Monthly Archives: February 2010

Quick-Start Guide for new library web site

Our updated Quick-Start Guide to Library Research [pdf] provides:

  • a screenshot “map” of research resources in the new library web site
  • step-by-step instructions for finding journal articles

We often use this guide as a handout in research workshops.  It prints on one page, double-sided.  Please use it and distribute it widely!

Library Ending CD Borrowing through ILL

Due to staffing and budget reductions in LIS, we are no longer able to continue traditional ILL services for CD requests.  As of Feb. 1st we will no longer be borrowing or lending CDs through ILL.

The average cost to borrow an item through ILL is about $30.00.  When we include the costs of Mailing and ILL fees, requesting a CD through ILL was at times costing more than purchasing the CDs. Other options for acquiring CDs still include:

Borrow from NExpress: Middlebury will continue to both borrow and lend CDs via NExpress.  There are negligible shipping costs for CD borrowing and lending for NExpress requests because all NExpress items are shipped together.  Middlebury patrons may search the NExpress Catalog at http://go/nexpress.  You can specifically search for CDs and other sound recordings by selecting “Sound Recordings” from the “View Entire Collection” drop down box on the NExpress search page.

Request a purchase: If a CD is not available via NExpress, the CD title can be submitted for purchase to the Music Library, by using the on-line form:

While the Music Library is unable to purchase everything, it is our hope to be able to increase patron driven purchasing as a way to help ease this reduction in ILL services.

Any requests for CDs submitted to ILL after February 1st will be forwarded to Music for purchase consideration and the ILL request will be cancelled.

For questions contact

Good news! You can print from your laptop!

laptopIf the document you need to print is in Word, Excel, or PDF format, you can upload it from your laptop or desktop to a print queue via a web interface and then release it from the release stations, eliminating the step of having to print it from a library or lab computer.
Here’s how!
To print from your laptop when on the campus network:
Connect to
Logon with your Middlebury [email] username/password
From the lefthand menu, select “Web Print”
Click on “Submit a Job >>”
Select a printer from the list
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “2. Print Options and Account Selection”
Specify number of copies, if you’d like
Click on “3. Upload Document”
Click on “Browse” to select the document on your computer that you wish to have printed
Click on “Upload & Complete”

Please contact the Technology Help Desk with any questions.

Changes to location of reference resources

In the old site we had a link for Online Reference Sources. You’ll find a revised version in the new research guides format.  Just choose Reference from the Research guide widget drop-down menu from the Library page (on the right side).  Not all online reference resources are on this guide – some specialized ones are on the individual subject guides and others are simply listed in midcat or are part of larger collections (ex. Oxford Reference Online).  To see what kind of resources I’m talking about, just look at the guides.

If anyone is used to using our “ready reference” books (the small section of  high use ref books that used to be on the shelves next to the reference desk), you’ll notice those shelves are now empty.  We did away with that separate section.  Those books have either been transferred back into the main reference section or weeded (withdrawn) if they were no longer needed (ex. phonebooks – we have online sources for that info on the online Reference guide).  If you can’t find something, try searching in midcat If you still can’t find it, email a librarian at

Website Improvements #2: Custom Redirects

Our GO service has been and will continue to be our supported way for maintaining permalinks to resources. By publishing GO links to resources online and in print, you are able to move your resources to new homes (such as a different location in the new site, a blog, or a wiki) and update the go link with the self-service GO management screens.

During the web-makeover project planning it was decided that we need to move forward with a new site architecture (where everything lives) and drop support for the old URLs from previous versions of the site that are 3-15+ years old. Most of the time links can and should be updated at their original locations, but if that is impossible (such as in a print mailing), you can now ensure that the correct link shows up on the main site’s 404 page.


Steps to add a link for a 404 page on the main site:

  1. Create a nice GO shortcut to the new destination if one doesn’t exist.
    Go to the GOtrol Panel and create a new go shortcut to the new destination URL.
    If a go shortcut for this destination already exists, then you can skip this step.
  2. In the GOtrol Panel, click on the ‘Create’ tab and add an alias for your shortcut from step one. The important thing here is that the alias ‘name’ is the path portion of the URL that is hitting the 404 page after the initial ‘/’.

    For example, if this URL is getting a 404 page:
    then the alias name should be:


  3. Go back to the 404 page and verify that it now includes the GO link to your resource.

We still recommend that you update the pages that link to the site to use their new URLs or GO links, but if that is impossible, you now have a work-around to direct users to the appropriate place.

No MIDCAT in new library site???

Many researchers are surprised and dismayed that there’s no easy way to get to MIDCAT in the new library site.  There is!!!  If someone can’t find MIDCAT, they’re probably using Internet Explorer version 6.  In IE 6, the “Library Quick Search” portal–with MIDCAT, articles, journals and more–displays at the bottom of the front page rather than at the top.  We tested the new site on multiple browsers, but alas, this issue didn’t become apparent until after launch.  We’ve reported the problem and hope for a resolution soon.

If you can’t find MIDCAT, try scrolling down.  Pass it on!

Website Improvements #1: Reducing home page load time by 80%

Now that the new site is live, we’ll be making continuous updates to improve the design, interface, and performance of the site. After launching the site, the most obvious area requiring improvement was load time for the homepage. Even on campus, the page would take between 12-15 seconds to fully load. Most of this was loading the list of stories to display on the homepage. This used a View in Drupal which would execute this query on the database:

SELECT node.nid AS nid,
   RAND() AS _random
 FROM node node
 LEFT JOIN mm_recycle mm_recycle 
   ON node.nid = AND (mm_recycle.type = 'node')
 LEFT JOIN term_node term_node 
  ON node.vid = term_node.vid
 LEFT JOIN term_data term_data 
  ON term_node.tid = term_data.tid
 LEFT JOIN vocabulary vocabulary 
  ON term_data.vid = vocabulary.vid
 WHERE (node.type in ('story'))
 AND (node.promote <> 0)
 AND (vocabulary.vid = '11')
 AND ( = 'Home')
   ORDER BY _random ASC

The Views module claims that it take this amount of time total to execute this query:

Query build time 12.57 ms
Query execute time 7.83 ms
View render time 28.9 ms

So, about half a second total just to run the query. Unfortunately, the Views module can’t return all of the information I need to build the list of stories, particularly the database IDs for all of the images used in the stories, which are stored in a module that we haven’t fully integrated with Views at this time. While it will be great to get the server-side operations of this query optimized, we needed a good short-term solution for shortening the load time of the home page.

The other problem with the Views approach is that the results were not being efficiently cached by the server. The list of stories on the homepage will change weekly, or daily, but with thousands of people hitting the site at the same time, new requests are fetching the information many times per second. We can assume that most of these people are going to receive the same list of stories, so we now have the server hold onto a copy of the list of stories until someone saves a story node on the site. This is now done using a direct query of the database, bypassing the Views module.

Here’s the difference in page load time:


The list of stories is the fourth line and takes 181ms to load, or two tenths of a second. The main bottleneck for the homepage is now loading the Google Analytics graphic from the remote service. Of course, occasionally you will experience a slow load as you’re the unlucky one that hits the home page right after a cache clear due to someone saving a story, but on average you’ll find the site faster. We expect that this change will have ripple effects in increasing performance on the rest of the site as load on the database is decreased.

This post is the first in a series meant to shed light on the improvements we’re making on the site. My goal is to do at least one thing each week to dramatically improve our website experience for someone. If there are particular things about the site that you feel need improvement, please fill out the web feedback form. If you have questions about this topic, leave a comment.

Course Reserves

With Spring Term about to begin, Library Reserves is busy preparing print, media, and electronic materials for course work. The best way to contact the Reserves Department with requests and questions is through the Library Reserve mailbox: Email is the best way to ensure a timely response to all Reserve needs. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch. We’re here to help!