ALA launches Web site upgrade

Contact: Steve Zalusky

Manager, Communications

ALA Public Information Office



For Immediate Release

September 23, 2008

CHICAGO – Today, regular visitors to the American Library Association (ALA) Web site will discover a more user-centered site with a new look and feel. The upgrade is the result of a two-year, member-driven redesign process.

Here is what site users can expect:

  • A home page banner, with dropdown shortcuts to frequently requested areas of the site.
  • A highlights section featuring images and timely information “above the fold.”
  • A news section with a three-tab structure that guides intended audiences to information about the ALA, library related legislation and advocacy, and U.S. and world news affecting libraries. News is updated frequently, using RSS feeds.
  • Eye-catching highlights in the right column area of many pages provide “see” and “see also” references to on and off site resources.
  • A new information architecture that doesn’t require users to be familiar with internal ALA structure in order to browse successfully.

At the time of the redesign launch, ALA will implement a new Google search appliance and custom Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The SERP will include “key matches” that take known search terms and point searchers to appropriate pages. Approximately two weeks after the go-live date, search results will also integrate ranked results from Google.

As they navigate the new site, frequent visitors should understand that their old bookmarks may sometimes no longer work. Sherri Vanyek, director of ITTS recommends, “Please use the new and improved search function to find the information you are looking for. If you need further assistance, Karen Muller, ALA librarian, and her staff will be standing by to assist you.” You can send e-mail to Karen at

While this is an exciting transition, it is still only the beginning of the plans ALA has for the site. Louise Gruenberg, ALA’s new senior usability officer, said “The ALA Web site is so extensive that this is only the first phase in an ongoing process of redevelopment.”

Michael Stephens, chair of ALA's Web Advisory Committee, said "We are very excited about this launch, recognizing that it is a first step in a site that will quickly evolve. We are confident that the new senior usability officer will lead us in this endeavor to offer the best possible website to ALA's members and the field of librarianship."

Gruenberg said, “We will be targeting numerous site issues in the near future. We appreciate users’ patience as we make these major changes.”

Those issues will include bad links, the development of consistent layout standards for committee pages, navigation for browsing round tables, alt tags for images and page formatting.

Staff and member volunteers will receive coaching in applying the new
ALA Web Style Guide standards.

“Accessibility and usability are our new watchwords, and although we have a long way to go, our progress should be more and more noticeable during the course of the year," Gruenberg said. "Members are welcome to share their concerns with me as we engage in the process of creating a dynamic, engaging resource for librarians and library workers everywhere. E-mail me at”

For more information on the Web site redesign, please visit the ITTS blog at