An Evening with the Rocky Mountain Special Libraries Association

Lydia Toupin

On Monday evening my colleagues Chris Coughlan, Jon Clark and I had the pleasure of representing Aten at the annual membership meeting of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Special Libraries Association. The RMSLA is a board-run association, which strives to enhance skills and promote value for individuals in Special Libraries and Information Organizations. Special Libraries are just that: special. This term refers to organizations focussing on literary and research materials specific to niche readers; like law libraries, private collection libraries, and stamp collecting libraries. Non-library information organizations focus on topics such as consulting, competitive intelligence and user experience.

RMSLA members and guests met at the Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library. Philatelic was a new word for me when I was invited to participate in this event; it refers to the study of stamps, postal items and related materials. The RMPL houses two buildings off of South Evans here in Denver, and is completely run by volunteer efforts. There are apparently over 10,000 books alone—not to mention other publications, materials and artifacts—just on stamp collecting housed at this one location.

Aten Design Group has become acquainted with the RMSLA through one of our team members, Chris Coughlan. Chris recently came on board with Aten to fill a much needed role as Information Architect. Her background in IA and Library Science makes her a great fit on our team and at the RMSLA where she serves as the President-Elect. Our team continues to hear about the struggles libraries face trying to build and maintain a clear and concise web presence for massive amounts of data and information. We have enjoyed the conversations and brain storming on this subject and the excitement of possibilities to meet these needs for local and national library organizations.

The meeting was well attended and Aten provided a delicious catered dinner. We heard from Alex Martinez, Senior Educational Web Developer at the University of Denver. Alex presented on "Informational Empathy," discussing the ultimate priority for web site designers and developers to focus on user experience. He guided us through a description and history of Information Architecture and then introduced a checklist to test website usability and user experience. There was a lot of audience participation when we used the checklist to examine and compare several webisites as a group, doing some of our own user testing.

One of Alex's opening statements really resonated with me. He said good designers and developers are people with big hearts, people wanting and willing to understand their clients and connect with end users.  It made me realize, again, how grateful I am to work with such an amazing team doing work that matters.

This event was a great opportunity to get connected with other individuals and groups working in IA and and to hear about how they are approaching their web needs and strategizing about solutions. We truly appreciate the opportunity to get involved on a local level with an organization engaged in such large-scale efforts. Thank you RMSLA for inviting us to be a part of your event!