Area 51, Apr. 19, 2012

Present:  Mike Roy, Terry Simpkins, Carol Peddie, Mary Backus, Chris Norris and Doreen Bernier.
Web Team members: Jess Isler, Barbara Merz, Matt LaFrance, and Dan Frostman.
Digital Scholarship Group:  Rebekah Irwin, Ian McBride, Bryan Carson and Richard Jenkins

The Web Team presented their findings and recommendations from the User Needs Analysis (UNA)  and Usability Testing (UT) they performed on the LIS website to the ADs.  Using a combination of short pop-up surveys and focus groups comprised of faculty, staff and students, the Web Team performed a UNA in the Fall of 2011 to identify features that users most needed and/or expected from the LIS website.  The team also completed UT this spring in an attempt to gauge the usability of 3 high-level pages on the LIS website (the LIS home, library, and the helpdesk pages).

The UNA focus groups suffered from low turnout rates, but findings included a need to

  • improve the site search
  • relocate (or add additional links to) certain content
  • restructure the quick links drop-down menus
  • provide more detailed printer status data
  • implement more alias for go-links.

This information was shared with content managers, and some changes (e.g. site search) have already been implemented.

The Team also recommended the following:

  • LIS should conduct UNA prior to all major website redesigns.  This can be accomplished using the analytical tools the team used and/or by exploring current best practices
  • LIS should conduct UT regularly (i.e., at least once a year), especially using less intrusive methods such as the brief pop-up surveys.
  • Experiment to increase participation – find incentives that work, go to where the users are, etc.
  • Minor enhancements and refreshments can and should be implemented as the need arises
  • Encourage other stakeholders in the Middlebury web site to undertake UT relating to the College site as a whole

Possible next steps for the Web Team include:

  • Evangelize for regular, ongoing UNA & UT
  • Share info learned from analysis of Google Analytics data with content managers, possibly in combination with the development of a blueprint for content managers to use when undertaking UT
  • Review and make changes to the team charge and suggest membership

The Digital Scholarship Committee presented a proposal for a digital scholarship (DS) support unit to be formed within LIS.  This group would provide direction, approval, and operational support for LIS projects, consultation services for faculty and students focused on the digital humanities, and research and development of new tools/trends within the field.

There are already several faculty projects underway, and the group has made good progress on creating an attractive and functional presentation layer for MiddHistory Online, which we hope to launch in time for class reunions later this spring.  Communications will be handling marketing and promotion.

The presentation, while well-received, raised some hard questions, especially around the issue of identifying staffing resources to support such projects.  Other issues include maintenance and storage needs, connections with (and possibly work resulting from) the various College Innovation Task Forces, and being sensitive to faculty and administrative issues that will arise as DS efforts slowly become more mainstream.

The committee identified a number of next steps, including:

  • continued work on the projects currently in progress
  • conversations with liaisons and digital media tutors to review current faculty DS work that may benefit from some interaction with or support from the group
  • meeting with faculty members who have offered to work as liaisons as well as possibly Alison Byerly and Tim Spears.
  • investigating grant opportunities and other collaborative methods of supporting DS work at Middlebury

Upcoming agenda items

  • Apr. 26: budget fine-tuning
  • Mar. 3:
  1. Schedule Optional all LIS meetings
  2. Meet with the Education and Training Team about recommendations for LIS orientation
  3. Web & curricular technologies services & support

Thanks for reading,
Terry & Doreen

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