Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL) Volume 25, Number 3 September 2006

President's Column



A Confession, a Speculation, and a Farewell

JOHN WEBB, (115) [PDF]

Featured Articles

Strong Copyright + DRM + Weak Net Neutrality = Digital Dystopia?

CHARLES W. BAILEY JR., (116-127,139) [PDF]

Three critical issues—a dramatic expansion of the scope, duration, and punitive nature of copyright laws; the ability of Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems to lock-down digital content in an unprecedented fashion; and the erosion of Net neutrality, which ensures that all Internet traffic is treated equally—are examined in detail and their potential impact on libraries is assessed. How legislatures, the courts, and the commercial marketplace treat these issues will strongly influence the future of digital information for good or ill.

Toward a Twenty-First-Century Library Catalog


Library catalogs have represented stagnant technology for close to twenty years. Moving toward a next-generation catalog, North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries purchased Endeca’s Information Access Platform to give its users relevance-ranked keyword search results and to leverage the rich metadata trapped in the MARC record to enhance collection browsing. This paper discusses the new functionality that has been enabled, the implementation process and system architecture, assessment of the new catalog’s performance, and future directions.

Usability Testing of a Large, Multidisciplinary Library Database: Basic Search and Visual Search


Visual search interfaces have been shown by researchers to assist users with information search and retrieval. Recently, several major library vendors have added visual search interfaces or functions to their products. For public service librarians, perhaps the most critical area of interest is the extent to which visual search interfaces and text-based search interfaces support research. This study presents the results of eight full-scale usability tests of both the EBSCOhost Basic Search and Visual Search in the context of a large liberal arts university.

OpenSearch and SRU: A Continuum of Searching

RALPH LEVAN, (151-153) [PDF]

Not all library content can be exposed as HTML pages for harvesting by search engines such as Google and Yahoo!. If a library instead exposes its content through a local search interface, that content can then be found by users of metasearch engines such as A9 and Vivísimo. The functionality provided by the local search engine will affect the functionality of the metasearch engine and the findability of the library’s content. This paper describes that situation and some emerging standards in the metasearch arena that choose different balance points between functionality and ease of implementation.

Bibliographic Displays in Web Catalogs: Does Conformity to Design Guidelines Correlate with User Performance?


The present study investigated whether there is a correlation between user performance and compliance with screen-design guidelines found in the literature. Rather than test individual guidelines and their interactions, the authors took a more holistic approach and tested a compilation of guidelines. Nine bibliographic display formats were scored using a checklist of eighty-six guidelines. Twenty-seven participants completed ninety search tasks using the displays in a simulated Web environment. None of the correlations indicated that user performance was statistically significantly faster with greater conformity to guidelines. In some cases, user performance was actually significantly slower with greater conformity to guidelines. In a supplementary study, a different set of forty-three guidelines and the user performance data from the main study were used. Again, none of the correlations indicated that user performance was statistically significantly faster with greater conformity to guidelines.

User-Centered Design of a Web Site for Library and Information Science Students: Heuristic Evaluation and Usability Testing


This study describes the life cycle of a library Web site created with a user-centered design process to serve a graduate school of library and information science (LIS). Findings based on a heuristic evaluation and usability study were applied in an iterative redesign of the site to better serve the needs of this special academic library population. Recommendations for design of Web-based services for library patrons from LIS programs are discussed, as well as implications for Web sites for special libraries within larger academic library settings.


Content Management for the Virtual Library

ED SALAZAR, (170-175) [PDF]

Traditional, larger libraries can rely on their physical collection, coffee shops, and study rooms as ways to entice patrons into their library. Yet virtual libraries merely have their online presence to attract students to resources. This can only be achieved by providing a fully functional site that is well designed and organized, allowing patrons to navigate and locate information easily. One such technology significantly improving the overall usefulness of Web sites is a content management system (CMS). Although the CMS is not a novel technology per se, it is a technology smaller libraries cannot afford to ignore. In the fall of 2004, the Northcentral University Electronic Learning Resources Center (ELRC), a small, virtual library, moved from a static to a database-driven Web site. This article explains the importance of a CMS for the virtual or smaller library and describes the methodology used by ELRC to complete the project.

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