Category Archives: Uncategorized

December 2, 2008, 8:31 am

What do students want to see in a library newsletter?


The GT Library has been producing a monthly newsletter for about four years now. These issues appear in the bathroom stalls and are filled with a hodgepodge of information. We were inspired by William & Mary’s effort and you can read our back-story here.

I am no longer involved with the production of this publication but I am lending a hand in the assessment effort. I recently conducted a quick poll (I actually had a student do it in order to get more authentic answers) of individuals around campus and asked them a few questions.

  • Did they recall ever seeing an issue before in the library?
  • Review three issues and tell me what info/design elements stand out the most.
  • Which of these three issues is your favorite?
  • What type of content would you like to see or expect to see in this type of publication?

This is the first wave of a handful of assessment efforts. I tested different…

Read More

November 20, 2008, 1:18 pm

Where can I find this book? Floor plan maps in the catalog

It is always fun helping a friend at another school find information via their library’s website.  I guess it would be like visiting England or Australia where they speak the same language, but the accent is just a bit different. Anyway, I discovered a very cool finding aid to help users locate items in the stacks.

Check it out. Go to FSU’s Library site  and search for something.  Cloning is always my default keyword.

You’ll see something like this:


When you click on “map” you get this:

It’s a great concept. Maybe all the catalogs are doing this these days—I have not been following the talk about 2.0 OPACs but this helps with a common challenge: finding books in the stacks. So I commend FSU for this. However, I tried to use their “texting” feature and after 2 hours it still has not arrived.  

So on a hunch I looked at several other Florida universities…

Read More

November 7, 2008, 9:59 am

A few more thoughts on library websites

With the last post I offered a handful of library websites that admire. I would not go as far at to say that they are best designs, but simply that they are great examples of what I have found to be helpful for starting a conversation about redesigns.

Here are a few more I'd like to share.


I can't recall about their old design but I know that I didn't like it—however their current design is great. It is very clean and friendly. When I talk with students about library sites intimidation is a theme that comes up a lot— I feel that Duke has done very well to reduce that fear. Some (many) of us try and cram so much onto our front-page that it becomes a blur– I like the balanced design of Duke.

Buffalo State

I mentioned Buffalo in my original post, but I'd like to draw your attention to their cross town rivals Buffalo State . This site also has a…

Read More

October 31, 2008, 9:06 am

5 Library Website Designs Worth Talking About

A friend of mine is in the initial stages of a website redesign. Her team is looking at a handful of other library homepages to begin their discussions. She sent me the list and they are all decent, but none really seemed aspirational. In my attempt to be like Cramer, here are five that I suggested. These are the sites that inspire me.

  • UNC – Chapel Hill
    I have been a fan of UNC’s website for several years. It has recently changed a little, but the core design is still there. It is a little busy, but I really like it.  Icons work for me.
  • Brown
    Personally, I’m not so into this design… but students love it. I’ve tested it in focus groups as well as in a usability class and the students all gravitate toward this layout. It just seems to work. I had a friend at another college test it as well with the same result. There is something we can all learn here.
  • Buffalo
    I discovered this…

Read More

October 30, 2008, 7:56 am

Georgia Tech Goes Goth

A little Halloween fun here. A copy of our bathroom newsletter. This is a monthly publication that goes out to via bathroom stalls designed and developed by the Information Services Department.

An Alison Valk design.

September 24, 2008, 10:52 am

WorldCat iPhone “app”: a quick review


First things first, it is not an app, but a website that was designed for the iPhone screen size. I guess they are waiting for Mr. Jobs to approve it—I hear there is a long queue of pending apps.

Aesthetically it looks fine. Everything fits and it has the iPhone feel. The interface is a vast improvement over First Search.

Functionally— it has some problems. I am going to assume that most users are not going to mess around with the settings. When I open the page I am presented with single search box and a go button. Beneath that are a few headings: biography, graphic novels, personal finance, movie review, and many more.

I searched for Little Brother (the book I am currently reading, recommended by Jason Puckett) and the title does not show up in the first thirty hits so it is basically non-existent.

I tried with a more common title: Native Son. It appears as #7, which is good, but …

Read More

September 22, 2008, 9:18 am

A bit of this and that: some updates

The “I do’s” are done. Another librarian/librarian union is formed. We had a nice honeymoon in Charleston.


My book is done too—or I should say, the manuscript is finished and it is in ALA’s hands now. I expect there to be a round of editing. Hopefully it will be out Spring 2009.

Apparently there is a Title Committee and they have named it:

Marketing Today’s Academic Library: A Bold New Approach

I have some issues with the word “bold” but it is one of those choose-your-battles moments. I think I’ll let this one go. My title was:
Communicating with College Students: marketing strategies for academic libraries.

ACRL 2009
I usually get burned by ACRL, but this time around it worked out. Steven Bell is a good luck charm. Looking forward to my first trip to the great Northwest.

  • “Mapping Your Path to the Mountaintop: Planning Where You Want To Be In Your Career…

Read More

September 2, 2008, 8:33 am

dataDUMP City

Having a great designer on staff makes all the difference. As a follow-up to the dataDUMP project, this was my flyer prototype:

And here is what Dottie Hunt interpreted:


Other News:

  • Getting married in twelve days.
  • Draft of the book will be sent to ALA in eight days.

August 13, 2008, 9:16 am

dataDUMP = a social-driven library instruction project

Our Fall Semester is less than a week ahead. This is one of the busiest times of the year, at least for reference librarian types. There is always a sort of slumber that I get used to during the summer which is jolted awake by thousands of students returning to campus. The first few days of a new semester are always exciting—a heightened energy—so I am looking forward to it, but wish I had another few weeks to finish projects.

Regarding instruction, my main liaison responsibility now is the College of Computing and I’ve tinkered around with some instruction ideas. A few professors invite me to talk with their classes, the tradition instruction approach. And a few of them also ask me to prepare handouts, help guides, or Camtasia video tutorials for their course management system–we use Sakai. Several of my colleagues offer office hours at the departments they serve or host one-shot…

Read More

July 28, 2008, 6:04 am

Before & After