Lunch with Lynda (3/3): Professional Personas

In the third and final post directly related to Lunch with Lynda, we’re talking about professional personas. The idea instantly resonated with me because I’ve always found personality tests to be useful, and in our discussion “personas” seemed to line up with personality characteristics. But it also resonated with me because personas are a useful tool in User Centered Design.

Remember how in the first post in this series I was talking about how I’m not a reference person by nature? Well, Lynda totally is. You can feel it in conversations with her. Her real passion lies in one-on-one work with students over a sustained period of time. When she talks about witnessing the growth of students, you know she’s found her calling.

As we talked, it became apparent that Lynda’s drive is helping students be better suited to find and use what they need over the course of their college career. I, too, care a lot about the success of our users, but my drive is about positing the library to be ready for the students who are coming 10, 20, 30 years down the road. What format of resources will they expect? How will they expect to use them? What should the library look like? (Because we have to start those plans and renovations today.) What skills will librarians need? What will their role be on campus? Those questions–and more like them–are what excite me about our work, and what I find the most meaning in.

Specifically, the thing that motivates me to do whatever it is I do is to help libraries evolve and continue to remain relevant. The cultural institution of The Library is too important to let it fade out. I know I’m blogging to the choir here.


Prevent the end of something good.

Similarly to Lynda, I know of reference librarians who light up when they get an unexpected question, or who can recall endless facts and have encyclopedic knowledge. I’ve known librarians who work with metadata who have an attention to detail that I’d love to have–it would come in handy when editing my writing! :) And actually, the skill I get to use on a daily basis is presence in front of a group. I may be shy, but I am able to get a group of people on the same page and enthused about a topic–or at least not bored by seemingly boring topics.

So, our conversation evolved to be about personas. We thought that it would make sense that in a library there ought to be representation by a several personas–possibly tied to job, but also possibly not. We knew there’d need to be a strategy person and a student-focused/research person. We thought there probably should be a performing/teaching person and a detailed person. Are there personas we’re missing? And what type of “persona” might you be?

If nothing else, it can make for a fun fantasy-league style library game. :)

My name is Lauren Pressley. This is where I think out loud, document what I'm doing, and share the things that I like. I'm the Director for Learning Environments at Virginia Tech University Libraries and author of a few books. This blog focuses on libraries, education, information, & the internet. When not at work or blogging, I spend most of my time with John and our son, Leif.

5 thoughts on “Lunch with Lynda (3/3): Professional Personas

  1. I need to read up more on UCD. I had no idea about the personas aspect of it.

    I hope some people respond with other ideas! The fantasy league is too much fun to pass up.

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