What do the graduate student lounge, the chairs, and the Fondren library website all have in common? The User Experience (UX) Librarian and Marketing Team Lead Hollie Gardner.
Gardner started her journey as a librarian as the morning and, later, the night supervisor in the music library at the University of North Texas where she got her bachelor’s degree in music. “I ended up making the UNT music library my home throughout my undergraduate career,” she said. “Even though I was shifting around in my majors and trying to figure out the rest of my life, that was the one consistent thing [in my life]. It was always my happy place.”
As an UX librarian at Southern Methodist University, Gardner spends most of her time revamping the website.
“Whenever I think of user experience in the library, I think of all the different touchpoints,” she said. “You’ve got the obvious one like the website, which is the thing that first comes to mind. You’ve also got the facilities [such as] the chairs. I’ve had multiple samples of chairs [come into my office], and people sit in the different chairs to test them out. Then we have them vote for which ones are the best for the work that you’re going to do.”
Her hard work pays off when she hears stories about those who spend their whole day at Fondren Library, seeking out different spaces to study and work. “We have different spaces that meet different need states,” she said. “But that’s exactly what we wanted, making the most of the space in the ways they need to.”
Outside of curating spaces, Gardner spends her time working with the Director of the Master’s in Design and Innovation Programs (MADI) Jessica Burnham.
“I’ve been working with [Burnham] to design assignments, figure out the best places to go for research, not only inside the library but outside the library. That’s kind of one of my big things is whenever students graduate they won’t have access to the same types of resources, so I want to make sure they are able to find relevant work to support their work in the not university world and that they know the resources they still have access to as alumni here at SMU.”
Ultimately, Garden’s job can be summed up with the quote on the whiteboard in her office: “If you want people to do something, make it easy.”
For Gardner, that means simplifying things as to make them more accessible. “If you want people to use good information, then make it easier for them to get good information,” she said. “If you want them to cite things correctly, then make it easier for them to cite things correctly.”
Interview conducted by Author Wren Lee, SMU ’22 Creative Computation and Film and Media Arts Pre-Major and Fondren Library Marketing Department Student Assistant