The Inspired User

July 18, 2006 on 4:04 pm | In Human Systems | No Comments

Every user has her/his own reasons for seeking out libraries and library resources. All users are motivated by something — very often something exciting to them. So perhaps they enter the library inspired but then become somewhat daunted by unfamiliar surroundings, rules, practices, and mysteries. Some are further motivated to understand all these thngs that lie between them and the object of their interest but most feel like they are slogging through quick-sand to get to their stuff. The Mercurial wings on their feet vanish as they encounter obstacles -whether physical, virtual, or in the policy realm.

Cirque du Soleil The Spark: Igniting the Creative Fire That Lives within Us All,” a book about the Montreal circus Cirque du Soleil contains a few nuggets that caused some recognition in my mind of things libraries and librarians could be thinking about. The first little riff for me was triggered by the following comment:
“Every new layer of management, every new rule or form gets in the way. They deaden the magic — cut off the electicity of inspiration. If there are too many restrictions, you stop thinking about what you can do and start thinking about what you cannot do.”

That last phrase: thinking about what one cannot do really got me thinking about whether this might not be the biggest challenge facing libraries in their attempt to invite users into their virtual and physical spaces and into the conversations that create those spaces.

How can we best preserve the users’ ability to stay in their “zone” — to stay with their inspiration or motivation and not ask them to stop thinking about what they can do because they have to think about the things they cannot do in our spaces? Their passion is what carries them forward into the mysteries they will spend much time unravelling. These tantalizing mysteries should not be related to how to access what they are passionate about but about the very thing that motivated them to enter library spaces in the first place.

How do we recognize an inspired user and how do we recognize an inspired user who has been blocked by having to think about what they cannot do?

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