Changes to left-hand menu in new (draft!) library site

We’d like to get some quick feedback on 2 potential changes to the left-hand menu in the new library site.  If you go the library site in Drupal (under development!), you can see how these changes would look.

  1. Change the name “Library Departments” to “Contact Us.”  The purpose of this page is to give users quick access to departments like Reserves, Interlibrary Loan, Collection Management, etc.  Using the word “Contact” in the name of the page brings more attention to the page, we think.  It also might allow us to remove the long list of contact info that otherwise could be needed on the library collections pages.
  2. Create a new subpage under “Library Collections” called “Collections,” and nest pages like College Archives, Government Documents and Digital Collections in it.  This decreases the number of subpages under “Library Collections” to 6.  White Whale recommends no more than 8 subpages, and without this change, “Library Collections” has 11.  We considered nesting some of the collections under “Main Library,” but we think that nesting them under “Collections” gives them a little more prominence.

We think these changes will make it easier for most users to find what they’re looking for.  Do you agree?

12 thoughts on “Changes to left-hand menu in new (draft!) library site

  1. Terry Simpkins

    Hi Carrie
    1) I like the change in name to Contact Us. Makes sense to me, and sounds less bureaucratic than “Library Departments”
    2) I like the changes to Lib Collections in theory better than in the actual mock up. My suggestion would be more like this
    ——GOV DOCS

    In other words (in case the formatting gets screwed up in this post), to nest the specific collections (archives, etc.) under Main Library, which is where they actually live. (I know: “Dig” doesn’t really live anywhere, but the work is done mostly in Main).

    It just seems a little weird to me to list a bunch of branches and then list “Collections” separately on the same level.


  2. Brenda

    Actually I prefer leaving it as Library Departments. Users aren’t always looking for contact info. and they may have something specific in mind like reserves, ILL, so they are looking for those terms or a close approximation (departments). They may be looking for documentation, policies, structure, etc. I’d rather see a Contact Us as a separate page that gives a general phone and email and then a most frequently requested (Reserves, ILL, Circulation, Research Assistance/Ask a Librarian and a link to Departments or the Directory for more additional contact info. If you’d really like to combine the two, then label it Departments and Contacts.

    On a related note, I don’t know what you intend for the center of the page, but I think we absolutely need a link for Reserves and ILL front and center on the main page. You have Borrowing on the side menu but not Reserves or ILL. I think the latter two are even more heavily sought – all 3 need to be on the front page.

    As for Collections, I’m not satisfied with the arrangement. I completely agree that we should reduce the nesting. In fact I think we should reduce it even more. If I’m looking for special collections, I should be able to click on Collections and not have to click on a 2nd “Collections” – it should be right there on the page and I prefer to see all this info in the center of the page, not just in the sidebar menu. Why not simply expand out the hierarchy on the page itself so that users would see Main Library as a heading, and underneath that each collection listed, then below that Armstrong Science Library and highlight anything special like Map collection and so forth. I don’t think we need the middle of the main collections page devoted to a long general description in large print. I’d rather see the first part of the description you have in regular sized font with ..more (like users are accustomed to with blog posts) and then each library or collection listed and described similarly. Also get rid of the right side bar stuff at this level – its taking up real estate and forcing everything to have to be on subplages. You could put library hours and Ask a librarian in the left menu (but keep them in the right menu for the main Library page). That or make it part of a header that goes across the top page of all pages. I just hate having subpages crammed into tiny space.

    Also, new users have no idea what Davison library is or William Tell. Spell it out like you did for Armstrong. Thus Davison (Breadloaf) library, and William Tell (Monterey) library. Brand New users still might not know what Breadloaf is but within a few weeks our new students, faculty and staff will have heard of Breadloaf, while you’d easily find seniors who have no clue what Davison is or William Tell.

    I can explain all this better in person. Stop in! :)

  3. Arabella

    I agree with Brenda about ILL and Reserves being prominent, and I like Terry’s idea of nesting the collections that are held in Main.

    I have a comment about the opening paragraph on the “Library Collections” page (I know – you’re not asking about that; too bad).

    Currently it says:
    “Our collection is particularly strong in languages to support our summer Language School programs. ”

    The summer LS programs evolved out of an institutional focus on international studies/languages that predates the establishment of the LSs (well-established though they are). Yes, we get materials for the LSs that we might not get if they weren’t here, but… it’s kind of a chicken-and-egg thing. Regardless, I think it would be better to state something more inclusive of language teaching than just the summer LSs. One possibility:

    “Our collection is particularly strong in languages to support Middlebury College’s focus on international and cross-cultural studies.”

  4. jtoth

    1. Library Departments: “Contact” is fine with me if quick access is what you want. If you use contact, however, you must have an exhaustive list of all possible points of contact, as “contacting is what you’re facilitating. When you list departments, you limit the list to what you’re defining as departments.

    2. Library Collections: You bring the problem of having 11 entries on yourselves by confusing libraries and collections. To students, campus libraries are places to go to for specific materials or to study in specific locations. Collections are subsets of the information resources we have on hand, usually noted by subject and/or format (i.e. Vermont, Postcards, Flanders Ballads, etc). Rid yourselves of one or the other in this category, and don’t feel you have to be exhaustive with collections. Why, for instance, must we single out gov docs? The government is merely one publisher–albeit a large one–among many that offer materials on subjects in the general collection.

    3. I’d like to see an “About Us” link on the left side that offers org info on LIS and the library. It’d be like the link we all use when we go to other library pages, as some of us do often.

  5. Richard Jenkins

    Contact Information — Would it look awkward to label this “Contact/Departments” or something similar to satisfy both sides?

  6. Michael Roy

    Since we are budgeting time for usability testing, let’s be sure to test out various options and see which actual users prefer!

  7. R. Manning

    Nesting pages for collections physically in the Main Library makes sense, but not for the Digital Collections page. It should retain a separate heading.

    I think the “Library Departments” heading was a bit clearer than the more relaxed “Contact Us.” I’m not sure people will understand/look for the information we are including within these pages under that terminology.

  8. Carrie Macfarlane Post author

    Thanks for your feedback, everyone.

    We’ve made changes to the “Library Collections” page. See Much work (adding and revising content) still needs to be done, but please tell us at least what you think of the new structure. Remember that usability testing will be the most important factor in our final decisions.

  9. Dan Frostman

    From a Music Library perspective, I do not like the new layout. Once you are at the Music Library, it is hard to get back to the Main Library (or anywhere else, for that matter). It also creates an awkward situation wherein once you navigate away from the Music Library homepage, you can’t get back to it through the left-hand menu. I liked it the old way better and did not feel like the menu was too long.

  10. Brenda

    Much better!, but I still have a few more suggestions. Reduce the font of the intro and put a ..more and continue with a more detailed description combining what is on the main library page. As it is, one sentence takes up half the page – which will fill the screen of smaller devices. I’m confused by the subscription here and the description on the Main library page, which also describes collections but seems to refer to all libraries (ex. it mentions music recordings). Put all that together on this revised page as I mention above. The order of the collections isn’t clear to me. its not quite alphabetically so it would make more sense to me to put archives, spec. coll, and vt together and not list govt docs in the middle of them. It might be nice to highlight maps as a collection too. Spell out other collections to say “other collections on campus” which is clearer and matches the title on the page itself.

    My guess is you can tweak the nav to address Dan’s comments about returning to the main library page. It should be more obvious than just the breadcrumb at the top.

    I don’t know how far along you are with the Main Library page. I have lots of suggestions for that. Would make more sense to me to focus on it as space and describe services and facilities, like you do in the brochure at the info desk. In fact it would be great to link to digital copies of all 3 brochures. “services and facilities”; Self-guided tour” and “sustainable features”. That would help prospectives (ok their parents) who might be looking at our website in lieu of visiting.

    Thanks for your work on this.

  11. Carrie Macfarlane Post author

    Thanks everyone. A few responses so far:

    Brenda suggested including a description of the building under Main Library. I think that’s a great idea. I grabbed some of the text from here , revised it, and added it to this page. Do you think we should include more content about the building from the old MCMS “new library” pages? I think that whatever we don’t include on the new site will die (or get archived…not sure yet).

    Joe is revising the text of the Main Lib collection description so that it’s only about the Main Lib.

    We haven’t been able to come up with a better way of labeling “Contact Us”

    We haven’t been able to come up with a better compromise between giving visibility to collections and avoiding deep hierarchies. Breadcrumbs and the back button are used frequently in usability studies. We’ll submit a question that gets at this issue for usability testing (just in case Music hasn’t done so already!)

    We changed the order of the collections subpages

    As we understand it, the page displays will be resized (thru scripts?) for handheld devices


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