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


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

  1. 1. Information, Not LocationPutting the What in Front of the Where So Patrons can Find When, Why and How<br />Ken Varnum<br />University of Michigan Library<br />NERCOMP New Discovery Tools Symposium <br />February 1, 2010<br />
  2. 2. Introduction<br />Background<br />Usability Process & Design Process<br />Technologies Used<br />Observations & Lessons<br />
  3. 3. The Work of Many<br />Scott Ash (Web Developer)<br />Albert Bertram (Web Developer)<br />Mike Creech (Web Content Manager)<br />Bill Dueber (Programmer)<br />Liene Karels (Director of Communications)<br />Nancy Moussa (Web Developer)<br />Karen Reiman-Sendi (Digital Initiatives Librarian)<br />And Scores More….<br />
  4. 4. Where We Started<br />
  5. 5.
  6. 6.
  7. 7. Re-Architecting the Site<br />Web Team charge: allow the Dean to find stuff more easily<br />“Information, not location”<br />Harness work with VuFind, LibGuides<br />
  8. 8. Seeking/Setting a Direction<br />Information Gathering<br />Surveys<br />Focus Groups <br />Advisory Groups <br />Drafting Blueprints<br />Taxonomy<br />User Interface<br />Technologies<br />
  9. 9. Typical Development Process<br />Analysis<br />Maintenance &<br />Updating<br />Spec Building<br />Design &<br />Development<br />Promotion<br />Coding<br />Testing<br />
  10. 10. Our Development Process<br />Data Collection<br />& Analysis<br />UI Design<br />Milestone<br />Release<br />User Testing & Feedback<br />Content Migration<br />SystemDevelopment<br />
  11. 11. The Foundation<br />We open source software<br />Preference for building over buying<br />Trend toward customization of generic tool<br />We have in-house capability to customize<br />Drupal, VuFind, Solr<br />But use more than open source<br />Still live in a vendor-driven environment<br />Metalib, EZProxy, SFX, Aleph ILS <br />
  12. 12. Our Tool Box<br />
  13. 13. Today’s Gateway<br />
  14. 14. Search<br />
  15. 15.
  16. 16.
  17. 17.
  18. 18.
  19. 19.
  20. 20. Articles Search<br />
  21. 21.
  22. 22. Catalog Search<br />
  23. 23. Browse<br />
  24. 24.
  25. 25.
  26. 26.
  27. 27.
  28. 28.
  29. 29. Get Help<br />Contact a librarian<br />Find documentation and guides<br />Workshops & tutorials<br />
  30. 30. It Never Ends<br />Benign neglect is worse than apathy<br />Reacting to feedback<br />Conducting usability work<br />Gateway page layout<br />Quick Links<br />Search / Browse Results<br />Library units (underway)<br />
  31. 31. Quick Links<br />Guerilla test<br />Students offered their favorite web links<br />Shown our Quick Links list without title and<br />Name the section<br />Say where links went<br />Given descriptions, asked to provide better labels<br />Learned about labels, links, and placement<br />
  32. 32. Search / Browse Results<br />Individual Card Sort<br />Volunteers did a search or a browse<br />Given a template with two columns and cards with relevant headings<br />Asked to put arrange them as they wanted<br />Learned about consistency and users’ perceived importance<br />
  33. 33. Solving the Org Chart<br />Group card sort<br />Selected ~40 operational units from library (out of 90)<br />Give to a group of 5-7 students, ask them to sort how they find useful – as a group<br />Then give labels<br />Underway right now<br />
  34. 34. Gateway Page Layout<br />Participatory Design<br />Volunteers get print-out of gateway page<br />Circle things they like<br />X-out things they don’t like<br />Use post-its to add things that they want<br />Learned interesting things about what students & librarians value<br />Faculty study underway this term<br />
  35. 35. Suzanne Chapman,<br />
  36. 36. Suzanne Chapman,<br />
  37. 37. Suzanne Chapman,<br />
  38. 38. Observations<br />Things it turns out we can’t live without<br />Ejournals list, not just search<br />Quick Links<br />My Account<br />Legacy content is a two-edged sword<br />Top-down process can work<br />Service providers can be helpful<br />
  39. 39. What’s Next?<br />Respond to outcomes from usability testing and patron feedback<br />Future tools and functionality -- i.e., article discovery<br />Building increasingly personalized services on top of new foundation<br />
  40. 40. Q&A <br />