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Opening What's Closed: Using Open Source Tools to Tear Down [Vendor] Silos
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Opening What's Closed: Using Open Source Tools to Tear Down [Vendor] Silos


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The University of Michigan Library's web site is a consistent, integrated front end on what was a collection of 19 distinctly different library sites and multiple library silos. The library's site now …

The University of Michigan Library's web site is a consistent, integrated front end on what was a collection of 19 distinctly different library sites and multiple library silos. The library's site now combines a variety of tools (including Drupal, VuFind, Springshare's LibGuides, Ex Libris's Metalib, DSpace, and Solr) within a single interface. In this talk, you will learn about the design process that informed the system architecture and the way we are using data from both open source and proprietary software to break down information silos. Presented at WiLSWOrld 2010 in Madison, Wisonsin

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  • This and following section based on slides created by Liene Karels, Director of Communications, University of Michigan Library
  • Transcript

    • 1. Opening What's Closed:Using Open Source Tools to Tear Down [Vendor] Silos
      WiLSWorld21 July 2010
    • 2. Outline
      Challenge Answered: Design
      Challenge Answered: Technology
      How We Break Down Silos
    • 3. The challenges we faced
    • 4. Our Problem
    • 5. Our Problem
      Federated Search
      Research Guides x 3
      300+ database providers
      Thousands of online journals
      Dozens of libraries
      Can’t We All Just Get Along?
    • 6. Information Not Location
      Web Team charge: allow the Dean to find stuff more easily
      A vehicle for a single identity – the MLibrary brand
      Provide a unified user experience
      Platonic Ideal – Eliminate Silos
    • 7. Design Phase 1
    • 8. Phase I: The Band-Aid
      Force the brand onto the site
      Provide consistent navigation
      Identify duplicated content
      Practice the idea of thinking of ourselves as one
      Reduced, but didn’t eliminate, heterogeneity of interface
    • 9.
    • 10.
    • 11. Data Gathering
      Broad user survey
      One question survey
      Focus groups
      Advisory groups
    • 12. Users Told Us
      • Wanted to know what was important
      • 13. Did not want to know where to start: information, not location
      • 14. Single interface & design would reduce confusion
      • 15. No lists of links (except faculty wanted a list of ejournals)
    • Translation
      Searching and browsing are the most frequently sought functions: Find Bar
      Building a single system – single visual, consistent services
      Move to a content management system
      Eliminate silos – our own and vendor’s
    • 16. Design Phase 2
    • 17. Visual Priorities
      Provide a ubiquitous, persistent FIND function
      Establish clear visual hierarchy
      Make us look hip, clean, contemporary
      Show off our treasures (they’re never seen!)
      Tell our news
      Reveal things that aren’t known about us
    • 18.
    • 19. Visual Elements
      Soft colors don’t compete with primary function
      Regular rhythms help users anticipate – use a grid
      Design philosophy – keep it simple
      If the design is invisible, the design succeeds
    • 20.
    • 21.
    • 22.
    • 23.
    • 24. Today’s Gateway
    • 26. Putting the User First
      Review what users told us:
      Wanted librarians to tell them what was important
      Wanted easy starting poit
      Wanted unified design
      No lists of links*
      Built site around search and browse
      Used technology to beat silos into access
      * Except faculty. They LOVE their A-Z online journals list
    • 27. Development Principles
      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
    • 28. Ex Libris
      Catalog (Aleph)
      Federated Search (Metalib)
      Link Resolver (SFX)
      Largely closed systems
    • 29. VuFind
      Open Source OPAC
      Based on Solr
      Largely open
    • 30. LibGuides
      Moved subject content out of web site
      Better presentation for our users without building a tool
      Still wanted to include in site search
      Open data, not open application
    • 31. DSpace
      Institutional Repository
      Somewhat open
    • 32. Drupal
      Heart of the site
      Biggest strength: you can make it do anything
      Biggest weakness: you can make it do anything
      Enables very complex data flows
      Largely open
    • 33. Apache Solr
      Search (mostly) happens here
      We index lots of data from lots of sources
      But we aren’t building an index of everything
      DSpace (“Deep Blue”)
    • 34. Obligatory Data Flow Vision Test
    • 35. demonstration
    • 36. User testing and site revisions
    • 37. The road to Hell is paved with benign neglect.
      -- Me
    • 38. A Year in Review
      The punch list morphed into remodeling and redesign needs
      Reacting to feedback
      Conducting usability work
    • 39. Post Redesign: It Never Ends
      Integrating other services & applications
      Article Discovery is the 3rd leg of the stool (web and catalog done)
      Mobile interfaces
      New User Experience Department just formed
    • 40. 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
    • 41. Suzanne Chapman,
    • 42. Suzanne Chapman,
    • 43. Suzanne Chapman,
    • 44. Q&A
      Ken Varnum
      Web Systems Manager
      University of Michigan Library