truly thinks of her role as an editorial one, much like a book or journal editor, in which she acts as a bridge between the users and the creators to bring material to people in an accessible and approachable way.  She translates programmer-speak to user-speak and back again.  Her typical day in DUX is never typical, a fact she is perfectly fine with.  Every day is a new adventure, consisting of meetings, committees, and putting out internet fires left and right.  So how did our epic hero go from forever eschewing computers to being the libraries’ primary contact for all things website related?

After completing her undergraduate degree in English, Anne describes her career path as less of a trajectory and more like “being flung from place to place.”  After a brief stint in a bakery she got a job in the registrar’s office, largely, she claims, because she could “type and show up.”  It was then that she realized computers were not devices of the underworld, but could be quite useful, and even (gasp!) fun.  Social networking, through music listservs and community bulletin boards, truly pulled Anne into the thrall of computers.  Finally, in 1993, Anne purchased a 213mb hard drive beaut of a machine.

It was at this point that Anne considered library school as a route through which she could play with computers without necessarily having to mess with 1s and 0s.  Throughout her time in SLIS, she worked several jobs in the library, including branch coordinator of the SLIS library and support staff in the Subject and Area Librarians office.  In the latter position, like a true hero, she successfully navigated the office through Y2K.

Upon completing her Master’s in Library Science, she moved fully into the tech world when, she claims, she was put in charge of the intranet while out sick one day.  That’ll teach her to be sick.  The libraries created a position in Library Information Technology as Documentation and Instructional Writing Coordinator, where she wrote content for the website and knowledge base.  With the formation of DUX, Anne finally fulfilled her destiny as Website Editor.  This brings us to present day.  What does our epic hero see on the horizon?  Anne believes that content strategy is the future of user experience in libraries.  You can read her blog post on the subject, as I’m not even going to attempt to tackle an explanation.

Outside of saving users from their website woes, Anne is a published poet (yes, you can check out her chapbook of poems from the Wells Library!), music lover, devoted cat mom, and social networking advocate.  Continue to follow her adventures on Twitter at annehaines.  When asked if she had any final thoughts for her devoted readers, Anne replied, “I really like my job, maybe not every single moment, but I think I have the best job in the library.”