Saturday, May 14, 2005

Notes from: Enabling Researchers in the 21st Century through Library Portals

Presentation by Dr. Brian Detlor

Overview:
- Increasing competition from search engines 
  and content providers.
- Solution: A "Robust Library Portal".
- Strong need to integrate library resources 
  in any sort of portal offered by a 
  university.
- Private sector has adopted information 
  portals much earlier than libraries.
- Mentions several government portals 
  including www.youthpath.ca, which was 
  developed using participatory design 
  techniques.  Asks why librarians are 
  designing websites when we should really ask 
  the user tell us what they want to see.
- Mentions a portal that uses a task-based 
  approach rather than a subject based 
  approach.  Asks why don't we do this with 
  library web sites.  Asks why the divisions 
  of library web pages bother to mirror the 
  physical divisions of a library.
- Working on a paper about the assessment of 
  ARL websites.
 
What is a portal?
- "Applications that enable companies to 
  unlock internally and externally stored 
  information..." (Shilakes & Tylman, 1998).
- A launch pad or gateway to various 
  information content and services.
 
Some possible enterprise portal features:
- Enterprise search.
- Directory browsing.
- Real-time information.
- Automated content classification.
- Personalization.
 
Purpose of a portal.
- To integrate a fractured array of 
  information in a common interface.
 
An 'ideal' portal has these three pieces:
- Content space.
 - Access to data and documents.
- Communication space.
 - Users interact with each other.
- Coordination space.
 - ?
 
Library portals.
- Definition from Dempsy (2003).
 
What kind of functions can a library portal 
offer?
- Search several databases from one place.
- E-reference services.
- Broadcast search tools (?).
- Personalization features.
- Enriched content (biographies, review, 
  etc.).
- Virtual communities.
 - Communicate with other users of a 
   work or class of works.
 
- Subject gateways and digital libraries are 
  usually focused on the access to content 
  rather then the use of the portals.
- His vision of a library portal adds 
  collaboration (and other features) to the 
  mix.
 
Study of ARL library portals:
- 107 member websites evaluated.
- Explanation of evaluation metrics (citations 
  and some description on PowerPoint slides).
- Generally speaking, most libraries have:
 - Login or registration.
 - Online catalogues.
 - Journals as part of catalogue.
 - Separate access to:
  - e-resources.
  - e-journals.
  - e-databases.
- And...
 - About 75% offered virtual reference, 
   but it was often ambiguously 
   advertised.
 - About 75% offered reserve/request 
   feature for checked-out books.
 - About 50% had an A-Z site index.
 - About 46% had improved error 
   messages.
 - About 5% automatically presented ILL 
   option if book is not available.
 - About 30% did not have search box on 
   the home page.
  
- Columbia and the University of Austin 
  actually have a search box to search Google 
  Scholar (surprised they would do this).
 
Only two universities offered federated 
searching:
- University of Pittsburgh
  http://www.library.pitt.edu/
- University of Oklahoma 
  http://libraries.ou.edu/
  
Library portals that they especially liked:
- University of California San Diego 
  http://libraries.ucsd.edu/
- University of Iowa  
  http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/
- University of Oklahoma  
  http://libraries.ou.edu/
 
- Comment from audience:  Some of these 
  services such as federated searching may not 
  work well enough at this point to recommend  
  them to libraries.
 
Other problems.
- Naming problems (i.e. RACER instead of 
  interlibrary loan).
- Library lingo prevails.  Isn't an online 
  catalogue a database too?
- Why not hide the tools?
- Lack of innovative designs and 
  personalization options.
 
So how should academic library portals evolve?
- Competitors (i.e. Google Scholar) should be 
  catalysts for our own improvement.
 
6 potential areas of improvement.
- Information access.
 - "Think about what students, 
   teachers, and researchers actually 
   do with library resources and build 
   the library around those tasks".
 - "Facilitate access from mobile 
   devices".
 - Store all information in one place.  
   User's don't care if outside links 
   are included in the catalogue.
- Information seeking.
 - Automated indexing, especially now 
   that so many resources are offered 
   electronically.
 - Query term expansion.
 - Federated searching.
 - Information visualization.
 - Intelligent agents.
 - Consider opening up catalogues to 
   search engine bots.
- Personalization.
 - Content.
 - Look and feel.
 - Links to resources of a specified 
   type.
- Interface design.
 - Attractive.
 - Avoid jargon.
 - Hide complex tools.
 - Printer-friendly pages.
 - etc.
- Information use.
 - Provide means for users to work with 
   the information they find (i.e.  
   bibliographic management tools).
 - Provide common software tools for 
   library patrons to manipulate the 
   information found.
 - Online ILL.
- Communication.
 - Virtual reference.
 - Information pushed to users of 
   certain profiles.
 - Allow patrons to talk to other 
   patrons.
 - Allow patrons to provide 
   feedback/reviews on library 
   resources.
 - Allow library patrons to annotate 
   text.
 
Assuming these changes are put in to place, 
what will the impact of these portals be on 
academic libraries?
- Librarians will have to think more about how 
  and why patrons use information.  Consider 
  letting users design the web site 
  themselves.  Librarian-designed sites are 
  currently 'birds of a feather'.
- Must be some cooperation between libraries.
 - Why should libraries compete with 
   each other when Google is the major 
   competitor?
- Must be some standardization in the 
  underlying structure so portals can be 
  integrated?
- Open source allows you to modify the 
  software to do what you want it to do and 
  look how you want it to look.
 - Cheaper.
 - Better code.
 - Better support.
 - There have been great successes with 
   open source university portals.
- How do you get people to adopt the library 
  portal as a first stop?
 - Tam's adoption model (see PowerPoint 
   slide).
 - Tam2: Social and cognitive factors 
   that favour adoption (see PowerPoint 
   slide).
 
Closing thoughts.
- Historically there has been so much focus on 
  collections and access to collections.  We 
  should do more in terms of services, and 
  design those services based on the tasks 
  that our patrons perform.
--Notes by Charles Dunham

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