College Library Web Site of the Month
If you are looking for ideas on promoting your library’s social media presence or ideas for incorporating eye catching colors and graphics into your web site, then you’ll definitely want to check out Wardman Library at Whittier College. The site is divided into three main sections: 1) at the top, a narrow title bar ensures no confusion as to what page you are on, accompanied by a hard to miss “ask a librarian” graphic 2) the middle portion is split between an area with a scrolling picture/search box and 4 colorful boxes listing types of information and services to explore 3) finally, the bottom portion contains social media options like Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Flickr and RSS feeds in large, colorful circles. One can’t help but want to click on these circles to see what they hold. Other items worth mentioning are the design and navigability of the 4 middle boxes. They are not only attractive but when you click on an option, a new section appears above, with a prominent “home” link in the upper right hand corner.
This month's web site comes to us from Loras College Library. What was most striking about the site was how they managed to fit into the overall design of the college's web site, while efficiently utilizing the limited space on the template allotted. The landing page of the library is quite simple but manages to contain the most important elements and links. A large tabbed search box takes up the top half of the page while the bottom portion is devote to four main categories of links, Resources, Services, About Us, and Help. They even manage to include a fairly large chat widget on the page without overcrowding it. Labeling and instructions are brief but also intuitive and sufficient. LibGuides are also put to good use as second level pages. What can't be said on the main page can be explained in ample detail when one clicks on a link, which then takes you to a multi-tabbed LibGuide. In this case less really is more. Navigation is quick and easy and as a user you have no trouble finding what you need.
Haverford College Libraries' web site contains many interesting and sleek design features that make it worthy of our web site of the month title. One of the first unique things worth pointing out is their tabbed search option. While the use of a tabbed, one-search box is not new, their choices for what to put in those tabs are a little different than most. Instead of a tab for books, journals, media, etc. they have an all-in-one search and then highlight their scholarship (digital repository search), art objects, research guides and finding aids. Another feature worth highlighting is their use of wording. For instance, to the right of the one search on the home page is another section titled, "I'm looking for" with very brief but informative options. Even beyond the search page, option and section titles are succinct, intuitive and to the point. Clicking to some of these sub pages one might also notice the use of long gray boxes which expand upon clicking. It's a great way to keep the pages clean and have the user decide how much information they want displayed. Returning back to the home page, near the top one finds options like Research, Services, Place, Technology etc. Once one navigates to one of those pages, a main search area and information appears but to the right many times a box will appear with an additional feature or layer of information. On the Research page for instance, the box highlights Scholarship @ Haverford. These boxes are well designed and catch the eye without being too distracting.
For brevity's sake we'll end the review here but it is by no means the end of the features worth highlighting. Be sure to further check out this web site when you get the chance.
Samford University Library has had a recent re-design of their library web page and, as their web page states, they are looking for feedback. We are happy to oblige. Perhaps what is most striking about the web site is the lack of text on the page, and we mean that in a good way. The page is simple and not overloaded with words. A few key words and phrases make the site visually appealing and easy to navigate. The red menu bar at the top is also nice. It not only makes the choices stand out, but when one hovers over a topic a drop down list of what can be found appears, eliminating the need for clicking and navigating away from the main page. This reviewer also likes the types of categories listed for easy access like hours, patron accounts, and even how to support the library. A job well done indeed.
The Douglas and Judith Krupp Library located at Bryant University wins this month’s honor. Beginning at the top and working down, one first sees a large “I WANT TO” section which clearly gives visitors options like searching the catalog, finding articles and journals, as well as research help. Once you click on a word bubble, the space allotted for searching changes so there is no chance of confusing which search box to use. A constant of these search options is the opportunity to ask for help in a variety of different ways. The bulldog’s face is hard to ignore!
Beneath that, one encounters a menu of options for different patron types, library services, and basic “about us” information. The setup is simple and to the point. Then, looking below that, important contact numbers are listed for access, reference, and technical services as opposed to having to click on a link to be taken to a contact page. It’s an extremely user-friendly site and takes away extra clicks and the need for extra navigation, which we’re sure users appreciate.
Lindell Library is our December pick for web site of the month. Users’ eyes are quickly drawn to the General Help Section with its topics featured in green. Putting a library orientation link (which leads to a robust LibGuide) is especially useful to have year-round and fits seamlessly into the page. Another process the library has made seamless is tutorials found under the Tutorial link at the top of the page. Users have the option to select a tutorial from the drop down menu but instead of opening in a new tab, requiring an extra click, or changing page formats, the tutorial appears on the same page with next buttons when users are ready to advance. Finally, for those interested in what to call certain services and materials, Lindell has some interesting category and naming options: Writing, Ordering, and Journal Title instead of Journal.
November’s web site of the month goes to Hege Library located at Guilford College. Similar to last month’s site, Hege keeps the layout of its library pages fairly uniform throughout making navigation easy and straightforward. Beyond the layout of the home page, the library pages keep consistent with the college’s web site design, which consists of four main hyperlinked image boxes with a larger menu of options to the right hand side of the page. The images actually look to be taken of places and collections on campus which adds a nice personalized touch. Linking from these boxes or menu options, one finds LibGuides, simple web pages or more pages of hyperlinks. Regardless of format, the information on these pages is well placed and easy to read. Finally, returning focus to the home page, the quick links feature on the bottom right is also a nice touch worth mentioning, as it makes navigation between the library's pages and the rest of the college's web site that much easier.
Oberlin College Library wins the title for web site of the month with its impressive design. Looking at the home page, the left side features a tabbed search box above blogs and featured collections. To the right, log-in information, a breakdown of resources, services, collections along with links for research help, hours, and more. Sounds pretty typical, however, when one clicks from Home to the Art Library or Science Library page, the layout of the page remains virtually the same. The resources may change, along with the blog topic or featured collections, but there is no confusion about where to find hours, log-ins, search boxes, etc. Clicking from page to page is also a fun experience as the home tab turns into a house icon, science into a beaker icon, special collections into a star, so on and so forth. Also worth noting is the Google search one can do for news and resources related to the library.
Hewes Library proves you don't have to be a master manipulator of LibGuides and coding to create an effective and navigable web site. Their web site maintains the basic LibGuides format, but creates a powerful presence. Here, well-thought out tab topics and good organization are the key to its success. The drop down menus of the tabs lend themselves well to highlighting many topics, particularly the steps in the Research Process...information which is so important but you don't normally see get prime real estate on home pages. Normally you have to click in a page or two to see all the steps. There is also something particularly striking about the Wordle used on the front page.
The Stockwell-Mudd Library, located at Albion College in Albion, Michigan, is this month’s featured web site. What immediately strikes users about this page is its organization and layout. It contains a wealth of information without being too “busy” or overwhelming. Tabs in purple and white exist at the top of the page but the real center of focus is the OneSearch box along with several purple “buttons” that link users to important resources: catalog, databases, journals and help. Below the link are three informational boxes with quick links, events and hours. The page also manages to include a help icon link, library calendar and news blog on the right side of the page in just the right scale so the information is useful and not distracting.
Exploring further into the site, the What’s New tab also has some interesting items like the Pink and Green blog from Special Collections featuring photographs from the archive as well as the We’re Reading link, which features their online book club.
High Library located at Elizabethtown College in south central Pennsylvania is our featured site this month. What immediately strikes visitors is the cool, blue, white and gray color scheme which is easy on the eyes. Also hard to miss is the scrolling highlights which factor so prominently at the top of the page. However, underneath these images is perhaps the most impressive area which contains what might be described as four verb boxes: Do Research, Ask Us, Find Services, and Learn About the Library. Users are given several options to click but choices are well organized, repeated in multiple places, and explained each step of the way. For instance, clicking “Do Research” takes one to a page which lists not only types of resources but explains what library guides are or what you can find in the library catalog. Exploring “Ask Us” not only provides options for contacting the library but also advertises their library guides which students might find useful in the meantime. Other items worth mentioning are their quick link to Facebook, laptop availability and instructions for accessing resources off campus.
Good Library located at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana has a visually simple yet effective and welcoming web site. It balances the right amount of text and images making navigation and information gathering a breeze. When linking out from the main page, one is taken to either a LibGuide or web page which also provides just the right amount of additional information.
Further helping the welcoming vibe of the site is the rotating image at the top right of students with different variations of the word “Ask.”
Finally, since summer is a time when many of our campuses also see different groups of visitors with tours, summer camps, and more it is worth noting Good’s “Community” link (under Services and Staff) as well as their “Facilities” and “Map” links (under About the Library).
Giovale Library, located at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah is May's library web site of the month. With finals rapidly approaching several features on Giovale's site show their keen awareness of important year-end tasks like exam studying, paying fines, etc. For example, the library uses a short poll widget to ask for input about the best place to study in the library. To the right of the page there are two rotating images/icons. One pairing in particular draws attention to the library's quiet study areas and food for fines drive.
Other items worth pointing out are the ease of navigation back to the college's main pages found at the top right of the page, the Google Scholar search box they incorporate into their tabbed search area, as well their layering of information. The later in particular we found especially well done. Clicking the headings at the top of the page like "Find Resources" or "Services" directs users to a landing page that briefly and effectively explains all navigation options. For those already familiar with the site, these options are listed under the same headings near the bottom of the page for quick access.
Our featured web site of April comes courtesy of Williams College Libraries located in Willamstown, MA . Like many other sites we review, it possesses a clean interface that is easily navigable. Yet, where it stands apart is in the extras, especially its tech features.
Upon entering the site, one is taken to the main page and immediately sees a tabbed search box. However these tabs offer categories not usually seen in tabbed search options. Users can choose to search the catalog or databases but they are also given the option to use tabs like: Reserves, Film/TV, Music and even an How Do I tab. Additional search options and information links are found above.
Further adding to the cool factor of this page are the links at the bottom, starting with a popular now word cloud, a link to Library Widgets to help patrons search resources, a program showing how many laptops are available and when they are due back, a list of Mobile friendly resources/cites, and finally a link to recent and archived library news. Not only are these features super neat and user friendly but the way in which they are displayed keeps the page clean and prevents one from feeling overwhelmed with directions or information.
The P.H Welshimer Memorial Library at Milligan College, located in the Northeast corner of Tennessee, is the website to explore this month. Users' entrance to the site actually begins with a impressive landing page from the main web site, in which the library offers a brief yet effective message welcoming students and letting them know what they'll find in the library as well as what they can do there.
From the landing page, users can click on a link taking them to the main library page. Here one discovers a visually clean, simple, and informative home page. Major resources are highlighted with bigger font and page position, and an unobtrusive twitter feed catches the eye without being distracting. Language and simple explanations are a huge part of why this page is successful. For instance under the resources tab, they do a great job identifying databases as a place for articles, and they also use icons to help users make the connection to what they'll find with each resource. These icons continue under the list of databases, letting searchers know which are top resources (identified by a star) and which are being searched in their MCSearch.
Hats off to the P.H Welshimer Memorial Library for having the CLS library web site of the month!
The Libraries at Colby College in Waterville, Maine is an outstanding use of LibGuides as web site. Search options and links to basic needs and services like research databases, gov. docs, and citation help are neatly presented and easily navigated. Also striking is the “face time” each librarian is given. A Brady Bunch-esq grid of smiling librarians at Colby greets each visitor. These photos show up multiple times throughout the LibGuide pages so visitors are able to connect librarian to subject area and more focused research/class guides.
Also worth noting is the site’s “tabs” devoted to Faculty and the topic of Information Literacy. Between these two tabs, faculty can find forms, policies and suggested help and resources on a variety of things like reserves, plagiarism, citation tools, and incorporating information literacy in the classroom.
Librarians realize that a library web site, in addition to enhancing access to a library's resources and services, serves in general as a major means of communication with current and future users.
As a result, the CLS Communications Committee is pleased to offer a new service/feature commencing in January 2005. The College Library Web Site of the Month features one site that the committee feels is noteworthy. While the committee recognizes the fact that there are currently many outstanding college library web sites, there are some from which librarians at other institutions can learn so that they, in turn, can enhance their own sites.
In choosing sites, we followed a number of guidelines. The pool of potential libraries consists of those schools having Carnegie classifications at the baccalaureate or master's levels with student enrollment less than 5000. The aim is to include as many college and small university libraries as possible. Second, we will make every effort to choose libraries from different regions of the country each month, with each of the fifty states, and the District of Columbia, being represented at least once.
As each web site was carefully examined, attention was given to the following factors:
1. Ease of access -- timely connection with a relatively quick load of graphics
2. Content -- useful and relevant, containing breadth and depth, and characterized by accuracy
3. Currency -- an indication of the last update of the site
4. Design -- an eye-catching and appealing overall look, effective use of graphics related to a page's theme, and consistent layout
5. Navigation -- features such as a link back to the home page, site search capability, and site layout.
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