Proof-of-Concept Checkout System

In this post, I would like to introduce the second major component of my capstone project: the proof-of concept checkout system.

After spending time researching and learning about ways to stabilize the collections and catalog the materials, the time came to apply this knowledge and create a proof-of-concept checkout system/workflow to accommodate in-reading room research requests as well as other uses of UTVA materials.

I intend simply for this blog post to serve as a short methods section, in which I describe some of the techniques we used to create our check-out system/workflow. I participated in stakeholder interviews, shadowed reference staff and pages, compiled previous use cases of UTVA materials, and, finally, crafted an imagined research/user scenario to ‘watch’ the process from start to finish. In subsequent blog posts, I will go into greater detail about each technique.

The stakeholder interviews allowed us to consider UTVA hardware from different perspectives within the Briscoe Center and to bring input from other members into the system/workflow, as these members may interact with the UTVA in the future. Ms. Meyerson and I spoke with “Exhibits”, “Reference”, and “Public Services” at the Briscoe. We wished to see the archives through their eyes.

Second, I shadowed both reference staff and the pages at the Briscoe. The plan was to see the Briscoe in action during a normal day. I spent time at the Reference Desk and followed pages while they reshelved items and retrieved other items. I was even ‘trained’ as a page so I could experience paging first hand. I was interested in observing the staff when bringing resources to bear when servicing research requests.

Third, I looked into the brief history of the UTVA and compiled previous use cases. The UTVA has been used in exhibits and in both undergraduate and graduate classes here at the University of Texas. These use cases help demonstrate the collections’ value as primary resources and can give clues about potential uses in the future.

In a loose sense, I am conducting an ethnographic study at the Briscoe, trying to understand its social context.

Finally, I am combining the lessons gleaned from these experiences in creating an imagined research/use case in which a hypothetical research team requests a specific gaming console. By watching the gaming console as it moves through the proposed workflow, we will better understand how we can provide better access.

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