Helping users when they help themselves

As I was reading Robert S. Taylor’s article, Question-Negotiation and Information Seeking in Libraries*, I drew a lot of parallels between the librarian-patron interactions that he discussed and the human-computer interaction that is important to consider when creating web content and navigation.

rows of card catalog drawers

Back in Taylor’s day, the card catalog was a great way for patrons and librarians to find resources.
Source: University of Michigan Library Card Catalog by dfulmer / CC BY

Taylor discusses the negotiation process between a librarian and a patron, where a librarian and patron need to ask each other multiple questions to determine the true information need that usually begins as an intangible concept in a patron’s mind. This is generally a great way for patrons to become familiar with library resources and research. However, Taylor also examines the library system which many users choose over asking librarians for help. Back in Taylor’s day (1968), this system referred to the stacks of books and card catalog. In 2015, this library system has expanded to online resources. With our dependence on the omnipresent internet, it has become easier and easier to search for needs without asking others for help.

4 students sit at a library table using laptops

Libraries have changed so much in the past few decades. Source: Laptop desks in the computer science building by maebmij / CC BY

Because many patrons go directly to the library’s electronic resources, librarians miss out on the opportunity to help patrons find information through a negotiation process where librarians uncover the patron’s explicit research objectives. Therefore, libraries have a new challenge of educating users through electronic help guides. Because person-to-person interaction is lost in this setting, websites have the responsibility of guiding users to beneficial resources. Subject-specific guides, easily findable lists of resources, and help links are a great way to show users how to find library resources. Additionally, Ask a Librarian chat tools provide an outlet for users to ask questions without going to a reference desk.

Because patrons are increasingly using electronic resources to conduct their research, it’s important for libraries to understand patron needs and how they search for library resources. In this way, users can have a pleasant experience in finding their research needs even when they do not visit the physical library or ask librarians for help.

*Taylor, Robert Saxton. (1968). “Question-Negotiation and Information Seeking in Libraries.” College & Research Libraries, 29 (3): 178–94. http://crl.acrl.org/content/29/3/178.full.pdf+html

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New databases for March

The following list represents new subscription databases added to the A-Z list of Resources, as well as those for which the vendor or platform has changed, from March 2-31. You may wish to add one or more of these to your subject guides.  New databases will be posted to reDUX at the end of each month.

Health Business FullTEXT
http://libraries.iub.edu/health-business-fulltext

Humanities International Complete
http://libraries.iub.edu/humanities-international-complete

OMMBID
http://libraries.iub.edu/ommbid

Oxford Bibliographies Online: Cinema and Media Studies
http://libraries.iub.edu/oxford-bibliographies-online-cinema-and-media-studies

Poetry and Short Story Reference Center
http://libraries.iub.edu/poetry-and-short-story-reference-center

Swank Motion Pictures
http://libraries.iub.edu/swank-motion-pictures

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New databases for February

The following list represents new subscription databases added to the A-Z list of Resources, as well as those for which the vendor or platform has changed, from February 2-27. You may wish to add one or more of these to your subject guides.  New databases will be posted to reDUX at the end of each month.

Oxford Bibliographies Online: Public Health
http://libraries.iub.edu/oxford-bibliographies-online-public-health

Oxford Bibliographies Online: Renaissance and Reformation
http://libraries.iub.edu/oxford-bibliographies-online-renaissance-and-reformation

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New databases for January

The following list represents new subscription databases added to the A-Z list of Resources, as well as those for which the vendor or platform has changed, from January 2-30. You may wish to add one or more of these to your subject guides.  New databases will be posted to reDUX at the end of each month.

Apartheid South Africa 1948-1980
http://libraries.iub.edu/apartheid-south-africa-1948-1980

Frick Art Reference Library Periodicals Index
http://libraries.iub.edu/frick-art-reference-library-periodicals-index

Grand Tour
http://libraries.iub.edu/grand-tour

Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS)
http://libraries.iub.edu/joint-publications-research-service

Loeb Classical Library
http://libraries.iub.edu/loeb-classical-library

OneSource
http://libraries.iub.edu/onesource

Oxford Handbooks Online: Law
http://libraries.iub.edu/oxford-handbooks-online-law

Projekt Dyabola
http://libraries.iub.edu/projekt-dyabola

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global (PQDT Global)
http://libraries.iub.edu/proquest-dissertations-and-theses-global

Psychotherapy.net
http://libraries.iub.edu/psychotherapynet

Universal Database of Central Asia and the Caucasus (UDB-CAC)
http://libraries.iub.edu/universal-database-central-asia-and-Caucasus
[Formerly part of the Universal Database of CIS and Baltic Publications (UDB-CIS)]

Universal Database of Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and Baltics (UDB-EUR)
http://libraries.iub.edu/universal-database-ukraine-moldova-belarus-and-Baltics
[Formerly part of the Universal Database of CIS and Baltic Publications (UDB-CIS)]

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Small changes to make a big difference

In her Weave UX article, “Improving the Library Homepage through User Research – without a Total Redesign”, Amy Deschenes writes about the usefulness of making continual, small changes to a library’s website based on patron feedback and the results of user testing. Although user testing, feedback, site statistics, and/or heat maps are necessary to consider while completely redesigning a site, website managers can conduct further testing and analysis after a redesign. This can show how new features are being used by patrons and if they are helping a patron find desired information. By determining how a redesign is being used, site managers can make small changes where users can efficiently find information without becoming disoriented by large changes or even noticing that the site has changed.

Since the Summer 2014 Drupal migration, DRS has been making changes to the new Libraries’ site. A heat map revealed where users clicked on the homepage. Feedback from emails and reference desk questions indicated links and labels that were useful or needed to be changed. Google Analytics showed how long users stayed on each page and their navigation. Through this information, we were able to shorten the hompage and prioritize its links so that it is faster to find the footer’s useful information, such as recommended databases and hours.

In December, the ‘Start Your Research’ section in the top left had four subordinate categories to list links by subject. A heat map revealed that the links under the ‘Featured Collections’ and ‘Faculty & Graduate Students’ categories were underused.

The December 2014 homepage shows a large amount of content under the 'Start your Research' section.

The homepage on December 8th, 2014

Therefore, we got rid of the four categories and reduced the number of ‘Start Your Research’ links to those that are more widely used. We also changed the ‘Resources’ category in the navigation bar to ‘Research Resources’ to indicate that subject guides and databases are found within that category.

The January 2015 homepage shows that the content under 'Start your Research' has been condensed so that users scroll less to find the footer.

The homepage on January 22nd, 2015

By focusing on a few site features, we are able to improve the site’s usability without creating new obstacles for users. As users navigate the updated site, we can use statistics, feedback, and testing to continually improve the site in small ways that are barely noticeable, but helpful.

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New databases for December

The following list represents new subscription databases added to the A-Z list of Resources, as well as those for which the vendor or platform has changed, from December 1-30. You may wish to add one or more of these to your subject guides.  New databases will be posted to reDUX at the end of each month.

American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922
http://libraries.iub.edu/american-slavery-collection-1820-1922

Associated Press Collections
http://libraries.iub.edu/associated-press-collections-online

BIOSIS Citation Index
http://libraries.iub.edu/biosis-citation-index

Brazilian and Portuguese History and Culture: The Oliveira Lima Library
http://libraries.iub.edu/brazilian-and-portuguese-history-and-culture-oliveira-lima-library

British Literary Manuscripts Online
http://libraries.iub.edu/british-literary-manuscripts-online

Caribbean Newspapers 1718-1876
http://libraries.iub.edu/caribbean-newspapers-1718-1876

Chatham House Online Archive
http://libraries.iub.edu/chatham-house-online-archive

Communication Source (formerly Communication and Mass Media Complete)
http://libraries.iub.edu/communication-source

Counseling and Therapy in Video: Volume I
http://libraries.iub.edu/counseling-and-therapy-video-volume-I

Current Contents Connect
http://libraries.iub.edu/current-contents-connect

Data Citation Index
http://libraries.iub.edu/data-citation-index

Derwent Innovations Index
http://libraries.iub.edu/derwent-innovations-index

Evening Star, 1852-1981
http://libraries.iub.edu/evening-star-1852-1981

Fashion Studies Online
http://libraries.iub.edu/fashion-studies-online

Financial Times Historical Archive
http://libraries.iub.edu/financial-times-historical-archive-1888-2010

GeoScienceWorld eBook Collections
http://libraries.iub.edu/geoscienceworld-ebook-collections

Human Resource Management Online
http://libraries.iub.edu/human-resource-management-online

Human Rights Studies Online
http://libraries.iub.edu/human-rights-studies-online

Independent Digital Archive 1986-2012
http://libraries.iub.edu/independent-digital-archive-1986-2012

Independent Voices
http://libraries.iub.edu/independent-voices

Indigenous Peoples: North America
http://libraries.iub.edu/indigenous-peoples-north-america

Justis
http://libraries.iub.edu/justis

KCI Korean Journal Database
http://libraries.iub.edu/kci-korean-journal-database

Liberty Magazine
http://libraries.iub.edu/liberty-magazine-1924-1950

Listener Historical Archive
http://libraries.iub.edu/listener-historical-archive-1929-1991

The PBS Video Collection
http://libraries.iub.edu/pbs-video-collection

Psychological Experiments Online
http://libraries.iub.edu/psychological-experiments-online

SciELO Citation Index
http://libraries.iub.edu/scielo-citation-index

State Papers Online
http://libraries.iub.edu/state-papers-online

Sunday Times Digital Archive
http://libraries.iub.edu/sunday-times-digital-archive-1822-2006

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Introducing sought-after content strategy speaker Anne Haines!

We are sure excited. Know why?

Well, guess who’s speaking at Confab Central 2015, which is only the biggest event in content strategy? That’s right, our very own Anne Haines! She’ll be bringing some librarian-fu to Minneapolis in May.

We are so proud of her! Yay Anne!

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New databases for November

The following list represents new subscription databases added to the A-Z list of Resources, as well as those for which the vendor or platform has changed, from November 3-28. You may wish to add one or more of these to your subject guides.  New databases will be posted to reDUX at the end of each month.

American Doctoral Dissertations, 1933-1955
http://libraries.iub.edu/american-doctoral-dissertations-1933-1955

Education Week
http://libraries.iub.edu/education-week

ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the World
http://libraries.iub.edu/proquest-statistical-abstract-world

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New databases for October

The following list represents new subscription databases added to the A-Z list of Resources, as well as those for which the vendor or platform has changed, from October 1-31. You may wish to add one or more of these to your subject guides.  New databases will be posted to reDUX at the end of each month.

Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text
http://libraries.iub.edu/film-television-literature-index-full-text

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Transformations: Migrating to a New Model of Web Stewardship – For Further Reading

IOLUG conference logoCourtney Greene McDonald, Rachael Cohen, and I were pleased to give a panel presentation at today’s Indiana Online Users Group (IOLUG) fall conference. Our session description:

Transformations: Migrating to a New Model of Web Stewardship

Do you ever feel that although you are charged with running your website, it might actually be running you? We understand. Come and hear the epic tale of how the IU Bloomington Libraries migrated over 8000 pages from a decade-old locally-developed content management system to a shiny new Drupal-powered site by partnering with outside consultants — and, along the way, learned a few things about strategy and governance that are broadly applicable to web redesign or migration projects, small or large.

This session will describe how a small department discovered the secret to making a better web experience for our users lay in thinking holistically and strategically about our web content — in other words, in stewardship. No longer just chasing pages around, we were freed to invest our efforts into crafting a user-centric, sustainable web presence.

Attendees will walk away with new ideas and concrete strategies for prioritizing the end-user’s experience through emphasizing consistency and reducing clutter; introducing library staff to a new way of thinking strategically about web content (content strategy); and providing a more seamless discovery experience.

Many thanks to those who attended!  As promised, we’d like to share a few additional readings for those who may be interested in diving a little deeper. And we are happy to answer any additional questions that may arise after the fact – comment on this post, or use the “Contact Us” link above.

FOR FURTHER READING:

Casey, Meghan. “Content Strategy Can Save Us All from Slobdom.” Brain Traffic. 4 Aug. 2011.

Cohen, Georgy. “Structured Content: An Overview.” Meet Content. 27 Mar. 2012.

Halvorson, Kristina, and Melissa Rach. Content Strategy for the Web. 2nd ed. Berkeley, CA: New Riders, 2012.

Kissane, Erin. The Elements of Content Strategy. New York: A Book Apart, 2011.

Kurt, Lisa. “Responsive web design and libraries.” ACRL TechConnect Blog. Oct 4. 2012.

McDonald, Courtney Greene. Putting the User First: 30 Strategies for Transforming Library Services. ACRL, an imprint of the American Library Association, 2014.

Rasmussen, Claire. “Do It Like a Librarian: Ranganathan for Content Strategists.” Brain Traffic. 7 June 2012.

Schmidt, Aaron and Amanda Etches. Useful, Usable, Desirable: Applying User Experience at Your Library. Chicago: ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association, 2014.

Schmidt, Aaron. “Library Websites Should Be Smaller.” Walking Paper. 14 Mar. 2011.

United States Department of Health and Human Services. “User Experience Basics.” Usability.gov. Feb 19. 2014.

Weave: Journal of Library User Experience. [a new peer-reviewed open access journal focusing on topics related to user experience in libraries … check it out!]

“Writing for the Web” posts on this blog: https://blogs.libraries.iub.edu/redux/tag/writing-for-the-web/

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