March 07, 2011
Reflecting on my ASB experience – I. Working at the Library of Congress
One of my fellow ASB-ers just updated his Facebook status to “ASB was way more than a blast! Don’t want to go back to school now.” Well, as you can probably guess, I couldn’t agree with him more. My ASB experience is not just about working at Library of Congress (although a big part), but also how I spent a fantastic week in DC.
Working at the Library of Congress (LOC).
It’s been almost four years since I visited LOC last time, when I was interning at the National Women’s History Museum for an online exhibition on Chinese American Women. I still remember how much I enjoyed working in its breathtaking main reading room and how I still wonder how big LOC’s structure is – so here came the opportunity to work for a week for LOC! What was even better was that I chose a project that somewhat had to do with HCI – at least from the description.
There were more than a dozen of us volunteering at LOC this time, and projects we got assigned were diverse – some would catalog historical photos, some would work with Japanese manuscripts, some would work at the Law Library. Four of us worked with the Office of Strategic Initiatives – among whom Evan and I worked on the website digitalgovernment.gov
There were two major sections of the site we mainly worked on – since these sections have been getting a great amount of hits and could be optimized potentially. One is the Tools and Services, and the other is the Personal Archiving. After communicating with the staff, we found that they were actually not only interested in optimizing the site with whatever it already had, but also augmenting its content to include more information. We were confident to do the former task, but were not sure how much we could contribute to the latter ones – since we are not digital preservation experts. We expressed our concern, but they seemed really interested in the latter task; as I understood later, since the site is targeted toward the general public, they probably wanted us to provide our non-expert point of view, which is closer to their target users.
So half of my week was spent on learning all the digital preservation tools from Tools and Services, adding some metadata, and trying to come up with a visualization method using a free open-source software called Recollection. While working on this, I couldn’t help thinking how many times I’ve heard of people’s first job experience doing things they were not good at but were just what need to be done, and I felt exactly the same. Good thing was I’ve really learned a lot about digital preservation tools; in fact, in this morning’s 500 class the professor brought up a project that I just learned – LOCKSS.
For the usability testing, Evan and I had a lot more freedom to explore whatever we wanted to do to make their website better. Due to the time limit, we couldn’t do any user-involved testing such as interviews and surveys, so we conducted heuristic evaluation, comparative analysis, and developed a testing protocol for their future use. They were like mini-622 projects with a two-people group. It was great to apply what I’ve just learned from class to the real world. Evan was also a great partner – we got a lot done within the several days.
On Friday afternoon we did a 30-minite presentation to present all our findings and recommendations. We will also send them other deliverables, such as the comparative analysis chart, and heuristic evaluation results – still trying to find time to work on them. We were really glad that what we’ve found seems helpful to them~
Posted by shichen at March 7, 2011 05:46 PM