The Stanford University Libraries’ website, which gets about 10,000 visits a day, hasn’t had a major overhaul in a decade. “In web years, that’s 200,” said CHRIS BOURG, assistant university librarian for public services.
Now the libraries’ Internet presence has been revamped to match the times: A brand-new website went “live” on Aug. 28 – with a lot of input from faculty, students, staff, researchers and a range of other users.
“The new site was built with their voices in our heads,” said STU SNYDMAN, who coordinated the redesign as manager of digital production & web application development.
For the past 18 months, the libraries have been offering lottery tickets and Coupa Café coupons to encourage participation for in-depth interviews, postcard wish-lists and rapid-fire user testing. The new website is the result.
An integrated search function makes looking for resources in the collections or in the library far more straightforward. The homepage highlights a chat link for contacting librarians – not a new feature, but one previously buried under layers of clicks. It even helps students find places for group study – “That’s a piece of information we didn’t have on the site before,” said Bourg. “Students learned about the Bender Room maybe by the time they were seniors.” It also directs users to subject librarians, who can give special help.
Another change: When getting help at the information desk, the librarians’ online search often didn’t look like anything you ever saw on the home page. Here’s one reason why: The information center site website had been updated more recently, as had many of the branch library sites. Think of a dinosaur surrounded by racecars. Now the dinosaur has been traded in for a Maserati, and all the vehicles are going at the same speed, together. They’ll be using the same website you’re using.
And it’s going to get even better. “A hundred library staff members are building content, starting now. That’s highly distributed authorship,” said Snydman.
According to Bourg, “The bottom line is that research, teaching and learning at Stanford will be easier now because the new library website rocks!”
The careful viewer will notice another change: The campus network of library, technology and publishing services previously known as SULAIR (that is, Stanford University Libraries & Academic Information Resources) is now called simply “Stanford University Libraries.” In early August, a quiet announcement to this effect went to the staff.
– Cynthia Haven, Stanford University Libraries