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Library to launch redesigned website

Nicole Toczauer | Friday, December 3, 2010


After a decade of being online, library.nd.edu and its online interface are being updated. The new website design will launch right before the beginning of the Spring 2011 semester, said Mark Dehmlow, head of the Library Web Department. 
Dehmlow said preparations should be completed by Jan. 13, but test versions of the website and catalog were available online a month ago. 
“The old system served us well and provides some great features, but we had been getting to the point where we were becoming constrained in what we could do with it,” he said. “The goal for us was to acquire a platform that could enhance the research experience at Notre Dame and bring a contemporary web experience to the catalog.”
The new website will feature a set of online tools that includes a cleaner organization of frequently used student resources. Dehmlow said this will allow users to focus their energies on applying information to their work, rather than dealing with difficulties in finding it.
“The new site uses fly-out menus at the top to provide deep access to a lot of content. We also took the most heavily used resources and services and placed them in the highly visible ‘Quicklinks’ section,” Dehmlow said. “We kept our tabbed search box in the most prominent location and decided to give a more prominent space to library news.”
CatalogPlus, the revamped version of the library’s current online catalog, will provide a comprehensive search of the Hesburgh Library, Kresge Law Library, Saint Mary’s College Library, Holy Cross College Library and Bethel College Library, Dehmlow said.
“Our users might not be aware of it, but they are actually able to check out items at those other libraries using their Notre Dame ID,” he said.
In addition to expanding the access to materials, the new catalog is based on technology similar to that used by Google. Using an optimal search program, Dehmlow said a true relevance ranking will provide better results without using complex search strategies.
“The new system features a ‘Filter’ column, which allows users to easily drill down into the collection by bringing information from the records up to the surface for the interface such as authors, topics and date ranges,” he said. “It really takes a lot of guesswork out of the search process.”
Eliminating guesswork from the system is the reason for the major digital renovation, Dehmlow said. After hearing reports of students finding the library’s current website difficult to navigate, Dehmlow and a team of IT staff worked to develop a better online presence for the library.  He said the team placed importance on user feedback.  
“We solicit feedback through focus groups, surveys, usability testing and feedback gathered from the library staff who interact with users,” Dehmlow said. “Usage statistics and industry trends help us focus on areas in which we can make the most impact.”
Dehmlow said the launch of CatalogPlus is the first step in content expansion for the website. 
“Our long-term goal is to take any unnecessary complexity out of the search process for our users and new technologies and standards are helping us do just that,” Dehmlow said. “Our success is measured in how well we are able to facilitate access to information.”
The Hesburgh Library staff welcomes user feedback. View the test site and catalogue interface at http://www.test.library.ned.edu and http://ndcatalogplus.library.nd.edu.  
By providing an e-mail address on the feedback form, students qualify for prizes in a drawing.