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Information, Not Location: Putting the What in Front of the Where So  Patrons can Find When, Why and How

Information, Not Location: Putting the What in Front of the Where So Patrons can Find When, Why and How



Talk given at NERCOMP's New Discovery Tools Symposium on 1 February 2010....

Talk given at NERCOMP's New Discovery Tools Symposium on 1 February 2010.

At the University of Michigan Library, we recently launched a new library web site [www.lib.umich.edu] that strives to put the library's resources in the foreground while leaving the particular tools that manage and provide access to them in the background. The site, built on Drupal, VuFind, LibGuides, and Ex Libris's Metalib, integrates a range of library services without forcing the user to look in specialized interfaces for them. For example, a site search dynamically returns results from the catalog (including materials available through the HathiTrust), our ejournals and databases lists, our web site, research guides, and librarian subject specialists. Our more static browse pages highlight the best resources in each of these categories for our patrons.



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  • Here’s our plan: we hope to give a bit of background about the project, to share info with you about the process, including usability results, and to share info about the tools/applications we’re using. We’ll finish up with what we learned and observed.
  • And this was an internal or secondary page on the site.
  • Knew all along that we had a phase II in the works, but a 4-member web team was given a charge…When Dean of Library says “I can’t find anything and neither can my faculty colleagues” you know you have to do something different not only with the design, but also with the content and the delivery of that content. On a decentralized campus, having the Dean endorse a plan to centralize appearance, services and interactions via the web was huge. The initial problem we were attempting to solve was to remove ‘location-based content’ or silos and to present ‘information’ and web interactions in a more consistent, coherent way. In a separate development path, Mlibrary was looking at an interface overlay on the OPAC, specifically, another group was attempting to test, develop and launch VuFind as the primary/additional catalog interface. In yet another development path, a third group was attempting to identify a tool for our resource/research/technology/subject guides. Prior to and during phase I we had 3 different methods for presenting guide-like information and recognized that we had to identify a single, web 2.0-like solution for all libraries. This 3rd group was in the process of evaluating SpringShare’s product, LibGuides.These other projects had an impact on development and decisions related to the web site redesign, and luckily we had a convergence of staff and planets that allowed us to tap into these tools and applications. We’ll talk more about the details of integrating the various tools in a moment. What it cost: before we go any further, we want to anticipate your question about how much did this process/project cost. While we don’t have a figure to share with you, it might help your understanding of the slides to come to know that: 3 librarians + PR specialist = web team 2 web developers8K on student help who initially migrated content from old web site/architecture into new application/architecture + usability40 or content managers who reviewed content migrated from old site to newAs we moved toward our second wave of project, phase II, we used an analogy with library staff of ‘building a house’. Mike will share more on this process.
  • The far right column is contacts -- who to see for more help.Subject specialists - up to 3 -- appear via call number mapping. User’s query in the catalog top 100 results mapped to call numbers High enough number of matches -> you get a subject specialist Or “Ask a Librarian” (default)Services or libraries can appear here based on keyword matchingAsk a Librarian ALWAYS appears

Information, Not Location: Putting the What in Front of the Where So  Patrons can Find When, Why and How Information, Not Location: Putting the What in Front of the Where So Patrons can Find When, Why and How Presentation Transcript

  • Information, Not LocationPutting the What in Front of the Where So Patrons can Find When, Why and How
    Ken Varnum
    University of Michigan Library
    NERCOMP New Discovery Tools Symposium
    February 1, 2010
  • Introduction
    Usability Process & Design Process
    Technologies Used
    Observations & Lessons
  • The Work of Many
    Scott Ash (Web Developer)
    Albert Bertram (Web Developer)
    Mike Creech (Web Content Manager)
    Bill Dueber (Programmer)
    Liene Karels (Director of Communications)
    Nancy Moussa (Web Developer)
    Karen Reiman-Sendi (Digital Initiatives Librarian)
    And Scores More….
  • Where We Started
  • Re-Architecting the Site
    Web Team charge: allow the Dean to find stuff more easily
    “Information, not location”
    Harness work with VuFind, LibGuides
  • Seeking/Setting a Direction
    Information Gathering
    Focus Groups
    Advisory Groups
    Drafting Blueprints
    User Interface
  • Typical Development Process
    Maintenance &
    Spec Building
    Design &
  • Our Development Process
    Data Collection
    & Analysis
    UI Design
    User Testing & Feedback
    Content Migration
  • The Foundation
    We open source software
    Preference for building over buying
    Trend toward customization of generic tool
    We have in-house capability to customize
    Drupal, VuFind, Solr
    But use more than open source
    Still live in a vendor-driven environment
    Metalib, EZProxy, SFX, Aleph ILS
  • Our Tool Box
  • Today’s Gateway
  • Search
  • Articles Search
  • Catalog Search
  • Browse
  • Get Help
    Contact a librarian
    Find documentation and guides
    Workshops & tutorials
  • It Never Ends
    Benign neglect is worse than apathy
    Reacting to feedback
    Conducting usability work
    Gateway page layout
    Quick Links
    Search / Browse Results
    Library units (underway)
  • Quick Links
    Guerilla test
    Students offered their favorite web links
    Shown our Quick Links list without title and
    Name the section
    Say where links went
    Given descriptions, asked to provide better labels
    Learned about labels, links, and placement
  • Search / Browse Results
    Individual Card Sort
    Volunteers did a search or a browse
    Given a template with two columns and cards with relevant headings
    Asked to put arrange them as they wanted
    Learned about consistency and users’ perceived importance
  • Solving the Org Chart
    Group card sort
    Selected ~40 operational units from library (out of 90)
    Give to a group of 5-7 students, ask them to sort how they find useful – as a group
    Then give labels
    Underway right now
  • Gateway Page Layout
    Participatory Design
    Volunteers get print-out of gateway page
    Circle things they like
    X-out things they don’t like
    Use post-its to add things that they want
    Learned interesting things about what students & librarians value
    Faculty study underway this term
  • Suzanne Chapman, suzchap@umich.edu
  • Suzanne Chapman, suzchap@umich.edu
  • Suzanne Chapman, suzchap@umich.edu
  • Observations
    Things it turns out we can’t live without
    Ejournals list, not just search
    Quick Links
    My Account
    Legacy content is a two-edged sword
    Top-down process can work
    Service providers can be helpful
  • What’s Next?
    Respond to outcomes from usability testing and patron feedback
    Future tools and functionality -- i.e., article discovery
    Building increasingly personalized services on top of new foundation
  • Q&A