March 2007 Site of the Month Quest/

Authors: Fran Nowakowski, Tina Usmiani, and Heather Ludlow
Institution: Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Interviewer: Leslie Goldstein

Description: The Killam Quest is a virtual sightseeing tour of the Killam Library at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Colorful signs guide visitors through recommended and specific library tour routes. Tourists may also choose to visit specific library locations, floors, and services. The detailed library floor plans identify library services and collections --locations of laptop electrical outlets. The floorplans are linked to photographs and icons for services, hours, and other helpful information for visitors. Also included is a tour of the library website showing Novanet, the online catalog, virtual reference, subject guides, and Prowler, a one-stop article finder.

Q. What was the motivation to create Killam Quest?

A. Our library tours were so popular that we wanted to offer the same service online to meet current student expectations. We also wanted to address comments made in the 2005 LibQual survey about the confusing library layout.

Q. How long did the development process take? Who was involved?

A. The planning and creation of the project covered a six month period. The Information Literacy Coordinator and Library Communications Officer conceived the project in January and submitted a grant proposal to hire a student. Most of the work was done during the summer. The student did most of the design work while library staff contributed content and consultation as it developed.

Q. How did you develop the driving theme for the tutorial?

A. We originally wanted to present the tour as a game using current culture such as a TV show like Survivor. This failed to develop due to the lack of time but the theme came from the Amazing Race TV show. This worked quite nicely with our desire to provide different routes to the same content.

Q. Who designed the graphics?

A. The graphics were developed by our intern, Heather Ludlow.

Q. What are the technologies used to create Killam Quest and why were those technologies chosen over others?

A. Lectora authoring software was chosen as the primary development tool, since the University has a site license and the Coordinator and student both had experience with it. Photoshop was used for the graphic elements as it is a powerful tool and we all owned it. Flash was considered but Lectora does much of what it can do and more. I had begun to explore tutorial authoring software almost 5 years ago. Our library school had a multimedia course that I took and it used Authorware as the main course tool. Over the next couple of years, I developed a series of 12 tutorials. T hen a couple of years ago, I reviewed the usefulness of Authorware and switched to Lectora since it did not require any plugins to access the modules and we could get a site license. I was able to learn it quite quickly since it was very similar to Authorware.

Q. What were some of the challenges (technological and/or other) for developing Killam Quest?

A. It was challenging learning how to get the most out of Lectora. In addition, we wanted to provide multiple access points and navigation options and this proved to be a complex process. Since the student was working part-time and off-campus, we found it difficult to maintain regular contact and communicate the rationale and parameters of the project.

Q. How has this tutorial contributed to or influenced the instructional services at your library?

A. It is an enhancement to the Information Literacy program and Reference service. The virtual tour definitely provides an alternative option to students who need to learn about where to find things in the library. Before, we could only refer students to the Reference Desk or the tours in the fall. Now, they have access to a tour 24/7.

Q. How is the Quest currently used? Is there a particular assignment, requirement tied in with the tour? Is it used for freshman orientation? How are faculty and students learning about the tour?

A. It is used for Freshman Orientation and promoted during regular library tours and at the Reference Desk. It is an element in a broader "We Hear You" PR campaign which highlights actions taken in response to comments in our 2005 LibQual survey. Librarians also mention it as a resource during IL classes. It is a featured resource on the library's website and the University portal.

Q. How has the Quest been received by students and faculty?

A. We have had positive anecdotal responses but as yet have not
established an effective assessment tool.

Q. What are your future plans for the Quest?

A. We plan to add further interactivity including quizzes, pop-up information boxes, an audio component and possibly panoramic images of certain areas. We also want to add some sort of ongoing assessment tool and conduct a usability study.