UXLibs 7 – Speaker Biographies

As Library Director of Aarhus Public Libraries, Marie oversees the highly-acclaimed Dokk1 main library and 17 other branches. Dokk1 is the largest public library in the Nordic Countries and won the Public Library of the Year Award in 2016, renowned for its rethinking of library spaces, partnerships, participation in city development and the involvement of users. Since the beginning of her career in 2001 Marie has been part of Aarhus Public Libraries’ development of the library as a democratic space – a non-commercial arena that empowers citizenship, sustainable communities and human growth. Focusing on user-involvement, partnerships, design thinking and rethinking of library space, she has investigated new technologies, involvement processes and organisational learning in library development. Marie has also worked intensely with co-creation and partnerships – nationally and internationally – to push development, network and innovation in the library sector. She engages in international conversations and co-operation across the world about library development, democracy, advocacy and leadership. She serves as a member of ALA Business Advisory Group and as chair of the board of PL2030 – a non-profit European organisation aimed to put public libraries on the EU agenda and strengthen international network. She also serves on the board of the Danish Association of Library Directors and the Danish National Association of Digital Libraries.

ARUN VERMA (Keynote 2)
Dr Arun Verma is a leading figure in implementing and integrating intersectionality in systems, policy and programmes both nationally and internationally. He is a Senior Manager for Diversity and Inclusion at the Royal Academy of Engineering, Academic Tutor (University of Dundee) and Fellow of the RSA. He completed his doctorate exploring intersectionality in healthcare students’ learning, retention and success. He has led the integration and embedding of intersectionality and anti-racist practice in government commissioning, national and global programmes development and education through developing and implementing intersectional and inclusive policy and praxis interventions. Arun has also been granted a number of awards supporting and facilitating his research including the Nuffield Science Bursary, HEA Doctoral Fund and was recently nominated as  Diversity and Inclusion Leader 2022 by d&i leaders. He is a Trustee for Getting on Board working to diversify governance and his edited collection ‘Anti-racism in higher education: An action guide for change’ is already influencing the debate and accelerating action for inclusion in higher education.

Emma Thompson is Head of Academic Engagement and Teaching Services at Manchester Metropolitan University Library and Cultural Services. She loves working in universities because she’s surrounded by thousands of smart people: the students and the staff. Emma started out as a teenage Saturday assistant in a Belfast public library and later switched to academic libraries. She’s now a library senior leader and Senior Advance HE fellow, with experience across four UK university libraries. Her experience includes working with business schools to achieve accreditation, leading on research services and launching a learning development service. At Manchester Met, Emma has responsibility for student information and digital literacy development and education focused innovation and strategy. She’s currently working on a strategic project to transform the university library for the 2030s and beyond, where UX is at the heart of the programme.

Dr Victoria Olaniyan is a Senior User Researcher at Methods, a UK-based transformation partner for public services, who deliver end-to-end business and technical solutions that are people-centred, safe, and designed for the future.  She also works with Fintech and Public Health clients as both a hands-on UX researcher and strategic consultant/advisor. Prior to this, she has worked with a number of UK medical research charities where she led on the development of analytical approaches for health-focused programmes and partnerships. She is passionate about research that centres around bringing the voices of underrepresented groups upfront. Her PhD research focused on understanding the barriers to accessing mental health services for ethnic minority groups on university campuses. Her most recent work, ‘Just ethnic matching? Racial and ethnic minority students and culturally appropriate mental health provision at British universities’, explores how university staff and researchers can utilise reflexive person-specific approaches when engaging with and including minoritised communities in their work.

Shelley Gullikson did her first usability tests for a Human Computer Interaction course in 1998 and has been thinking about what does and doesn’t work for users ever since. Her varied library career has included forays into newstape cataloguing, law libraries, art libraries, information literacy, and government libraries, but she has spent the last decade at Carleton University Library, Ottawa, Canada, initially as Web Librarian and since 2021 as Web & UX Librarian. She’s still not quite sure what she wants to be when she grows up.

ANDY PRIESTNER (Opening Address & Pre-Conference Workshop)
Andy is a full-time freelancer in UX research and design who works with academic and public libraries all over the world, helping them to embed user experience methodologies. He is the author of ‘A Handbook of User Experience Research & Design in Libraries’ and creator of UX in Libraries, which he has organised and chaired since its inception in 2015.  He has recently taught UX courses at ten different universities in Australia and New Zealand, delivered online courses to the NHS and the Welsh Government, and led training at the House of Lords, the University of Leeds and Stockholm Public Libraries. He was a librarian for 20 years in academic and public libraries, principally at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He is passionate about the value of libraries and making them more relevant and user centred.