Slide 1 Introduction

Slide 1 Introduction
For the past few years, I’ve been the project lead for the Interactive Course Assignment Pages
Project - ICAP for short. Because we’ve built a tool that gives users a menu of options for creating
course assignment pages we’ve re-named the project Library à la Carte.
Slide 2 Where we started/ Students
When we first started we were all set to build subject portals called “virtual college libraries” But
before we did, we talked to and surveyed students about how they did research. We also did a
usability test of our website to see how students searched for topical information. What we found in
that needs assessment caused us to change the direction of our project.
Slide 3 Starting points
Our usability study showed that students are looking for a starting point for their research. While
students know that libraries have quality information, they don’t always where to start on library
web sites. So, they “go with what they know” - Google- or sometimes a library tool that they used
successfully in a previous assignment, even if it’s not the best thing for their current information
need. Using JStor for everything since it worked in History
Slide 4 Self-service, but seeking direction
Students are seeking direction. In our focus groups, students were quite interested to know what
library sources their course instructors recommended as useful for their assignments. This finding
drove home the importance of faculty involvement in these pages. Another thing we took into
consideration was:
Slide 5 How do people read on the web?
How people read on the web – slight exaggeration, but we don’t. Web usability research shows
that most people don’t read "word by word" on the web. We scan pages for what Jared Spool calls
“scent.” Kind of like tracking the web for evidence of wild game--- or cute little icons.
Slide 6 Targeting our students needs
Our needs assessment and research convinced us to target students’ information needs at the
course assignment level. Students are assignment-driven and we wanted to focus on
connecting with them at their point of need – helping them with web pages of library and
information resources to help them successfully complete their assignments.
Slide 7 We wanted course assignment pages that had
 Library content plus Web 2.0
 Blocks of content that are easy to scan
 RSS feed, widgets, images, etc. for freshness
 And of course we wanted to highlight sources vetted by faculty
8 Course assignment pages have
Design that helps users scan…
Both librarian and instructor contact information are present.
Integration of some web 2.0 elements – the tag cloud is a much more glance-able way of
displaying web links related to this course assignment.
Slide 9 ICAP page example
What students are looking for on library web pages is “actionable content”
 Our federated search tool ispre- set to search a few good databases for this assignment.
 Students get instant help in mediums they like to use- the chat box has been enormously
popular with the students
 The Facebook badge provides visual interest and another contact point.
Slide 10 What kind of tool?
We librarians have varied web skills, so we wanted to have a publishing tool that would help us,
easily create and maintain pages, add some Web 2.0 elements, and give us some consistency. We
weren’t sure how we were going to do it, until we hired our programmer, Kim Griggs. She built
Library à la Carte with these features: .
Slide 11 Tool Features
Easy to use interface
Modules that help librarians add & reuse content
Content separate from how it’s displayed on web pages – webmaster can completely customize
how the pages look pages with CSS.
Drag and drop to arrange content
Slide 12 Work anywhere
It’s easy to work on these pages where ever you have an internet connection, You just log into
your account and start creating or editing pages. You don’t have to go into Dreamweaver to access
your pages. Edits to pages can happen quite quickly and new content is added in blocks or
Slide 13 adding modules,
As you may be able to see - the interface is simple to use, there is a wsiwyg or What you see is
what you get text editor. In some modules you can add code snippets for the widgets, in other
types you can add text, easily embedding links, and adding more content in a smaller pop-up box.
Slide 14 Drag and drop
Here’s the drag and drop in action…
Page creators like having some control over how the final page will appear – they can choose one
or two column formats, they can drag modules around to make the columns more even
Slide 15 Good web writing
This page design encourages good practice in web writing - short, snappy and descriptive headers.
Headers should have important words within the first four words, and should use active language
more often than passive language
Slide 16 Assessment
Our initial assessments of the tool and pages have been encouraging and positive. We solicited
feedback from students, faculty and librarians through a mix of in-class surveys, e-mails,
meetings, trainings and online forums. We also gathered page views from our web statistics
Slide 17 Student
Students say things like “it’s very nice to have one source to begin to find the information I needed
to complete my assignment” or “I would not have been able to find all of these resources if they
had not been sorted and placed in one convenient website.” They also recommend the pages to
their other instructors
Slide 18 Faculty Instructor
“Just wanted to let you know that when I asked my students what made their projects easier this
term, many of them mentioned the ICA website...
I hope that she (the librarian) can help us out in the future as well Thanks for having such a great
The improved course pages give librarians something to showcase with faculty, who have
responded enthusiastically, and
Slide 19 Librarian
Librarians at Oregon State University have widely adopted the Library a la Carte tool. Over 150
pages have been created in the first three terms of using the tool. Librarians are using the pages
as part of a library instruction session, as a reinforcement of a library session, or as a stand-alone
replacement for library instruction. One librarian said “ I’d like to say that I miss writing HTML but I don’t!”
Slide 20 Open source software
This is open source software, built with Ruby on Rails and running on a UNIX server with Apache
and MySQL. Kim Griggs is just about to move to a new release which enables librarians to build
subject web pages with the tool, as well as course pages. You are welcome to contact her for a
demo account, or to download the software.