Can you help? Seeking people to take part in user research

Experimenting toward the Digital Strategy

Visualization of the American English Dialect Recordings Collection in Citizen DJ.

Visualization of the American English Dialect Recordings Collection (held by the American Folklife Center) in Citizen DJ, a recent experiment from LC Labs.

In LC Labs we work collaboratively across the Library of Congress, and with external partners, to advance and the agency’s Digital Strategy. We do this through experimentation, engagement and research. We try approaches and explore technologies that could help us connect with users, share our resources in new ways, and cultivate an innovation culture. By doing small-scale projects in these areas, we gather evidence and insight, which we then try to share as widely as possible. The outcomes of these project can help inform future decisions and directions for how the Library uses technology to serve its vision and mission. 

In an upcoming year-in-review post, we’ll share more about our experiments in 2020. Our experiments in the last year have focused on exploring methods to open up collection to new kinds of engagement, research, and use. Those methods include machine learning, crowdsourcing and remixing. This year we want to build on what we’ve learned about theses methods and focus on how users are included, represented, blocked, served, harmed, or helped when we apply these new approaches and technologies to connect the Library to the public. 

Can you help shape our next experiments?

Several of the experiments we are planning for 2021 involve phases of research and testing with users. The Library has vast collections available online that reflect the knowledge, culture, and complexity of our nation and the world which are accessed by thousands of people everyday to learn, research and create. Because the Library exists to serve Congress and all Americans, we want to learn about the goals and needs of people who, right now, are not connected to and using the Library. We want to know more about what these users might need, their motivations and the potential barriers they experience in using the Library’s resources.

We are recruiting people who use digital resources–like historic photos, articles, books, documents, newspapers, music, video, maps, data or websites–in their work, life or studies but don’t use the resources provided by the Library of Congress. Our partner in this research is Digirati, they will use what we learn about people and their experiences to help the LC Labs team explore ways to make the Library’s collections and resources more useful to more people. 

Do you know anyone who would be willing to (virtually) sit down and talk with us?   

Logistics for the interviews

With the selected participants, we will carry out 1-on-1 interviews (not to exceed an hour). All interviews will be conducted remotely, over video chat. The schedule for the interviews will be based on what works best for the participants. 

Please get in touch with us if you know anyone who can help with this research by going directly to this sign up form, managed by Digirati. If you have any questions about the research you can email [email protected].

Thank you very much for any help or advice you can provide. Hearing from people who don’t yet use the Library of Congress’s digital resources will be incredibly useful as we continue to design a program of experimentation that will help us achieve our vision to connect the Library with all Americans.

That’s a wrap! 2020 Staff Innovator detail comes to a close

A reflection on the 2020 Staff Innovator detail from an LC Labs team member, shared in the hopes that some of the lessons we learned from this cross-institutional partnership may be applicable to other institutions and interesting to our readers! 

Connect with The Signal at the 2020 National Book Festival

By the People at the National Book Festival Tomorrow, Friday 9/25, marks the beginning of the 20th Library of Congress National Book Festival! Representatives from across the Library will be hosting festival-goers via virtual booths, where visitors can connect with their favorite Library programs and collections. A member of the By the People team will be […]

Citizen DJ at the virtual National Book Festival

This post was originally featured on the Minerva’s Kaleidoscope blog for kids and families. We’re excited and grateful to be able to re-share about this opportunity to experience Citizen DJ at the virtual National Book Festival next week!

Metaphors for Understanding Born Digital Collection Access: Part III

Kathleen O’Neill is currently serving as one of two Staff Innovators at the Library of Congress. Their 2020 project, Born Digital Access Now!, explores existing pathways for accessing born digital materials in the Manuscript Division. In this series of blog posts, Kathleen describes the complexities of gaining access to born digital materials through the lens of three different metaphors. Up first was “Media Format, or, Have Fun Storming the Castle!” The second blog post discussed “Legacy File Formats and Operating Systems or Lost in Translation.” This is the third and final post in the series and Kathleen carefully explains the process of emulation and makes it feel less like “strange magic.”