Thursday, March 23, 2017

Would like to see the library catalogue (Tropicat) easier to locate

From the suggestion box:

I would like to see the library catalogue (Tropicat) easier to locate rather than hidden away in "Books, DVDs and More". This is especially so for the younger library users that may be unaware of the library's rich physical resources.

Library response:

We have had this idea suggested to us on occasion in the 5 years (or so?) since we stopped referring to Tropicat on our home page. We had several reasons for doing so, the most important was that our usability testing (done with undergraduates and based on the ideas of Steve Krug 'Don't Make Me Think' and the methodology described in his 'Rocket Surgery Made Easy') showed clearly:
  • That the term 'Tropicat' held no meaning for the vast majority
  • Even those that understood that it was our librarian label for 'catalogue' (yet another library term) didn't realise it was what you searched to find non-book resources like journals and videorecordings
At the same time One Search (Summon TM) had become an easy way to search not just the 'catalogue', but also journal articles, ResearchOnline @ JCU, LibGuides, NQHeritage, our suite of databases and even the fulltext of books, like you were searching Google, with one simple search.

We are format agnostic - we believe the value and utility of the content are the prime considerations (its ROI if you will). The container doesn't doesn't detract from the value, but it can hamper the utility, as anyone who remembers closed reserve collections of print materials will attest.

So we put One Search on the home page with a simple 'Start Here' label. It does everything the catalogue does and a lot more beside - plus in One Search a simple click on 'Library Catalogue' filters your search results to only be those items found in Tropicat.

Fundamentally our mission is to aid the teaching, learning and research activities of the university, and the evolution of those activities means print books are just one part of the increasingly diverse information needs of our clients. Meeting those needs has meant our acquisition of resources has had a major evolutionary shift - to the point where 95% of our materials budget is spent on online resources. Tropicat was never designed to manage that sort of content (either administratively from our perspective, or in delivery from your perspective).

So, while we freely acknowledge that for a certain set of needs Tropicat is the answer, ours was a 'greatest good' approach - particularly for clients unfamiliar with libraries and library resources (an additional rationale being that those who were familiar had the skills to dig down to the catalogue if that was what they required).

Those could be considered brave decisions at the time, but usability testing afterwards, and the use of analytics, have shown us that they were the right decisions for the majority of users.

But usability and the user experience (UX) are a constantly changing feast that requires constant monitoring, analysing and testing with a view to heuristically improving our web presence.  Feedback like yours aids that process, thank you for taking the time to make a suggestion.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Student Behaviour

From the suggestion box:

The decision to remove the admin desk from the the 1st level was a mistake, and this should be acknowledged by the JCU library. People will tolerate the intolerable because they lose momentum if they rush downstairs to the usually busy admin area to complain. It is not good enough to suggest that the rovers are not there to police students. There needs to be a permanent presence of staff on the first floor so that students can quickly deal with issues. Plus there needs to be more signage. Every year now there are the usual problems with students bringing in coffee, takeaways etc. Please take these issues a little more seriously.

Library response:
Thank you for your feedback. The library ground floor renovation (in 2012) resulted in the relocation of the InfoHelp desk from the first floor to the ground floor. This decision has allowed us to make more space for students on the first floor.

You may be aware that the Library has been zoned to include a silent level (2nd floor), quiet conversation level (1st floor) and collaborative space (ground floor).  Also food is not encouraged on the upper floors of the library. Unfortunately, even with the best of intentions, this is difficult to enforce. However we are aware of the issues and we are continually working on strategies to counteract them.

We can't be in all places at all times but then again we never could. We always have relied on library users to help us understand how the spaces are being used and letting us know when there is an issue.

Unfortunately if we are not made aware of a problem we can't address it. Perhaps future refurbishments of the building will mitigate some of your concerns.

Associate Director, Information & Research Services

Friday, May 13, 2016

Print Journal Display

From the Suggestion Box: 
The sudden near extinction of the journal display area I believe that it is a pity that for whatever reason, e.g. cost-cutting, presumed trendiness, etc. the library is rapidly ending subscriptions to many print journals. The journal display area is a fantastic way of getting students, academics and other visitors aware of the new knowledge that is coming out. Even if you don't want to hold on to the physical copies for longer than a few months, having a display journal area is an important part of the culture of any university library.

Library response:
Thank you for your feedback. The library ground floor renovation (2012) resulted in the move of the Newspapers, New Journals and New Books display to the Learning Commons area on the ground floor adjacent to Juliettes Cafe. The new display incorporates print material for newspapers, journals and books as well as posters advising staff and students of online resources. The original journal display stands have been retained on Level 1 because of their historic importance to the building as they were part of the original fit-out of the library. These stands are now used for casual reading material and other pamphlets, careers guidance brochures and other ephemeral material.

The library has not stopped purchasing journals in print format, we still have a number of subscriptions in place for various publications across a range of disciplines and schedules (annual to weekly). However we are finding that many journals are making the transition to online only.  Electronic subscriptions have the advantage of allowing 24/7 access by JCU staff and students across all campuses and modes of study, and meets the teaching and research needs of JCU more efficiently than print journals can. Our regular client surveys indicate that this preference is well supported and endorsed by JCU staff and students. Installing the Browzine App is one way that you can browse online content from your mobile device.

Also please note that journal titles are not cancelled without consultation or recommendation from the relevant Academy. It is also not our practice to throw out print journals after only a few months (see Collection Management Guidelines).

Helen Hooper Associate Director Information and Research Services