Services & Policies - Spring 2011

The New Library Website: Collaboration in Action

As our readers are aware, at the beginning of the fall 2010 semester the Weinberg Memorial Library launched a new website. It has been well received by the University community, and is always being improved as we receive new feedback and suggestions from our users. The process involved in the launch of this new website is a story worth telling because it illustrates the collaborative nature of every initiative we undertake here in the library.
The process began in the middle of the spring 2010 semester, when Dean Charles Kratz decided that it was important for the library's web presence to be consistent with the rest of the University's, and that there were improvements to be made in how our website assists us in serving the University community. The University has adopted a new Content Management System (CMS), Hannon-Hill's Cascade Server, and has been moving the University's department web pages over to the new CMS on an ongoing basis since fall 2008. Dean Kratz felt the timing was right for the library to initiate this big transition in our web presence, and shared his wish with the library staff, along with his hope that one of the librarians would coordinate the project. Public Services Librarian Donna Mazziotti volunteered to coordinate the CMS migration, with the assistance of Vince Yanusauskas, the library's resident expert and trainer in the CMS. A major collaborative effort was about to begin.
It was clear early on that the project would involve many stakeholders in the decision-making and implementation phases. Librarians, library administrators and library systems staff would need to collectively evaluate our "old" website and make decisions as to which parts of the website to retain as-is, which to update and improve, and which to cut. Furthermore, the University's Office of Public Relations (PR) would need to be involved early on, as its staff is coordinating the University-wide transition to the new CMS; in particular, the PR Office's Web Designer/Developer Sarah Johnson would prove to be invaluable to the library's CMS migration, due to her programming expertise within the CMS itself. The Center for Teaching & Learning Excellence (CTLE) offered to the library the experience and skill of its staff, as the CTLE had undergone this same transition earlier that year; this included the programming help of their technology consultants (tech cons), student workers who had done the bulk of the physical migration work for the CTLE's new website. Finally, when it came time to publish the new web pages and make them "live," the IT Development & Applications department within the Division of Planning & Information Resources (PIR) played a key role in scheduling the roll out of the new library website in time for the first day of fall 2010 classes.
One of the challenging aspects of the library's CMS migration was the fact that the library's website is a research tool by which we provide our core services, as opposed to a purely informational communication tool. Although there are parts of our website we do use to communicate with our users - our About the Library pages containing our policies, mission and hours being a good example of this use - the most important function of our website is as a portal to all of our online resources, such as our databases and library catalog, our Ask a Librarian virtual reference services, and our online digital collections. It was important in the new library website that these services and tools be featured, easy-to-find, logically organized and intuitive for users. The challenge came in the fact that the new CMS required that we adapt to a limited set of specifications for how our tools and services would be displayed. However, through the collective expertise of all involved, we were able to achieve our goal of usability and functionality with the new library website.
The library's migration to the new CMS would not have been possible without the help of the following people: Dean Charles Kratz; the library's in-house CMS Team, made up of Vince Yanusauskas, Bonnie Strohl, Jennifer Maher, Mary Kovalcin, Bonnie Oldham, Kristen Yarmey and George Aulisio; Sarah Johnson and Valarie Clark in the PR Office; the CTLE's Eugeniu Grigorescu, Aileen McHale and tech cons Derek Gelormini, Sean Grieb and John Hogan; Connie Wisdo and Larry Hickernell in the PIR Division; and the entire library staff who revised their web page content and provided feedback throughout the process. In addition, we invite all of our library website users to provide feedback and suggestions by e-mailing, and we thank you in advance for your participation in continually improving our new website. One look at this list of talented and diverse individuals - without whom the library's migration to the new CMS would not have been a success - provides a picture of what collaboration looks like in the Weinberg Memorial Library.
Donna Mazziotti