Tuesday, March 25, 2008
But we have not been able to resist making some changes. Even though I have been trying to put the brakes on too much change in the website, while encouraging people in the Library to think about what kind of website they would like to see and use in the future, the pace of change has recently quickened. I thought it would be a good time to acknowledge some of these changes and talk about where they might lead us in the future.
Use the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine to look at the website as of August 2006
We have cut down on the number of quicklinks, changed the orientation from two vertical columns to two horizontal rows, removed the bottom row of links to library departments, and switched from a Times to a sans serif font.
More importantly, we have added a quick search of the library catalog and selected other databases, a beta of federated searching and more ways of connecting with librarians (see the Meebo IM box.) Hopefully these are the beginning of new ways of enabling people to search and new ways of communicating with our users, and more importantly, them communicating with us. In general I think we are seeing a move away from a website designed around how the library is organized and towards a website designed around how people want to use our library.
Moving beyond the homepage, our link to article indexes and databases has also changed significantly. Again, we are trying to provide multiple forms of access to the major reason people use our site -- to find information resources and documents. Instead of trying to find the one best way, we have given people lots of ways. Previously we had a two column list of databases, followed by a duplicate list of databases with descriptions. It worked, but people got confused by the two columns. Now they can choose from a quick list at the very top, a linked alphabet that takes them to databases plus short descriptions that start with that letter, or scroll down to that list of databases plus short descriptions . In my humble opinion, it is not there yet, but it is closer. We need to emphasize a sophisticated form of federated search for our users, reducing the need to choose a database unless they really want to.
Another page that is, I think, all new is the ask a librarian page. Just a very different design from other pages on the site. I will be interested to see what our students make of it when we conduct usability testing. What I really like about this is that we have really expanded the potential channels of communication between our users and librarians. We now need to find ways to get those channels off the library website and out to where our users are -- Foxlink, the student intranet, Blackboard, department websites etc.
Finally, our About page has changed. The design is still as clunky as ever, but there is some new content. We have begun to recognize that most people, most of the time, do not want to know about the library. So this is the place to put access to departments, to people, to plans, etc. I am happy to see access to the current plan, and that is a wiki, so that is constantly developing. Also the calendars are now part of the wider campus calendar. This calendar system is not perfect, but I think we are on the right track when we use existing infrastructure rather than trying to make our own.
Expect to see more radical changes in the future, I think we will soon see a website that emphasis find, help, online services, communication, and interactivity, while being aesthetically pleasing and amenable to small parts being broken off and added to other webpages. In the meantime, I want to recognize the changes that have taken place so far and also complement Paul Gindlesperger and Bill Svitavsky both of Electronic Resources who have done most of the web editing and development that has got us here, and to everyone else who has participated in making these changes.
I would love to hear your comments about these changes.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Harvard's Decision to Publish on the Web the Scholarly Work of their Faculty
Harvard A&S Decision
“The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) voted Tuesday (Feb. 12) to give the University a worldwide license to make each faculty member’s scholarly articles available and to exercise the copyright in the articles, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit.”
“Harvard will take advantage of the license by hosting FAS faculty members’ scholarly articles in an open-access repository, making them available worldwide for free. The faculty member will retain the copyright of the article, subject to the University’s license. The repository contents can be made widely available to the public through such search engines such as Google Scholar. Faculty members may request a waiver of the license for particular articles where this is preferable. The new legislation does not apply to articles completed before its adoption.”
The other very significant OA development in the last year was passage of a measure by Congress that made the National Institutes of Health (NIH) access policy mandatory rather than voluntary. The NIH policy “ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH funded research. It requires scientists to submit journal articles that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/).” For more information on the NIH Access Policy see http://publicaccess.nih.gov/.
Major Issues Involved in OA
So now comments appear immediately and I get an e-mail when one is posted. If I am encouraging our staff in the Library to reconsider (not abandon, just reconsider) the level of professional control we exercise over information delivery in this Web 2.0 world, then I should practice what I preach.
So go ahead, comment away. Please, I'm beggin' ya.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
The meat of the card though is the invitation to add any comments our users want to make. I have already copied these responses to everyone in the library. I want to add them here and respond to each comment. I am also going to ask Paul to put these in rotation on the plasma screen in the atrium of the library. I think it is important that we show our users that we value their comments by actually responding. When the comments are about a similar issue I have grouped them together. I have also removed the names and titles of library personnel noted in the comments (both positively and negatively) and also users' e-mail addresses. In each of these cases the specific comment has already been shared with the person mentioned and with their supervisor. So here goes. The comments are italicized, my responses are not.
Hours: "How is it two weeks into the semester and the 24 hr lab is still not open? Don't we pay close to $50,000 a year in tuition?" "OPEN THE 24 HOUR LAB PLEASE !! :O(" "Please stay open more often - Thanks!" "I have lots of work and it would be great if the library was open Friday and Saturday nights." "stay open on Friday and Saturday nights." "It is so, so, so frustrating that on the weekends you guys open at 11 and that is too late. I get up and the earliest I can eat breakfast is 9 am. Then there is an awkward 2 hour gap I can't do any work. I feel for library staff in the a.m.. One solution is to be open 24/7. I see no reason not to be open 24/7." "Why aren't you open on Saturday nights?" "Can you stay open Saturday nights?" "The library/24 hour lab needs to stay open for Saturday nights and Friday nights. I like having a quiet place to do homework and study." "Please stay open later on weekends."
Response: I am delighted to be able to say that we heard you loud and clear. Information technology has extended the hours of the late Night Lab in the Olin Library until midnight on both Friday and Saturday nights throughout the semester. Every other day it is open 24/7. We will also be opening the whole library 24 hours a day for the week before and the week of exams. Also, if you crave quiet study space through the night, the Provost has started a program that allows any Rollins student to request that a classroom be opened for them 24/7. All you have to do is ask, by calling Campus Safety at ext. 2999.
Good Service: "Comments: Every time I call on or come by, someone with a smile is always willing to help me. Thank you!!" " I appreciate the great service!" "I have been coming to the library to study and check out books for quite a while. The ladies at the front desk at night are extremely helpful, knowledgeable and friendly. I love the atmosphere. Thanks to all!" "Great staff" "I would like to say that **** was especially helpful at the front desk and I really appreciate it!" "**** is wonderful, excellent!"
Response: High quality service is our highest priority. I am glad to see you appreciate it. Thanks for letting us know, I immediately discuss the comments that we can link to a specific employee or department with the people involved immediately.
Bad Service: "In general, this library does not have a service attitude. Patrons are often treated like an annoyance or a disruption." "****, the ****, is rude and talks to students in an inappropriate manner." "The people are very unfriendly, need work on people skills."
Response: Personally, these are the most painful comments we receive. Rest assured when we can link these comments to a specific employee or department, I discuss them with the people involved immediately. We have changed many policies over the last 18 months in a effort to improve service and we are currently working on strengthening our personnel review procedures so that we can deal with these problems effectively and help all our personnel provide high quality, consistent, service to everyone. Please keep letting us know if we don't meet your standards. the more specific you can be the better.
Books: "you need a bigger selection of books (fiction.)"
Response: It is great to hear from someone who still likes to crack open a good book. If you mean the rotating collection of bestsellers that we shelve in the lobby, titles in that collection change frequently, so I hope you keep checking. You can also always let us know if you want us to get a specific title. But don't forget that we also have a lot more works of fiction up on the 4th floor. These are the books we own. You will generally find them in the P's on the 4th floor. But we also have a large selection of science fiction on that floor as well. Again, let me know if you want something and we will do what we can to get hold of it. Also don't forget your local public library.
Noise: "I wish the team members would not talk so loud when students are trying to read."
Response: I passed this comment on to all the staff at all service desks as soon as we got it. Thanks for reminding us that our workplace is your study space. Remember that the 3rd and 4th floors are designated as quiet study areas, while the 1st and 2nd are for group study. Find a quiet spot upstairs if you find the main floor too noisy. My favorite is the Tower Room.
Bookmark Café: "It would be great if the bookmark café opened earlier on Sundays and carried some supplies i.e. highlighters, pens, pads of paper, index cards etc. We have been working and exhausted our supplies and had to leave campus to find and buy supplies. Thank you!"
Response: The Café has gradually been extending its hours of operation and the range of food and drinks it sells. Personally, I would like it to be open all the hours that the Library is, but I understand the need for them to work efficiently and, based on how much revenue the Café generates, it doesn't make much sense for it to be open those hours. Sorry, but the Cornell Dining Center is open, as is 7-Eleven for supplies. I have passed your suggestion on to Dining Services.
Bikes: "The library needs a second bike rack out front."
Response: As someone who bikes to work every day, I agree. I have passed your suggestion on to Facilities Services. I also have a suggestion of my own. At least one bike has been parked in our bike rack since December. Share the road guys! Don't take up space you don't need.
Cables: "I almost tripped over one of the cables powering a laptop being used in the area beside the teaching lab. Would it be possible to have outlets on the same side as the chairs?"
Response: Power for laptops is a big problem in libraries built before 2000. The Olin Library opened in 1985 well before we saw the advent of wireless access and students with laptops. As we renovate space we definitely take this issue into consideration (see all the outlets on the loggia as an example.) Power in the middle of rooms with concrete floors is even more of a problem. You can either hang it from the ceiling (which only fits certain industrial style aesthetics) or drill from below, which is not always possible. I have come to realize two things: first, you can never have enough power outlets and second, they will always be in the wrong place!
Bathrooms: "Bathrooms are over-scented."
Response: Hey, it is better than the alternative! Seriously though, I have passed this comment on to our custodial staff.
So keep those comments coming. I hope you can see we read them all and they do make a difference. Thanks.