I’m officially done with graduate school! As can be concluded by the lack of blog updates, my last semester was extremely busy. Luckily everything has finally calmed down and I can enjoy time off. I’m in the process of quitting my student part-time jobs and enjoying summer before my new job starts in August. Until then, I’m going to make time for new hobbies, reading, cooking and traveling.
This fall semester I took a class about information architecture. As I learned in the class, it’s a subject that is hard to define, but there are things or concepts that it is not. I like to think of IA as the structure or foundation of a website. Ideally good IA makes the website usable, meaning the needs and wants of a user are satisfied by the use of the website.
The final project in the class required I recreate the IA for any small to medium sized website. I chose a local restaurant because I thought an improvement in the website would help sales and boost it’s web credibility. We were not required to actually recreate the website or meet with the owners of the website, so everything was hypothetical.
If you ever need to create wire frames for a website, I’d highly recommend Mockflow. This tool is free to use for up to three pages, with a wide array of components and styles to add to the wire frame. If I ever had to make wire frames for a more robust page, I’d consider purchasing paid account. This interface is much easier to use than Fireworks or Visio. I was able to make a wire frame for each page in under fifteen minutes. I also liked that I could log into this website with my Gmail account and the changes were saved as I made them. The following is an example of a wire frame/prototype I made for my project.
One more semester down, one more left! It’s hard to believe that I will finally be done with school in less than 5 months! The most exciting news is that I have a full-time job lined up in August! I’ll give more details about the job as it gets closer, but I’ll be a software application consultant in Indianapolis. I’m so thankful to have this lined up this early and not have to stress about job interviews in my last semester. I also like knowing where I’ll be when school is over. I’m going to miss working in libraries, but I hope to volunteer at the public library.
Other exciting news? I finally have a smartphone! I don’t know how I lived without it.
Recently I started working a 6th part-time job in the Digital User Experience (DUX) department at the IU Libraries as the web editor assistant. I’ve already learned so much about how the website functions and the challenges of maintaining a site with so many content creators and webpage users. Currently the website is maintained through IU’s content manager. This CM was created years ago solely for the IU Libraries system. Today it’s rather clunky and outdated and the website itself is in need of a major overhaul. Luckily, consultants are in the process of recommending a new look and feel for the site and it will be transferred to a Drupal CM.
I was recently tasked with creating word clouds based on the questions asked at the Reference desk, including from in-person, phone, and through the Chat IM service. I made 4 different cloud: the first week of classes – Chat IM, first week of classes – in person/phone, 3rd week of September – Chat IM, 3rd week of classes – in person/phone. Not surprisingly, the top words were, print, book, library, and stapler (we have a stapler thieving problem at IU). These results will be useful to share with the consultants so they can better understand what our users are looking for or are having difficultly locating.
To create the word clouds, I used Tagxedo. I preferred this word cloud tool because it was more flexible in regards to styling elements and format options. Here is a word cloud for my website.
Don’t forget to check out the ReDUX blog! I write a post once a month and the most recent one will be about word clouds too!
Every year in early August, the Residential Programs and Services Libraries gear up in preparation for the opening of the 12 library locations. All of the libraries are located in a residence hall, so they are closed during the summer months. This is my third year as a center supervisor for the RPS Libraries and my second year at the Collins Library.
As the supervisor of the Collins Library, this means my month is full of planning, training, decorating, and book movin’. The first week we are required to attend a four day orientation where new supervisors are trained and veterans, like myself, help with some presentations and relay tips, tricks, and advice. From the first week of orientation to opening night, we have two weeks to hire and train staff, set up displays and programs, meet and correspond with the residence hall staff, and get the library organized.
Since I supervised Collins Library last year, many of the most important tasks were already done. Large tasks and projects included:
- Hiring two new staff members. Four were returning from the previous year, but I prefer having six student assistants. I schedule rotating weekend shifts and with six employees everyone gets only one weekend shift.
- Displays! I finally got in the material I bought from the two funding proposals and decided to dedicate the August/September display to these materials. This includes the $450 for graphic novels and $300 for GLBT material. Collins Library is the only library on the Bloomington campus to have a dedicated graphic novel section. It is also, by far, one of the most popular collections in our library. I used the money to buy many of the classics that were missing from the collection, the last few novels from various series’, and was even able to buy the whole box set of the Deathnote series. The Collins residence hall is also very GLBT friendly, so the material bought from that proposal has also been very popular. When I purchased this material I tried to get as much input from the patrons as possible. They were able to give me very good suggestions.
- Rearranging all the furniture! I spent way too much time doing this, but since I was finally able to weed all the VHS there was a lot of extra room and extra shelving. I’m pretty happy with the new arrangements.
I’m also proud of the official Collins Library IMDB watchlist. My staff members kept asking for a genre listing of our movies because patrons often come in wanting a specific genre and IU’s catalog isn’t the most user friendly or best way to find genres. I was initially going to just make an Excel spreadsheet and manually enter genres but our collection was just too large for that plan. After playing around with IMDB I stumbled upon the “watchlist” feature where I could input the titles and then the collection could be searched through different facets, like genre, release year, user rating, etc. I posted little blurbs all over the library with a tinyurl link to the page and a QR code. Patrons and my staff have found this very useful and an easier way to access our collections.
The Collins Library has now been opened for a few weeks and everything is running very smoothly. The biggest challenge running the library is making our presence known. The Library takes up the whole fifth and top floor of the building, but there are no elevators and no reason to stumble upon our location. All freshman that live in the Collins residence hall are required to take a 1 credit class where they get to know the community. I asked the assistant manger of Collins (and also the person that coordinates those classes), if it could be a requirement to tour the library. She said yes (!!) and now our patron count has been extremely high. The patron count is the number of people that enter the library during the open hours. In the past, Collin’s patron count was very low, but it’s been steadily climbing and we’ve been beating some of the traditionally more popular residence hall libraries. I’m going to work my hardest to keep that number climbing.
Be sure to check out the Collins Library Facebook page and our most recent photo albums for pictures of the new displays and arrangments!