Orange County Library System
In US public libraries we are faced with having been made the de facto waiting room for access to E-Gov services. People needing and relying on government assistance turn to their library to find out where they’re supposed to go, what forms they need, how to fill them out, and where to file them. In many cases the predominance of electronic forms and filing clashes with the lack of computer skills and literacy of those in need trying to apply for help. People are not only frustrated by trying to find out who can provide assistance but how to fill out and file forms electronically as well.
The RS/RT project provides a “create once, serve many” option that also provides the user with a level of privacy that generally face-to-face reference interviews cannot. The product was designed from a user’s stand point. Understanding that many service seekers have little experience with technology, we designed a clean and simple interface, requiring only a few actions to progress to the next step. We worked with a 4th grade reading level and provided 3 language options (English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole). To carry usability one step further we created a touch screen interface with kiosks in 14 library locations. Many E- Gov sites require the user to navigate to the service they need. RS/RT guides the user to appropriate services by using an iterative process to learn about both the user and their need to scope for appropriate matching.
Since a soft public launch in October 2010, we have had 333 users save profiles in the RS/RT system. Many other users simply visit the site and use the service without saving a profile. We have averaged 4,500 visits per month to the RS/RT home page with an average 15 minute stay on the site. We feel this indicates a more involved experience rather than casual look at the service. We currently have 175 vendor profiles for local service agencies and continue to conduct outreach to increase this figure. We have 5 other libraries (from large urban to rural) in Florida willing to engage in a pilot to engage in a statewide expansion of the service. We have only recently begun to survey but early results are good. Seventy-four percent of those surveyed answered yes when asked if the site helped them find the service they needed and 76 % intend to tell others about the site.