Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Brainstorming for new science portal

We need to start brainstorming for ideas and features that we want on the new science portal so we'll be prepared for when we locate a web designer.

Here are a list of some other science library websites. Not all are great but I'd like for us to discuss what elements we like and which features we don't like (just as important). Please feel free to post links to other libraries you think are worthy of critique. Also, if there are general guidelines and features that you'd like to include please post about those too.

My first impression looking at these sites is how busy they all are. Lots of links and it seems overwhelming at first glance. Its a decision that we'll have to make about how much information should be quickly accessible on the main page but yet still easily usable. Caltech's library page is the most easily navigated, IMO. I like the quick drop down boxes and the selection of links. I especially like the menu for authors - as the issue of open access and author rights becomes more important on campus, we'll need to take an active role in helping the faculty understand their rights and options for publishing.

Berkeley: Chemistry: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/CHEM/
Engineering: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/ENGI/
Physics/Ay: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/PHYS/

Caltech: http://library.caltech.edu/

Chicago : http://www1.lib.uchicago.edu/e/crerar/index.php3

Irvine: http://www.lib.uci.edu/libraries/science.html

Michigan: http://www.lib.umich.edu/science/

MIT Science Library: http://libraries.mit.edu/science/

Oregon Science Library: http://libweb.uoregon.edu/scilib/

Santa Cruz: http://libweb.uoregon.edu/scilib/


Joe Baca said...

Here are a few additional examples that are a little different than what has been posted:

Life Science Library @ University of Texas Austin:

McKinney Engineering Library @ University of Texas Austin:

Grainger Engineering Library @ University of Illinois:

Sara said...

Laurie Taylor sent along this library link as one that she thought we should consider:

Laurie B said...

Looked at all. Several things stand out. IMO - primary purpose of portal is to serve patron needs. So, avoid using homepage to sell MSL with large photos/wordy descriptions. An About Us link would suffice. Distracting features in many of these sites: too much horizontal text in sentences or in listed items, little or no space between each item in a list (harder to distinguish each), non-bulleted lists where bullets could better draw the eye, lots of font or paragraph formats, boxes, or forms - making page busy and hard to quick scan/distinguish items, a Quick links column (all links are quick and if these items are so important these links could be organized under the other main headings!) Caltech lib homepage was for me most easy/clear to find items: concise (brevity in text and headers), spacious but no wasted space, relatively uniform fonts/design features so the eye flows quickly through and easily distinguishes items. The prominent menu bar at top provides lots of room for links to other, and it emulates design of uflib.ufl.edu. Features I liked in several pages: Services column, the mouse-over very brief description of certain
items, the New Books pictures/links (though these could go on a secondary page if you need the top level for other features).

Valrie Davis said...

I would agree that the Caltech page is the easiest to read, due to limited links and concise language ("find X")

I also like the Columbia page that Laurie Taylor sent. The image changes with every visit (which is nice), the colors increase readability, and it has limited links.

The Grainger library almost does it right, but there is something lacking in execution.

Carrie said...

I agree with Laurie that the primary purpose of the portal is to serve patron needs. Based on the usability testing I've conducted with faculty/grad students they want direct links to the databases they use often. A few of the library sites posted did this and I really liked it. Also, the Cornell life science library does an excellent job of this.

It would be the perfect setup if they added "research guide" & "course guides" to the database links under each subject. Add a link to the catalog and you'd have basically everything people usually use :)

Some features I liked from the other sites:
-A new books list
-Guides to: dissertations, managing citations, keeping current
-the "How do I..."/FAQ features.
-Subjects are listed on the main page
-I also liked the Berkeley engineering library's categories. They basically had "Find by material type", "Find by Subject", Help & Services
-Hours displayed directly on the main page
-My account as a feature
-When the web sites noted that a link links to a .pdf file
-The SFX full-text finder. Michigan branded this as "Already have a citation".

Following are some additional considerations:
-Do we want to get away from using Metalib? Denise mentioned this and I think it is definitely something we should think about. I'd be all for developing our own lists of databases, etc. The only question is if it would be difficult to maintain such a list.

-Should we do the same with course reserves? That is, put the course reserves into a list where you don't have to login to see what textbooks are on reserve for a class.

-Many comments from usability tests & libqual have indicated that people don't know they can request books for purchase. This would be a good thing to highlight on the main page.

Denise Bennett said...

Purdue just renovated their website this semester -- see
Hard to tell if the individual libraries have revised or not quite yet, since they don't all look the same!
Life Sciences

Amy said...

Aesthetically, I really like the link that Laurie Taylor sent. I think that it could be adapted to for our use fairly well.

I also like the way the Cornell Library has broader subject areas that you can click on and find narrower subjects.

Valrie Davis said...

After this morning's discussion, and looking at a few of the university sites together as a group, I think I agree that Cornell Mann Library page has some nice features:

1. Subject assistance is front and center.
2. Databases are easily accessible and brought forward
3. Hours for that day are posted, and a link for additional hours underneath
4. I roughly like the categories listed on the left side of the page (the location could be debated), especially that faculty services are integrated into each area. For example, "instruction" takes the user to workshops, tutorials, and how to request instructions if you are faculty.

I think it might be a very important step for us to go through a more in-depth exercise of what we consider to be the most important links for the homepage. If we all bring relevant links to the discussion, we can group them by category and come up with a structure. Then the design could be hashed out based on the structure.

Leila said...

I need graphics for the site. If you have any, please contact Joe or Sara in order to upload pictures to the new msl picasa account.

I also need to know the top five databases for each subject heading: Ag, Biological Sciences, Engineering, Math/Stats, and Physical/Chemical Sciences. For the mockup, the databases will be linked from the home page underneath each subject.

Finally, here is the most recent mockup for those of you that would like to view it. I will continue to post mockups in my space - http://lnadams.org. Click "work" then "marston science lib" and you will find the most recent updates.

Leila said...

Hello All-

I posted new web pages today. Check them out and let me know what you think at this Tuesday's meeting.


Leila said...

New updates have been posted to the msl site. To see them, click here.


Leila said...

Hello All -

I changed my web site around so if you want to view the updates, you'll need to go to a different address:

Leila said...

New site updates - http://lnadams.org/portfolio/update.html

Leila said...

Weekly updates to the new msl site are now up - http://lnadams.org/marston/index_062408.html

Leila said...

It's alive! It's alive!

New MSL site is now live on the library server - check it out www.uflib.ufl.edu/msl/