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L571 CourseWork Brooks

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L571 Resources:

Syllabus

Oncourse


Assignments:

Introduce Yourself

Coursequest 1

1. Hutmate 1: Website Evaluation

2. SBA 1: Basic XHTML

3. SBA 2: Advanced XHTML

4. Project 1: LITEhouse Award Nomination

5. Hutmate 2: Awards Discussion

Coursequest 2

Hutmate 3: Webmaster Interview

Hutmate 4: Project Plan

Project 2: Teddy Bear Daycare

Coursequest 3

SBA 3: Scripting and Usability

Hutmate 7: Content Analysis

Project 3: Action Plan


Hutmate 1

L571: Hutmate 1- Website Evaluation
kevin e. brooks

I looked at three different academic science or medical library websites.
My five essential aspects:
  1. usability/clarity of design,
  2. authority/up-to-date & referenced information,
  3. plays to lower (if not lowest) common denominator (ie does not use lots of graphics or animations that require high speed connectionsâÄ”tends to use Universal Design philosophy)- important in any type of library site,
  4. contact information for web master
  5. help & search functions available

Website One:
Name of Website: MIT Libraries
URL - Web Address: http://libraries.mit.edu/
Location of Website: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Type of Website: academic
OS and Web Browser: Mac OSX, Safari & Camino (from Mozilla)
Date of Evaluation: 29 August 2005

Overall Impressions
Very clean design that does not look like what one might expect an academic science library website to look like. The home page displays very prominent entry points labeled in plain terms (i.e. little to no librarian jargon). The side bar on the right offers help if needed while the left offers a few quick links for more experienced users. Even though library jargon does not appear on the screen too much, I found some of the terminology a bit confusing and wondered at their thinking. For example, the help yourself link seemed redundant to me as it appears on a website- which inherently means help yourself to me. Clicking through the link, you find yourself in a table of different types of materials and subject categories, tip sheets and research guides. A very useful page if not immediately clear of purpose. Overall, a simple website eminently usable by it target audience.

Content Aspects
The content consists of pointing students and faculty in the correct direction. Rather than providing content-rich resources right on the top level, MIT Libraries has chosen to fill its website with helpful information for finding just what you might need and then telling you how to obtain it from them. I would use the words informative and directional in describing the main page. The authority and currency of the content stem from the MIT library personnel (whose information resides within easy access on the main page) and MITâÄ™s reputation itself.

Design Aspects
As I said above, the site has a very clean and organized design. By no means would I describe it as inspired or award-winning but it does have an appealing atmosphere about it. The look remains consistent throughout the site, although the pastels and soft lines of some of the graphics do seem a bit incongruent in the context of MIT hard sciences. The soft lines also tend to make the navigation seem a bit fuzzy and tentative.

Navigation Aspects
Lots of prominent links and even explanatory text for the main icons have links built in so users can access those pages directly. As I stated above, some of the wording on the main page links leaves one wondering at the meaning but clicking into the page remedies that quickly. Also, as I stated above, help and search tools for the site have prominent locations and seems appropriate for the audience. I might have placed all the extra information links on one side of the page instead of dividing them between left and right but it does not significantly interfere with finding what you need.

Technical and Usability Aspects
The site does not require special software to view, the HTML remains straightforward, and all the links function as they should. It loads quickly and seems to be browser independent.

Maintenance Aspects
All information I accessed seemed to be up to date. However, I could find no information on how often personnel update the site although some news-like information does appear at the top of the page indicating that the site does receive regular updates. Contact information for the webmaster appears at the bottom of the page as well.

Content Enhancements
Aside from the help features and the contact information, one of the main sections on the site is labeled About Us. Clicking on this link brings up a page with lots of information about the MIT Libraries such as personnel, branches, mission, annual reports, hot topics, and much more. The main page itself provides links to an Ask Us! service and even staff photos running across the bottom.


Website Two:
Name of Website: Purdue Pharmacy, Nursing, and Health Sciences Library
URL - Web Address: http://www.lib.purdue.edu/pnhs/
Location of Website: Lafayette, Indiana
Type of Website: academic
OS and Web Browser: Mac OSX, Safari & Camino (from Mozilla)
Date of Evaluation: 30 August 2005

Overall Impressions
Simple design with lots of very basic information about the library itself such as hours, location, and floorplans. Very much made for faculty and students working in those areas of study. Many of the links do not have an obvious explanation of what they lead to. For example, under the PNHS Links heading, links exist for Pharmacy, Nursing, and Health Sciences. From my own experience, I guessed that these lead to department websites rather than to research guides or more links pertaining to those subjects. Indeed, clicking on them takes users to the department pages of those subjects. They did not make this site to stand alone. It seems useful mainly for library information and accessing some databases. Overall, a very bland site with little use for the casual passerby.

Content Aspects
Consists mainly of policy and other general information about the PNHS. A group of links to some subject-specific databases appears near the bottom right hand corner of the page but otherwise the content is designed to direct users elsewhere for pertinent resources.

Design Aspects
It does not appear that much thought went into the design of this site. The top of the page seems to have one design scheme while the bottom has another. The top of the page even duplicates some of the links listed in the bottom of the page. The inconsistent design from page to page makes it difficult to remember that these pages exist as part of the same website.

Navigation Aspects
The links provided seem easy enough to read and use. Nothing on the site resides more than two clicks away but some of the links provided seem redundant and unnecessary. For example, the long list of links under the About PNHS link simply refer to different points on the same page. Providing one link to the about information with possibly some descriptive explanations surrounding it would have saved room and proven more efficient.

Technical and Usability Aspects
The site functions as it should but users do have to scroll down the page quite a bit on several pages. Users can view the page without special software or passwords and it does not seem browser-specific.

Maintenance Aspects
A note in the lower left corner says that the site last had an update on August 16, 2004âÄ”over a year ago. However, the Purdue University Libraries and the webmaster contact information do appear prominently on the page. Of course, when a website consists of little more than general information and policy statements, not much updating needs to be done.

Content Enhancements
This website does not provide much in the way of content enhancements other than what I have listed above: contact information and lots of general information about its location and hours. Of course, the nav bar at the top of the screen which appears on all the Purdue Libraries websites, does offer Ask a Librarian, Guides and Instruction, and Your Library Account links. However, the content specific to the PNHS holds little special or unusual resources.


Website Three:
Name of Website: Cabot Science Library, Harvard University
URL - Web Address: http://hcl.harvard.edu/cabot/
Location of Website: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Type of Website: academic
OS and Web Browser: Mac OSX, Safari & Camino (from Mozilla)
Date of Evaluation: 30 August 2005

Overall Impressions
A very nicely designed website. At first glance, it appears to be an archives and special collections unit rather than a science library. It provides an overview of the branch library itself in very basic terms never tauting itself as a full-fledged website. Links to the Libraries home page and Hollis, HarvardâÄ™s catalog, appear across the top of the page maintaining access to and usability of library resources. Unlike PurdueâÄ™s PNHS, Cabot intends itself only as a kind of information clearinghouse for the science library not a resource center.

Content Aspects
The content exists as I mentioned it above: information about services and resources available in Cabot not direct access to them. The content itself is clear and detailed and appropriate for its intended users. Faculty and students alike can find out some useful information on this website. For example, following the Request Materials link on the left side of the page lets faculty (and others) request materials or see what is already on order.

Design Aspects
The Cabot website displays a very simple less is more design. General information appears in the center and a navigation bar to the left. The colors and images used, as I said above, remind one more of an archives and special collections unit than a science library but this works well because Cabot, in some respects, acts as an archival unit.

Navigation Aspects
Navigation is very easy but some of the more direct links to library resources, such as Hollis or HCL Search, might appear somewhat too small although conspicuous in their placement. The navigation bar on the left offers an expanding menu which enables a large amount of information to be contained in a reasonable amount of space.

Technical and Usability Aspects
The website employs basic HTML coding with some scripting active on the page but not enough to bog down most users. The terms of the links and categories are clear in meaning and easily followed to a resource or information page. All the links work as they should.

Maintenance Aspects
No date for revision appears anywhere on the site. However, due to the recency of the announcements and some of other pieces of information it seems obvious that the site receives frequent attention. Contact information about the website must be inferred from the staff directory under the About link or found tucked in the lower right corner of the main page. Everything seems up-to-date and active. The President and Fellows of Harvard College lend their copyright seal to the site indicating their willingness to associate themselves with it.

Content Enhancements
The Cabot website provides quite a bit of information on services and resources available at the science library. Announcements appear prominently- it is most likely the first thing users will notice when they access the page- in the middle of the main page. Background information abounds on this science website beginning with a photo of the libraryâÄ™s namesake, Godfrey Lowell Cabot, right on the main page. An extensive history then appears under the About Cabot link.


created by: kevin e. brooks
date: 2 September 2005
email: kbrooks2@bsu.edu
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