Redesigning a Faculty Services Page

Today, we start the process of redesigning a page on our library’s website that details various services available to faculty members. I thought it might useful to document that process a bit.

Some History

The library here at Baruch College launched a redesigned website on December 26, 2012. Most of the work that went into the redesign focused on student needs. Now, we’d like to take some time to rethink how the services and resources of interest to the faculty are presented on the site. The text on the current “Faculty Services” page is mostly the same text we had on the old site.

The Plan

The short version: needs assessment, redesign, usability tests, tweak design as needed.

The long version: Today, I meet with a five-person Committee on the Library, a body whose members are elected from departments across the three schools at Baruch (a business school, a school of arts and sciences, and a school of public affairs). To prepare for today’s meetings, I asked members to complete a three-question survey:

  1. What are the top three tasks that you come to the library website for?
  2. What other reasons or tasks bring you to the library website?
  3. What brings you to the library website more: your own research needs or your teaching needs?

At the meeting, I intend to:

  • review the overall plan for redesigning the page
  • review the results of my survey and a survey administered last fall to the faculty that focused on the value of the library
  • do a card sorting exercise where I ask them to arrange cards featuring services and resources into piles that make sense to them (from this, I hope to discern a useful way to chunk the content on the page, to find better wording for that content, and to learn if there are any things I forgot or that I can forget)

After the meeting is over, I expect to do the following this semester:

  • work with our web design team to come up with a new layout and new text for the page
  • make individual appointments with members of the Committee on the Library to have them do a traditional usability test that will likely take them to the redesigned faculty services page as well as other places on the website
  • after analyzing the results of the usability tests, I’ll work with the web design team to further refine the faculty page

I expect that the process will be completed this spring semester. As I complete steps in the plan, I’ll try to return to my blog to write up posts about how it’s been going.

Looking for an E-Resource Ticketing System

At my library, I’ve been asked recently to look into ways that we might create an e-resource ticketing system. The main goal is to have a system that makes it easy for librarians to report a problem and to check the status of efforts to fix the problem.

Here is a list of some of the key functions and features that I’ve come up with so far:

  • librarians can report a problem with an e-resource
    • a web form would be the main way to enter requests
    • email submission would be a useful though not essential additional way to report
  • librarians can browse previously reported problems to see if the one they want to report has already been reported
    • filtering and sorting options would be preferable
  • librarians can check status of previously reported problems
  • if a login system is required for the librarians submitting or browsing tickets, it should allow us to hook up with Active Directory (I don’t want anyone to have to remember any additional user name/password combos)
  • my supervisor, the head of collection management, should be able to assign tickets to me or others as needed
  • those of us handling tickets should be able to add data to an additional field if initial troubleshooting reveals that the problem is related to a different e-resource or system (for example, a report may come in that we can’t access a particular journal, but the problem may actually turn out to be one with SFX and not the database where the journal is found)
  • those of us handling tickets should be able to update the status of the tickets and to add notes about how the resolution is progressing

This system is meant to be for internal use only and wouldn’t be made visible to our public. It’s got to be web-based, as we don’t want to be messing around with installing software. I’m also hoping that we can find a solution that is free. It doesn’t have to be a really fancy or slick system. Here are some of the options I’m thinking about:

After all this fuss, I may end up going with a boring but serviceable Google Spreadsheet/web form combination, as I can get it up and running for free in about 15 minutes. What free systems or tool would you recommend? If anyone has screenshots or a public view of some part of the system they use, I’d love to check them out.

Backup Livescribe Data in Dropbox

I’ve loved my Livescribe pen since I got it a few summers ago. It’s awesome to be able to take notes in the freest possible way–with a pen and paper–and know that regardless of which notebook I am using, all my notes will be aggregated in one, searchable, digitized place (the Livescribe desktop software). Until this week, though, I only had that searchable digitized place available on one computer (my work computer).

Thanks to this blog post by Rohan Kapoor, I’ve learned how to store the Livescribe files in Dropbox and thus make them available on any computer where I’ve installed the Livescribe desktop software. The process wasn’t as simple as just moving the files from the location on my hard drive to a folder in Dropbox. Instead, I had to install a program called Junction and create virtual pointers that said to the Livescribe software, “Hey, that archive of Livescribe files isn’t really here; it’s over there in Dropbox.” Setting it up involved typing in commands in the C prompt, something that took me back to good old DOS days.

I see that Livescribe now offers a new pen that automatically transmits via wifi all your notes to your Evernote account, thereby achieving the same kind of automated cloud storage of notes that I did. If you’ve got an older pen like mine, you may want to look into the Livescribe/Dropbox set up I did.