Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reconsidering the Library Web Portal

Steven J. Bell has a thought-provoking piece in the Feb. 17th issue of Inside Higher Ed : "The Library Web Site of the Future". Bell's jumping-off point is an August 2008 Ithika Group report, "Studies of Key Stakeholders in the Digital Transformation of Higher Education, which showed, he writes, that "faculty no longer perceived the library as an important portal to scholarly information."

Another indicator of this trend is a 2008 Simon Inger Consulting report on "How Readers Navigate to Scholarly Content" which showed that the two preferred starting points for researchers are specialist databases and general Web search engines. Library web portals ranked below email journal alerts and publisher Web sites.

Despite the best efforts and intentions of librarians, researchers will "invent their own backdoor routes to the content" that they need, and librarians need to meet them where they are rather than to to force them to come through official channels. Rather than spending time and money tweaking the resource portal, he recommends highlighting the services we provide, e.g., "the community activities that anchor the library's place as the social, cultural and intellectual center of campus." He sees a lot of value in tools like LibGuides, since they embed appropriate resources immediately at the point of need, rather than expecting people to navigate the vast expanse of library content.

No comments:

Post a Comment