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About this Blog

Posted in About this Blog on May 4th, 2007

Welcome to the HCL 2.0 blog.  It was inspired by two recent conferences that members of the Communications and ITS teams attended—NEASIST Designing Usable Interfaces and Computers in Libraries 2007 Beyond Library 2.0: Building Communities, Connections, and Strategies

Our goal is to share what we learned and contribute to the growing dialog among HCL staff about ways to implement Web 2.0 technologies and philosophy to enhance the Library’s virtual presence. 

This blog is presented in a slightly unconventional way, in that under each category you will find our notes and then a series of questions they raised for us.  Feel free to answer the questions or raise other issues.  We look forward to your comments.

HCL Communications                              HCL ITS
Beth Brainard                                           Al Burns
Enrique Diaz                                             Karen Moore
Jen Tomase

Big Themes

Posted in Big Themes on May 4th, 2007


  • Web 2.0 offers content in a state of perpetual beta – DON’T obsess over web site being perfect
  • Web sites should evolve, be nimble, be open
  • OLD web sites are like malls, where we try to keep users inside; NEW 2.0 sites are like city parks that allow users in and out easily
  • People are not using their computers to hunt for information, they are using online tools to bring information to their computers – Computers are the Internet
  • Social functionality is expected
  • User testing is invaluable
  • If a web site needs to employ “user education” before it can be navigated, then it doesn’t work
  • Assume that Millennials begin their research on non-library, aka Google, site; can’t expect to “lead” users to resources
  • Library OPACS are broken in 3 ways: usability, findability, remixability
  • Access to library services/resourced should be ready at the users point of need
  • Staff education is an important part of building dynamic online resources
  • Resistance is futile – the web is unlocked


Are there other big themes we should be aware of as we map out HCL’s virtual presence?

What are the big themes for instructional services in realtion to online resources?

User Behavior and Expectations

Posted in User Behavior and Expectations on May 4th, 2007


We are serving a new generation of students, the Millennials, who were born 1981-2000 and who have a different set of behaviors and expections around web sites than our past library patrons.


  • Frenetic multitasking
  • Highly interactive
  • Highly social
  • Confident with a variety of media; have established conventions for navigating web, and Reluctant to ask for help
  • Scan don’t read web pages
  • Begin their research on non-library, aka Google, site; can’t expect to “lead” them to resources
  • Expectations of web sites:

    • Expect content to be digital and immediate
    • Expect discovery to be Google-like, high expectations set by previous web experienceExpect access anytime anywhere
    • Impatient with “clunky” library sites

    Expectations of social functionality:

    • Commenting
    • Rating and reviewing (voicing opinion)
    • Send to a friend
    • Share applications (like a calendar)
    • Subscribe on the spot
    • Save for later using own social bookmarking system
    • Blog or comment area to know what other people are saying
    • Sharing discoveries
    • Creating mashups
    • Alternate navigation – tag clouds, top links list, zeitgeist, relationship maps, mashups


What types of outreach do we need to establish/revise to reach the Millennials?

What types of online resources can HCL provide to best serve this library user?

How can we coordinate the production of online resources so that libraries are not duplicating services and so that all needed resources are being created?

Usability Testing

Posted in Usability Testing on May 4th, 2007



Are there other studies we might review?

Would you be interested in working on a task force to establish an ethnographic study for HCL?

How might we encourage ULC/OIS to conduct usability studies of the Harvard Libraries site with student users?


Posted in Design on May 4th, 2007


Web page design is evolving as users change the way they approach information online.

  • If the site needs to employ “user education” before it can be navigated, then it doesn’t work
  • Design of site should support work model of user
  • Sites use should be self evident
  • Users should immediately know what it is about, why it is there, how to use it
  • Visual clutter forces people to think too hard
  • Create “sticky” content that keeps users on site until they find what they need

SEE presentation Infomation Design for the New Web by Ellyssa Kroski –

Main points of talkUsers:

  • People are changing the way they consume info
  • Homepage should me less cluttered, more like flickr, Google
  • Choice overload frustrates people
  • Web applications: necessary features only, less is more
  • NO software, manuals, registration = Do it yourself model

Graphic design:

  • everything is beta
  • style should respond to changes; clean, simple
  • eliminate unnecessary elements
  • centered design
  • rounded edges
  • san serif and lower case fonts to be comfortable, casual
  • large font to point out main purposes
  • strong colors, not monochromatic
  • simple icons
  • white space
  • simple icons


  • obvious
  • set apart
  • persistent

User interface:

  • AJAX
  • Large tabs
  • Drag and drop functionality
  • Auto complete functionality
  • Mapping
  • Previews (SNAP technique)


How can the HCL home page be designed to accommodate two audiences (students, staff/faculty) with different bu sometimes overlapping information needs?

How can the HCL site be further refined to serve research and instruction needs?

Could you be comfortable with an HCL site that is in perpetual beta?

What is the best way to involve stakeholders in the ongoing development of the HCL web site? In the develoment of online resources, like research guides?

Search Analytics

Posted in Search Analytics on May 4th, 2007


  • Web design should involve ongoing conversations with your customers
  • Search is an experience, just like navigating
  • Studies show half of all people go first to search box
  • Google has trained users to trust search box; to use short word search
  • Most users don’t start on home page; we DON’T control how they access our info
  • DON’T obsess over web site being perfect
  • Can’t construct every search, but can control how the most sought after info is discovered/delivered to customers
  • Devote resources to hand constructing most important searches using a database
  • See Duke University home page – – for an example. The blue navigation bar in the bottom half of the page contains the items that reserach showed are heaviest searched pages. A custom database was designed to manage those particular searches to ensure users can find what they want.


Do you have suggestions for revising the Search box on the HCL home page?

Is there a value in putting research guides into a database so that they could be searched in a variety of ways?

Social Bookmarking

Posted in Social Bookmarking on May 4th, 2007

  • Offer discovery – great at onset of research
  • Non-binary and all terms listed together
  • Democratic
  • Self moderating
  • Follow desire lines
  • Offer insights
  • Engender community
  • Low-cost alternative to traditional taxonomy
  • Only requires small learning curve


  • No synonym control
  • Lack precision
  • Lack hierarchy
  • Lack recall susceptible to gaming (spamming)


  • Address limitations with tag clusters, tag bundles, faceted tags, deep tagging in video

SEE PennTags Project – bookmarking initiative that allows Penn library users to bookmark catalog records, add tags, share with others


Is social bookmarking a fad or a trend?

On what online resources would the incorporation of social bookmarking be beneficial?

Should social bookmarking be incorporated into perpetual resources like HOLLIS?

How are comments maintained over time? Are they perpetual, weeded out occasionally, all removed on some timetable? Whose responsibility should it be to perform maintenance?

What impact will social functionality have on public terminals?

Innovative Tools for Instruction

Posted in Innovative Tools on May 4th, 2007


  • Reference services are transforming from linear to nonlinear
  • Library resources are available 24/7 library, so services should be available at point of need
  • Value in providing continuity of service and in offering a consistent view of resources
  • Libraries should break away from reliance on web home page because users are at Google
  • Should already be at point of service when needed

Customized Library Toolbar

  • Purdue University Management & Economics Library created MyMel Toolbar to serve users
  • SEE
  • Downloadable from library home page
  • Installed on all library workstations
    Can be accessed from wherever
  • Tremendous positive response from users with very little marketing
  • Contains links t resources, tools, relevant RSS feeds:
      • Google search
      • Purdue catalog
      • Metalib
      • SFX e journal finder
      • World Cat
      • Local departments/school
      • Course web sites
      • Dictionary
      • Citation Linker
      • Document Delivery
      • Online writing lab

Screencasting: Creating Online Tutorials in 30 Minutes

  • Online tutorials notoriously time consuming
  • Using screencasting, a tutorial can be created in approximately 30 minutes
  • Screencasting involves capturing screen shots, inserting markers or text, and recording commentary
  • Requires screen capture and voice recording software such as Camtasia (
  • SEE presentation Libcasting: Screencasting and Libraries at
  • ALSO, Beth and Enrique have a great handout with instructions and resources for creating screencasts. We’re happy to share.


Are there other new tools of interest?

Are you currently using Camtasia to create tutorials, and if so, what are its strong points/drawbacks? Have you tried Wink?

Should there be some organized effort to help keep staff up-to-date on new tools and services? To test new products?

How might we measure the effectiveness of new tools on our students? How could results be reported back to the larger HCL instructional community in order to inform further development?

Trends in Mobile Tools

Posted in Trends in Mobile Tools on May 4th, 2007


Megan Fox, Web and Electronic Resources Librarian at Simmons College, presented. Slides of her CIL talk and a good deal of other useful information at
Megan’s talk seemed to contradict what we learned from Harvard students at recent focus groups, who said they do not go online on their mobile devices to obtain library info because 1) the cost and 2) they take their laptops everywhere and use them via wireless to access info on the web. More details on focus groups to follow.


Do you use your PDA to find information online?

Is there information on the HCL site that you would like to access from your mobile device?


Posted in Mashups on May 4th, 2007


  • A mashup mixes content from independent sources to create something new
  • frappr – – is an example , incorporates (mashes up) Yahoo, Amazon, Google Maps, Technorati, EVDB (an events planner)
  • Mashup is do-it-yourself programming
  • A user can read, write, and program with open data and an open set of services
  • No approval is needed
  • Google Gadgets makes it easy to add a variety of dynamic elements to any web page

Technical issues raised by mashups:

  • Sustainability
  • Intellectual property issues
  • Provenance
  • Persistent APIs


On what types of resources might mashups be effective/useful?