Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Portal No More

Our website is a portal - an entryway to the world wide web where we have chosen quality websites and organized them into categories, much like taking books and putting them on the shelves in a orderly fashion.

Search engines are so good in finding information that the need for us to organize websites is being reexamined as we continue our work in website redesign.

The current thought is to normalize websites as content and try to incorporate them into places where you would normally be searching. For instance, if I were looking for information on xeriscape I would see my results in the catalog with all of the library materials available to me. Wouldn't it be gravy if I could see some great websites in the same search result? Call it "one stop shopping!" Is this something you would like to see?

The other thought running parallel is to create subject guides in relevant topics for which we purchase content, such as the databases. So if I'm a potential business owner who is seeking business plans, then a subject guide called Business Plans that leads me to books, websites, and databases would be ideal to start my search. If there are such topics that you feel could use some attention toward becoming a subject guide, then let me know.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Upcoming - another search box option

Librarians like to tell you we provide quality Content. Our buildings are more than just a pretty location with lots of good materials on the shelves for your reading, viewing or listening pleasure. We have depth and we have Content! Tons of magazine articles & newspaper articles that come from quality sources (peer reviewed even!) that sit in something called a "research database."

Then came Google......with its simple search box and easy interface. So many of you (and librarians, too!) use this search box many times in a day to find answers to questions. According to studies conducted, we are mostly happy with the results Google provides us. So where does that leave librarians who still have great Content but with no one to use them?

Well, depending on the library website you visit, some libraries have purchased a software that automatically searches for this great Content all together and presents it to you in one nifty package. Others, like Arapahoe Library District, continue to ask you to choose a database and search them individually.

You will soon see on the home page a new search option called "articles online" - please take a moment to play, to experiment and to let me know what you think of this feature! We've used one of the database vendor's search box & placed its function on the home page for convenience. When you enter your search term, it is automatically searching multiple databases (no more having to choose unless you want to!) and returning results to you. Is this easier? Better? Usable enough you would use it again? Rediscover your library!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Finding Magazine and Newspaper Articles

One of the things we will be doing more of in the future is asking you questions and gathering your input in order to make changes that are proactive.

During January we posted a survey on the website asking how you find magazine and newspaper articles, how often, and on what topics. The results were very informative! On the one hand, you search for magazine and newspaper information regularly and on topics such as current news, health and personal finance. On the other hand, it looks like you are using your local search engine as a primary starting point on your discovery trail.

The point of this survey was to ascertain your knowledge about the extensive electronic resources in which we subscribe. By clicking on 'research databases' you will find the list of products offered in various subjects. Not only will you find magazine articles from popular magazines such as Consumer Reports, but also newspaper articles (both locally and nationally). Unique items carried in databases include auto repair, practice tests for SAT, GED - to name a few - and business plans as well as information on senior housing.

One of the puzzles we are attempting to solve is how to normalize the information found in databases so that you can conduct one search to find information from the catalog as well as from the databases at the same time. We'll keep you posted on how we're doing! In the meantime, if you find websites you feel are doing a great job in providing you quality searches, feel free to let me know here!

Happy National Library Week!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Locations and Hours Renovations

Much like we renovate buildings or put new paint on the walls of our homes for a new look, the Locations & Hours pages have undergone a redesign. If you've relied on this button to get to your favorite location, it's been moved up the navigation and now appears in the #4 spot under Programs & Events. Why? This is based on hearing from you that locations & hours are one of the most sought after pieces of information!

When you click on the Locations & Hours button, the page looks more directory-like with the same information that was provided previously: address, contact information, hours. What we've added are amenity buttons which provide features specific to each branch. Need to find storytimes at Castlewood Library? The icon will find them for you! Need to know if a meeting room is available at Southglenn? Try the icon! What about programs at Kelver? You get the picture.......

Another new feature is the search the catalog box under each branch. By entering your search term, your results are limited only to that location and only to available items. We've tried to save you a few keystrokes and make the search more convenient for you. If you like the broader search of materials at all locations, the general search box at the top of the page provides that.

Lastly, when you click on the name of the library you are taken to information specific to that branch. In the near future, you will find articles and information posted about your favorite location.

Let us know what you think of these changes!