or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

CIL2010: Well-Organized Sites and Portals

   April 12th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Well-Organized Sites & Portals
Mr. Chris Jasek, UCD Portfolio Manager, Elsevier
Emily R Shem-Tov, Research Portal Program Manager, Global Market Research & Planning, Adobe Systems, Inc.

Jasek offers best practices on how libraries can organize all of the features that their websites offer. He shares a five-step process that explains how to get from understanding users and the main tasks they come to accomplish to making the right choices on links or features to present. He recommends broad categories for organization of tasks/content to help web browsers find exactly what they need by improving the overall organization of features offered. Shem-Tov presents a case study of how a team of special librarians collaborates to provide services through a taxonomy- and search-driven research portal, physical and online libraries, information skills training programs, and a variety of social media tools. Find out how they continue to push the limits of what they can do by incorporating new technologies and tactics to better serve their customers and raise awareness of their offerings and of better information skills in general, and how they tie in the different elements through coordinated campaigns.

Chris Jasek:

Well-organized refers to

  • page layout, visual design, perception
  • user's mental model, user's tasks, intuition

"People don't come to a website to admire in, they come to get work done."

5 Steps to a well organized site

  1. Research your users Understand their needs and tasks, why they're coming to your website and what their abilities and expectations are.
    • Allow for multiple ways to locate information (by name, by suject, by material type)
    • provide detail (people want description, fulltext, and good suggestions)
    • Need help in recovering from wrong paths
    • Use words they understand
    • They want speed
  2. Survey similar sites Look at how other libraries are doing it. But don't blindly take ideas - test it with your patrons.
  3. Follow best practice design
    • Use page real estate wisely (top left is most important) and cut down on junk/ads/noise
    • Minimze number of clicks - shoot for 2-3 clicks
    • Use consistent navigation
    • Treat links according to convention - don't get fancy with colors and underlines. It's easier for patrons if your links look like what they're used to, and all of yours should be the same
    • Be consistent with design elements (provide help and contact links in upper right corner)
    • Use minimal colors and fonts
    • Make sure your site is accessible
  4. Test your design with users
    • Getting feedback is key, and make sure stakeholders and decision makers observe user tests
    • Plan first before development
    • do usability studies - observation is the best
    • Track stats
  5. Address issues and repeat
    • Identify problems, not solutions (figure out what is wrong, don't implement a fix that doesn't address the why
    • Multiple iterations are important - prioritize and realize that you are never done

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CIL2010: New and Hot: The Best of Resource Shelf

   April 12th, 2010 Brian Herzog

CIL2020 Gary PriceNew & Hot: The Best of Resource Shelf, with Gary Price, Publisher, ResourceShelf

Keeping up with all the changes in our industry and staying one step ahead of our clients require solid strategies to deal with this challenge. Our popular expert shares his ideas, learnings, top tips, and techniques from the search and search engine world to ensure that you stay in step with the fast-changing online information world.

Complete list of links at http://www.resourceshelf.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/bor2010cil.html, but I have some annotations below:

Web searches

Ready Reference

  • Wordnik - shows word-based results: definition, number of mentioned, examples common usage, etc.
  • Wolfram Alpha - educators are focusing on this as a replacement for almanacs and also as a computational engine. They're always adding and updating data.
  • MRQE - Movie Review Query Engine - reviews coming from traditional and social sources
  • AllMusic - info on singers, albums, groups, songs, and it also provides "related songs" and "influenced by" suggestions. Now all features are available without login. There's also allmovie.com and allgames.com.
  • Lyrics Wiki - great for song lyrics. One of the first spinoff wikis hosted on Wikia.com by a specialized group of Wikipedia editors
  • Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection - the go-to place for maps in the news, for education use, map research, or for general use

People Search

  • NNDB Notable Names search and biographical information. And NNDB Mapper is a visualization tool that shows relations between people.
  • Whitepages.com - like a typical people search, but uses public data to build a personal profile, including ages and neighbors
  • Muckety.com - similar to NNDB, but does it for business and business relationships between people
  • Go to http://www.resourceshelf.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/bor2010cil.html for more useful links

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    CIL2010: Experience Design Makeover

       April 12th, 2010 Brian Herzog

    CIL2010 David Lee KingMy first session at Computers in Libraries 2010: Experience Design Makeover by David Lee King

    Have customers said your website is confusing? Does your website desperately need an experience design makeover? This session guides you through a real-life library website extreme makeover, focusing on experience design elements used. It provides five ways to jump-start your own experience design makeovers and leaves you with solid ideas to use on your own website!

    Review of Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library website

    • Their website uses Expression Engine, will likely move to Drupal in the next interation
    • Modern websites should allow comments and provide feeds
    • Have Subject Feeds with new resources in those subjects, including Delicious bookmarks and new books
    • 240 staff person maintain 20+ blogs, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook web presence

    How did they get there? Ask.
    Staff: What do you like? What don't you like? What do you see patrons struggling with? What would you change?

    What would you change?

    • Too noisy - too many tabs, too much movement, too busy
    • Content - need to separate out emphermiral blog content from permanent library services info, too much jargon
    • Catalog - needs to be more Amazon-like (more like everywhere else on the web)
    • Functionality - doesn't print well, not kid-friendly (not a parents page about kid information), footer is wasted, accessibility (need text-only)
    • Services - not everything is listed on website

    Patrons: will do focus groups with the same questions as above

    It's good to surprise people with how cutting-edge you are. It doesn't hurt the people who don't care, but it will really impress and involve the people who do.

    Once you decide what you want, you need staff with the right skills to get you there. Just like you need the right staff at a service desk or branch library, you need to think the same way about your website.

    Maintenance is key - staff need to be taught how to write for the web, use a digital style guide, train staff on Web 2.0 tools so they're using them correctly, delineate responsibility

    5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Own Makeover

    1. Write an Experience Brief - the experience what you want people to have when they visit your website. Think about what you want it to be, and then plan for it and find the tools to support it. Think about target audience, what their needs are (from their points of view), how to put the information they need where they'll find it in terms they'll understand, including things relevant to them that they may not have thought of (classes, magazines [“deep web” subscription resources])
    2. Take a Touch Point Journey around your website (“touch point” is every time a patron comes in contact with the library) - “Get an Account” should be “Get a Library Card” (with prominent link text); form shouldn't be text-heavy - just use a picture of a library card
    3. Conversation is Experience - visors want to talk. Are you providing this ability? Do you answer them? This goes for your website but the rest of your online presence - Twitter, Facebook, etc.
    4. Answer the Why Questions - Put yourself in the patron's shoes and ask, Why should I read this? Why should I care about this page? Why should I attend this event? Do I care about “databases” or know what they are?
    5. Focus on the patron - Flip design from “staff-centric” to “patron-centric.” You can train staff, but you can't control patrons and you'll lose them quickly. Use patron-centric language, services, etc. Website should be as easy as a light switch to use.

    How do you handle department responsibilities for content management?
    We don't really have a gatekeeper - we train the staff and then trust them.

    Can you eliminate the RSVP link in Facebook events?
    We don't really use it. But there is a website for how to design a Facebook fan page.

    How do you decide to cross-post and cross-promote everything?
    We have a marketing director who handles most of that, but she does look at stats to see who our target audience is and use the appropriate tools

    Cross browser-problems?
    We have fewer problems with this, but we do check them

    How do you get staff doing content?
    Management team included “digital branch” in strategic plan, so creating content is a priority for staff (ranked in with shelving books and everything else)

    Do you do usability testing?
    Yes, we use focus groups just for questions, but we'll do limited “watching” of tasks

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    Going to Computers in Libraries 2010

       April 6th, 2010 Brian Herzog

    cil2010 logoNext week is Computers in Libraries 2010, and I'm lucky enough to be going and co-presenting a pre-conference workshop with Nicole Engard.

    Our workshop is Implementing Library Mashups, based partly on the book Nicole edited, Library Mashups. I'm looking forward to hearing Nicole speak, and I'll present* my chapter, then the rest of the workshop will be hands-on building mashups with the attendees. Keep an eye on Nicole's presentations page for the slides.

    There will be lots of other great speakers and workshops, so it should be a good time**. If you're there, be sure to say hi. And if you need help convincing your boss you should go, CiL provides help on justifying your trip, complete with a draft memo [doc].

    I'll try to blog, tweet and flickr as much as I can while traveling, both library and touristy things.

    Update 4/7/10: If you're going to Cil2010, here are some resources to check out. If you're not going, for you there is a list of bloggers who'll be taking notes.


    *Ah, public speaking, we meet again.

    **Not to mention sightseeing in Washington. I [heart] that city. And this time, I'm going to the International Spy Museum, tour the Capitol and see Senate in session - all outside of conference hours, of course.

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    Traveling for Business & Pleasure

       April 12th, 2007 Brian Herzog

    These two weeks see me traveling to both Charleston, SC, and Washington, DC.

    Pleasure in Charleston, SC
    I was in Charleston to visit one of my closest friends, who I haven't seen in way too long. In addition to just getting to spend time with her, we also spent a day on Bull Island, which is part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Bull Island is an unspoiled and undeveloped barrier island just north of Charleston, and we spent the day hiking around and taking pictures. If you ever get the chance, definitely visit. Here's a few pictures:

    herzogbr's Cape Romain, SC photoset Check out the rest of my Cape Romain, SC photos


    Library Business in Washington, DC
    (calling library stuff
    "business" seems odd to me, but there you go)
    This weekend I'm heading to Washington for the Computers In Libraries 2007 conference. I always enjoy Washington, and am also looking forward to the conference.

    My goals for the conference are:

    • talk to vendors with time management software for public PCs
    • learn more about incorporating rss and css into web design
    • look at cms systems to replace our static html/Dreamweaver current way of doing things
    • talk to vendors about federated searching
    • find out as much as I can about open source ILSs, since Horizon 8 is a no-go
    • be on the lookout for product like Delicious Library, but for PCs and web-ready

    Specific Sessions I will be attending (I usually play it by ear after I arrive, but these are definites):

    • [preconference] Michael Sauers' Integrating RSS into Your Web Site session
    • Tim Spauling's LibraryThing session
    • Jessamyn West's Firefox session

    We'll see how far I get. I'm also plan to tour the House of Representatives, sit in the gallery of the Senate, finally get to the National Archives, and hang out with a cousin of mine who lives in the area. If you see me there, please say hi. Otherwise, I'll be back next week.

    bull island, bulls island, cape romain, cape romain national wildlife refuge, charleston, charleston sc, cil, cil07, cil2007, computers in libraries, computers in libraries 2007, libraries, library, public libraries, public library, washington, washington dc

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