The Olive Tree
What's YOUR Topic? We welcome you to step through the subject portals at Fogler Library at http://www.library.umaine.edu/default.asp#Portals.
From Anthropology to Zoology and from Dance to Women's Studies, we have brought together books, journals, online resources, and contact with your Fogler Library subject specialist under a single web page we call a portal. A subject portal serves as a doorway for your research needs that leads to many resources available both locally and globally via the Internet. A wide array of subject portals, 83 in all, is available to support research and studies at the University of Maine.
The online portals can be likened to the time honored subject carrels found in research libraries that brought together traditional reference resources such as thesauri and journal indexes in a given subject area. This idea expanded to include tangible software products such as CD-ROMS that were installed on dedicated workstations in the library reference area.
It is from one of these expanded carrel concepts for the College of Business that the online portal took it first model. Business Reference Librarian Darylyne Provost was asked to build an alcove of resources pertinent to the various business related curricula. This hybrid consisted of both tangible materials: books, periodicals, indexes, and so forth as well as relevant selected Internet resources and subject guides. A dedicated workstation at the alcove location displayed a web page, inviting the user to explore the wealth of resources and offering a place to get started - a gateway or portal then to a mix of library resources.
The original design was both functional and visually appealing and served as a model for the next generation portal intended to reach a growing number of remote users of library resources. The concept was expanded, continuing to provide points of departure for print and other tangible resources but incorporating a rapidly growing number of information tools available online. Links to course guides, subject specific licensed databases, and computer generated lists of new library acquisitions were included. We also explored partnering links to web sites offered by departments and research units on campus.
A library staff member serves as the primary contact and content developer for each of the portals. The personal service of a librarian via our virtual reference service “Ask a Librarian” is just a click away. Phone contact and e-mail links are also available.
We initially developed pilots in two subject areas: education and nursing. Content for these was provided by area specialists Cynthia Crosser and Nancy Curtis. Working behind the scenes to facilitate both content management an ease of navigation were staff with information infrastructure skills, notably Wei Dai and Albie Dunn. We were able to leverage information already garnered through the library’s online catalog. We asked subject specialists to submit Library of Congress call number ranges suitable to the field of study that were then programmed to filter the monthly acquisitions lists created by the online catalog. At a glance our users can see what new titles have arrived in the field of music for example.
Finally we were able to work with Jerry Lund, a member of the library’s marketing group to develop a logo that helps to readily identify and promote the new service by various media.
The project has been especially satisfying because it involved a range of staff with various areas of expertise. Everything from subject knowledge to programming to marketing savvy has contributed to the new service. In its initial review by our standing usability group here on campus the service received high marks. With the constant change in technological opportunities and user expectations the portals service will continue to evolve as Fogler Library continues to provide gateways for information discovery.
Home | Olive Tree | Winter 2006