Blog Task 2

August 8, 2014

This isn’t part of my morning commute, but it is something that is very important to me. While I could not be a perfect observer (you have to be a patient or a family member of the patient), I could still observe new patients and families entering the library at the children’s hospital as an employee…

When entering Golisano Children’s Hospital, patients and families are notified that there is a library on the 12th floor where they can check out games, movies, books, and other things to help ease their child’s stay at the hospital. The space is formally called “The Family Resource Center”, and does not have “library” written anywhere. Here are some observations I made one morning:

  • numerous parents coming in (without their children who are presumably still in bed) asking if this is the library or how to get to the library
  • the circulation desk, which is located right near the entrance, always makes it so someone is greeting anyone who comes in
  • desk staff generally asks if its their first time in the space, in which case they will have them fill out a library card and then give them the rundown on how the space is organized and what resources they have at their disposal
  • most parents want to get in and out right away so they can head back to the room to their child; they are given a master list that they can take back to the room and explore the options with their child, limiting time away from their child
  • conversely, some parents come in with children looking to hang out, sit down and play board games or read picture books to each other
  • some people walk in looking as if they know what’s going on already and start browsing – they don’t have a library card or know the limit to the number of movies to check out or they don’t know all the services… the desk staff sometimes misses these people until they are ready to check out in the end; it creates a little bit of confusion for everyone
  • most of the time people come in unexpectedly to the hospital (emergency visits). because it is summer here, it’s really hot, but the temperature of the hospital is very cold and so you see people in shorts complaining that they are freezing
  • the space in general is very colorful and kid-friendly (all 2 floors of the children’s hospital is); I heard many compliments about how parents wish they were kids again so they could go to this hospital and not the grown-up one which is much more stereotypical in the way of the gloomy hospital atmosphere
  • LOTS of people saying they are so glad this service is available- helps visiting brothers and sisters stay in line too

I’ve made a million more observations, but I’ll settle with these because they were the most common.

Here is the sketch

Pictures of the space… circulation desk as you first walk in, opposite side of circ desk, movie collection in black boxes






Entry Filed under: INF536. Posted in  INF536 .

7 Comments Add your own

  •  |  August 8th, 2014 at 6:15 pm     Reply

    Since, according to your observations, it seems that a high number of people are confused by the term “Family Resource Center” vs. “Library”, a small, user-centric change you might be able to make is change the name and keep it consistent throughout the building (whether on a sign, verbal communication or otherwise).

    Additionally, this is probably a germ-infested disaster waiting to happen, but you could potentially provide blankets for the people who come in and subsequently complain about the temperature of the space! (Probably just make sure they are regularly laundered…) This goes along with David Kelley’s TED talk about human-centered design when he discusses the creation of the “ultimate cubicle” for Dilbert, complete with unique personal touches that made it kind of feel like a home away from home.

  •    jerry.leeson  |  August 9th, 2014 at 12:27 am     Reply

    Hi Shannon, great post! A couple of things stood out for me. Firstly, your sketch – I opened it expecting it to be a map of the space however you had added lots of observations into it from the people you observed. I thought that was fantastic. It really gave a sense of the place and how it is being perceived by the people in it.
    Secondly, there are lots of very positive observations so I was wondering who participated in the design process of it. As Bezaitis said in her TED talk and Kuratko et al discussed, the importance of different people and perspectives are important – so I was left thinking how much that played into what looks like a really successful place. Also, I wonder how many iterations and modifications it has gone through so far. As for a suggestion, may be some signage as a reminder ‘Have you got your library card?’ might prompt some of those people that have made some assumptions.

    •    Shannon Campbell  |  August 9th, 2014 at 2:07 am     Reply

      Jerry- the library/hospital is VERY young. I don’t know the exact date, but it was built about 5ish years ago, and the library was added on a year later. The purpose of the library has changed too – it was first just a medical library, with some changes in between, and now its more for entertainment for the young ones (with medical reference as well). The outside design of the hospital is gorgeous too. Below I added a link with a picture of the hospital, the children get the part that juts out on top with all the pretty colored glass. They call it the treehouse. I need to do some research on the hospital itself and why they decided to design it as they did, because it’s fabulous, and it DOES help to improve the patient experience.

  •    Etam  |  August 9th, 2014 at 2:56 am     Reply

    As a childrens’ hospital Shannon I really like the idea of a colourful space designed for children. This fits with my own thoughts of ‘sheep’ (

    As people and particularly ‘our students today’ we tend to follow each other and have an overarching desire for intrinsic direction (we have internalised our routine) – as opposed to extrinsicly explicit direction of ‘my school years’ which was more about read this, copy that.

    The children in hospital have their own internalisations of what spaces should be like and these have been shaped by the world around them. Colourful, media, limitless choice, immediacy.

  •    Matt  |  August 9th, 2014 at 10:37 pm     Reply

    Hi Shannon,

    It found it interesting that you observed most parents wanting to get in and out as quickly as possible, presumably to get back to their sick children, but that also lots of parents used the space as a hangout / chill area to get away from their rooms. What jumped to mind was that to save people the trip there, could a librarian do some rounds with some books (like I always see happen in prison movies!) or take orders online and then deliver them… Just a thought!

    •    Shannon Campbell  |  August 10th, 2014 at 4:12 pm     Reply

      We have one librarian who is employed by the hospital who can make rounds like that, but it’s mostly for medical reference. Unfortunately, she cannot get to everyone as they first come in, so sometimes it’s a while before they are aware of what is available. The circulation desk staff (like me) are employed through the library, so we aren’t allowed to enter the rooms or the different medical wings. That’s a road block we’re looking to work around, because sometimes we have down time in which we could make deliveries!

  •    Ewan McIntosh  |  August 13th, 2014 at 12:32 pm     Reply

    A whole host of problems, some admittedly more complex than others, waiting to be redesigned! It’s funny, too, given that it’s a relatively new building to have quite so many confused purposes. I wonder if that was an effect of the time it was conceived (rich times, things going well) versus the era it was launched into (2008/9, no money, things having to double up purpose).

    Can’t wait to see the brief you develop for this.

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