Redesigning the Digital Commons Page

Recently, our team has been assisting with a new initiative to make sure documents sent in to our institutional repository (IR) are accessible. I won’t go into much detail, but since this new initiative was being launched, it was proposed to have the digital commons (our IR) page redesigned for the launch.

Old Page

The old page was really just a lot of text, and too much of it. I’m also not sure how long it had been since anyone had revised it. The biggest problem was that it was difficult to find what you wanted, especially how or where to submit a document.

Old Digital Commons Page
Old Digital Commons Page


So the first mockup was actually given to me by the group working on the IR project. While a vast improvement over the original page, I was not a fan of the quadrant look. I’m probably biased because it was overused at my last work place, but regardless, I thought I could do better.

Mockup #1
Mockup #1

One thing that didn’t make sense to me was why you would have a link to a search page instead of just building in a search on the page (same with the news). While a search box was thought of, I’m not sure how it would’ve worked into the square design. I was actually working on the Articles redesign around the same time, so I ended up using some of the ideas I had floating around in my head already.

Mockup #2
Mockup #2

The colours I used were based on the first mockup, which were in turn based on the IR site’s colours.

Redesigned Page

The redesigned page came out pretty much exactly as the mockup. However, the project members called me the day after to tell me that the green shows as a very ugly yellow if the screen or projector is not properly calibrated. So, I ended up changing the colours to our library’s colours.

Current New Digital Commons Page
Current New Digital Commons Page

Most of the text that was on the original page is now on the About page linked from this landing page. I think it’s a huge improvement, so hopefully it helps to encourage more of our users to submit things to our IR.

Workshop: Communicating the Library’s Value in Academia

The librarians had a half-day workshop where the activities focused on how we can communicate the value of librarians and the library to the rest of the university. Continue reading “Workshop: Communicating the Library’s Value in Academia”

Setting up WordPress CMS for an Academic Library

A lot of people have setup WordPress, and obviously each organization needs to set it up a specific way to fit their needs. Nevertheless, learning how different libraries set up their CMS is something I have found useful in the past, so I thought it might be helpful for someone else if I shared the way I decided to set up WordPress at my work.

The Install

As we have more than one site, it was an obvious choice to use the MultiSite flavour of WordPress. We set it up to use the directory structure option since we would be under a subdomain already, we decided against having sub-subdomains.

We installed it on its own virtual server through our central IT. We discovered in the process, however, that by default, a lot of modules are disabled by IT, so we had to request a number of them to be installed. For the core, the only one was:

  • GD Support – required for creating the different image sizes (i.e. thumbnail, medium, large)

Various plugins uses PHP modules that are part of the standard PHP install, so may not point out the need for enabling them. For plugin requirements, I’ll note them in the plugins section.

Setting Up The Sites

Creating the sites were simply a click of a button of course, but a lot of settings had to be changed. While most of the defaults were fine, I did change a number of settings. In particular, one of the settings was only accessible (through the Dashboard) by manually entering into the address bar, options.php

image_default_link_type = ‘none’

For most of our sites, there is no advantage to linking to the attachment page or a full size version of the image. Additionally, the images that are uploaded are usually close to the size that is being used on the page. The one exception I made was for the Archives & Special Collections site.

We also do not allow users to set up their own sites, so staff have to contact a network administrator.

Making The Themes

The lengthiest part of the process was making the custom themes. I won’t actually go into details here, but will later post details on the creation of the library’s theme. I have already talked about the options I implemented in the post about Branding the Library Website.

I will note that we avoided making a ‘mobile’ theme by making the themes responsive. They’re not the prettiest, but at least they work.

I did have to make a standard template to use for our non-WordPress sites, including the ILS, Special Collections, and ColdFusion stuff.

Roles & Capabilities

All the sites use the default Roles & Capabilities, except for the main site. Using the Advanced Access Manager plugin, I changed the permissions so that:

  • Administrators: Due to the Carousel plugin, some staff were made administrators, but with restrictions at the user (rather than role) level to have similar permissions as editors.
  • Editors: have unfiltered html (using the Unfiltered MU plugin)
  • Authors: can also edit/publish pages and delete own pages, moderate comments to own posts
  • Contributors: can edit/publish pages (instead of posts) and delete own pages, and add/edit/delete own media

Pages that have JavaScript or custom CSS are also locked down so that only editors and administrators have access.

Migrating the Existing Sites

We migrated from static HTML sites and single install WordPress blogs (I don’t know why this wasn’t a MultiSite to begin with).

WordPress Sites

For WordPress sites, I used the standard export/import that you have to install, but is integrated into the core. The one problem is that in MS, if you import images, it will copy the images over with the metadata, but will not update the links in the posts themselves (see ticket #16404). To solve this problem, I used the Search and Replace plugin to change all the old links to the new ones in one go.

HTML Sites

We settled on using the HTML Import 2 plugin. It worked well, especially since it supports Dreamweaver templates, which were used with most of our pages. It didn’t catch all the links, so we had to update some of them manually, but using the Search & Replace plugin helped a great deal.

The other thing that took a bit of time was to replace thumbnail images with the WP version and delete the original thumbnails. My coworker also uploaded all the images with the thumbnail crop option on, so I used the AJAX Thumbnail Rebuild plugin to force WordPress to recreate all the thumbnails.

Updating the Site

As with any move, it’s a good opportunity to update the site. Unfortunately, we had too tight a timeline to update the content and organization of the site (except for some minor changes). As a result, the site looks more or less the same, but I updated and coordinated the updating of a lot of the code.

I consolidated the CSS files, updated the template to use HTML5 and meet WCAG2.0, and most time intensive of all, got rid of all layout tables (with some other staff helping).


Here is the list of the plugins I ended up with including those to help with migration:

For reasons why I may have chosen some of these plugins, take a look at my other posts on WordPress plugins.

Oh The Time

So, the most time intensive part really is sifting through WordPress plugins and updating content.

Getting Staff on Board and Using a CMS: Moving to WordPress

The hardest part of moving any website is getting staff trained and changing their workflow to actually use the CMS. We previously had a static HTML type site, so everyone would email changes to one or two people. It was a big shift to suddenly have people take care of their own content.

As part of the training session, I briefly reviewed why we moved the website to a CMS and more importantly, how it benefits our patrons. It covered the usual, shifting resources and staff time, less maintenance, keeping content current, etc.


I found the best WordPress tutorials for staff were the support articles related to creating content. The only differences come from the plugins that are installed, but in our case, this only affects the “Upload/Insert” section above the editing area.

We also have access to video tutorials, so I suggested the relevant sections (5 + 6) of the WordPress Essential Training.

I also wrote up a short blurb on how to check for broken links in a more visual way (and for our non-WordPress pages). I basically referred them to install and use LinkChecker (a Firefox plugin).

Content Guidelines

In addition to training staff on the actual CMS, I wrote two sets of guidelines for them to follow.

  1. General Guidelines on ‘Writing for the Web’
  2. Using WordPress to Make Content Accessible (to come in a future post)

To make it easy for staff to use, I wrote it as a page on the intranet (with anchor links for a short table of contents), and also made a PDF version for them to easily print it off.

Making Staff Responsible

I think the most important step in shifting web content management from a single team to the entire staff is assigning responsibility. If no one “owns” a page, it will not be regularly reviewed. If you assign ownership, at least it increases the chance of that happening. Here are the short blurb I wrote on staff’s responsibility of content:

Page Ownership Responsibilities

While you may delegate the task of creating or updating content on any page you own, you are ultimately responsible for it. This includes:

  • Content is up to date
  • Content, especially audio/visual, conform to Accessibility Guidelines
  • Copyright is cleared for all content (if applicable)
  • Transferring ownership when needed (long term leave, end of term)

Please Note: When links are found to be broken, you will automatically be notified via e-mail. However this is not a full-proof system as many broken links will not be “marked” broken. See the ‘How to Check for Broken Links’ page for more information.

Assigning Ownership

We explicitly mention that editing of pages can be delegated, because we decided that librarians would be responsible for pages. We identified and changed each page’s author to the librarian who would become the owner.

We still have about a dozen pages outstanding in which our team maintains as needed, but we also expect that staff may edit it if they find mistakes.

The Result

So far, it’s been fairly successful (yay!). While I get calls on occasion for help, staff seem to be finding it easier to use than Drupal (which we have for our intranet), and most seem to have no problems using it.

Content on a lot of pages are being updated, though as always, it really depends on the owner. One of the problems is that we migrated the existing pages, and there’s a lot of overlap in information, which we really need to consolidate. So, making the website better as a whole will take a bit more time, but at least content is now being updated on a more regular basis.

Getting Quick Feedback: Updating the Help Page

In the past month or so, it became very evident to many of the librarians that the research help page on our site needed to be revamped. As we’ll be piloting a new “Book a Librarian” service next month, I thought it would be a good time to roll out a new help page as well.

Old Research Help Page

There were so many problems with this page, not least of which was that the page and the sidebar had the exact same links only in a different order.

We had a bit of a tight timeline, since I essentially had 3-4 weeks to make mockups, discuss it with the group, get feedback from staff and students, make the page, and get it live.

Getting Quick Feedback

Part 1: The “Committee”

It wasn’t a formal committee, but it was essentially an ad hoc working group. I presented all three mockups to the group. If the group couldn’t agree on one, then I would have taken two of the mockups to staff and students for feedback. However, since the group felt quite strongly about mockup #3, I decided to go ahead with that mockup to gather feedback.

Part 2: Asking the Students – Survey

I decided to do two versions of the mockup based on the meeting’s discussions. Mockup #4 is exactly the same as mockup #3 except with the chat widget in the middle.

Mockup #4

We taped the mockups on a movable whiteboard and offered candy as incentive. We pulled students aside as they walked past on the main floor and asked them some basic questions on:

  • how easy it is to find what they’re looking for,
  • whether they understood all the terms, and
  • which design they preferred and why.

We had decided on getting however many students we could in an hour. Since it was a quieter day, we ended up with 7 students.

Part 3: Asking the Staff – Open “Silent Forum”

In order for all staff to have a chance to provide feedback, without having to gather them all together, we decided to post the mockups in the staff room with a couple of questions to think about (similar to the student ones). Sticky note pads and a pen were left for staff to write their comments.

The Results

Of the students we asked, more of them preferred #3 with the chat on the side, because they would never use it. On the other hand, the students who preferred #4 thought the right-side chat widget would be ignored or even mistaken as an ad. Other reasons for #4 included:

  • balanced and symmetrical
  • more aesthetically pleasing
  • better division of groupings
  • helps to promote the Ask chat service

Of the staff that provided feedback, they unanimously chose #4 for many of the same reasons that students provided.

Other feedback resulted in my adding:

  • a header for the chat widget,
  • “Hours & privacy policy” link for chat widget,
  • hover behaviour for chat widget,
  • tooltip text for “TRSM”, and
  • changing the wording of “YouTube” to avoid branding.

While we could’ve gotten more feedback, I think we got enough to help improve the page and implicit confirmation that it works.

New Research Help Page


The page, along with the new “Book a Librarian” service and a revised “Research Help Services” page is set to go live on Oct 1.

We will likely also be changing the “Ask Us” logo in the header to direct to this page as opposed to the “Contact Us” page as it does now. Hopefully, it’ll help to promote our services and resources, and get people to the right place.

Ryerson Going Google with Google Apps: The Run Down

UPDATE: See my more recent blog post if you’re looking for my supplement materials (to the Ryerson Google site) on sync’ing Google Apps.

I attended a session to address concerns with privacy and security concerns in adopting Google apps at the university. Half of the session was actually a general how to protect your own information and your responsibilities as a user. I’ll focus more on the project itself than the second half since there’s a ton of resources about protecting your information already out there.

Google Apps

For the implementation, Sada Systems will be dealing with the actual implementation and migration. Roll out will be done in stages starting with the first four, and the rest will have to go through the evaluation process first.

  • mail
  • calendar
  • docs/drive
  • contact
  • chat
  • mobile
  • sites
  • app engine
  • plus
  • video


  • Faculty and students will have an opt-in option for mail.
  • Staff, however, will be migrated (i.e. not optional).
  • Everyone will be moved to calendar in order to be rid of Groupwise (yay!).
  • Everyone will still keep their so there is no change in the email address itself.

Timeline & Next Steps

In a nutshell, there is none, and that’s because the legal agreement hasn’t actually been signed yet.

Once it does get signed, then alpha testing will be done with the CCS group (central IT) and then beta testing with a larger community group. They’re still hoping for a fall rollout though.

Legal Concerns

Most privacy and security concerns revolved around lawful access and warrantless searches with storing data in the US. It was explained that basically, it doesn’t make a difference. Canada has similar legislation and the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (with many countries) is a binding agreement to share information under lawful access or warrantless searches, which means the same thing will happen if your data is stored in any of the countries part of the agreement.

Privacy & Data Protection

To alleviate some concerns, the organizing group assured everyone that a Privacy Impact Assessment is done using the international standard, Privacy in Design and ensures that there are no breaches to:


  • all incoming mail goes through the university servers first
  • not opting in means that email stays on the university servers
  • opting in means the emails are then sent and stored on Google servers
  • students emails will not be visible in the global (internal?) address list
  • minimum identifying information (username, name) is used for authentication
  • drives/docs is private by default
  • calendars display only free/busy by default (as in Groupwise right now)

As I mentioned, in the second half of the presentation, we were all reminded that most email/information/data breaches are due to users, not email systems or hardware, and that email is not secure (although they’re looking into encryption for sensitive information). We got the usual spiel on our responsibilities not to include sensitive information in emails, having secure passwords, being careful of phishing, making sure websites use https, etc.

We’ll see how quickly they get things going, but I’m sure many staff will be happy to get rid of Groupwise (which likes to crash at least a couple of times a week and cancels shut down) at the very least.

For more updates, there is a dedicated blog for project updates.

TRY 2012: Mobile Device Loans at the Library


  • Mandissa Arlain – RULA
  • Monique Flaccavento – OISE Library, UTL
  • Ricardo Laskaris – YorkU Libraries
  • Fangmin Wang – RULA
  • Jenaya Webb – OISE Library, UTL

Loaning Device

  • Laptops
  • iPads (with covers & cables) at OISE
  • York also provides many other gadgets & accessories
  • most 4 hour loans (York 1-4 days), restricted to university community


  • posters
  • social media: twitter, facebook, blog
  • LCD screens
  • website
  • branding of bags


  • iPad > laptop at OISE
  • 12.5% of circulation stats at Ryerson
  • laptops & iPads at York


  • sign waiver first time
  • replacement fee for losts
  • personal data cleared by deep freeze software once powered down
  • iPads cleared manually (~20 minutes each time) whenever returned
  • theft reported to security & IT
  • repairs sent to IT

Staffing Considerations

  • training sessions for staff including hands on experience
  • basic use and troubleshooting help
  • technical support & issues to IT
  • working group meeting to discuss issues
  • chargers with devices

Financial Support

  • education commons as pilot project at OISE
  • library itself & one-time funding from provost office to upgrade at Ryerson
  • library paid & some donations at York
  • apps purchased with gift card so as not to associate credit card #

Software & Apps Selection

  • laptop software same as what’s on desktop
  • productivity apps e.g. Dropbox
  • educational
  • preferred free, but some money to purchase apps

Age & Replacement Schedule

  • no formal refreshment cycle
  • mostly depends on budget, try to repair existing laptops
  • replacements determined by IT

User Feedback

  • informally, anecdotal
  • from student committee
  • studies planned for future: focus groups, survey

Future Directions

  • meeting demands, so unlikely to expand
  • no money to expand
  • future to encourage students to bring their own devices


Code4lib Day 2: How People Search the Library from a Single Search Box

by Cory Lown, North Carolina State University

While there is only one search box, typically there are multiple tabs, which is especially true of academic libraries.

  • 73% of searches from the home page start from the default tab
  • which was actually opposite of usability tests

Home grown federated search includes:

  • catalog
  • articles
  • journals
  • databases
  • best bets (60 hand crafted links based on most frequent queries e.g. Web of Science)
  • spelling suggestions
  • loaded links
  • FAQs
  • smart subjects

Show top 3-4 results with link to full interface.

Search Stats

From Fall 2010 and Spring 2011, ~739k searches 655k click-throughs

By section:

  • 7.8% best bets (sounds very little, but actually a lot for 60 links)
  • 41.5% articles, 35.2% books and media, 5.5% journals, ~10% everything else
  • 23% looking for other things, e.g. library website
  • for articles: 70% first 3 results, other 30% see all results
  • trends of catalogue use is fairly stable, but articles peaks at the end of term

How to you make use of these results?

Top search terms are fairly stable over time. You can make the top queries work well for people (~37k) by using the best bets.

Single/default search signals that our search tools will just work.

It’s important to consider what the default search box doesn’t do, and doubly important to rescue people when they hit that point.

Dynamic results drive traffic. When putting few actual results, the use of the catalogue for books went up a lot compared to suggesting to use the catalogue.

Collecting Data

Custom log is being used right now by tracking searches (timestamp, action, query, referrer URL) and tracking click-throughs. An alternative might be to use Google Analytics.

For more, see the slides below or read the C&RL Article Preprint.

UBC Education Library Redesign

This is another assignment, this time from Planning and Design class. Our assignment was essentially to redesign a space. I decided to do a minimal, practical redesign for the Education Library. Although I did send the library a copy, the project reflects my personal views and was not commissioned by UBC Library, etc. (insert usual disclaimer). Finally, please note that the letter introducing the report and appendices are only available in the full report (which if you want a copy/see, you’ll have to e-mail me) as it is a long enough post already without them and the appendices include some copyrighted photos.

If you find the report too long to read, check out the presentation design board that I made instead (or do both!):

Education Library Redesign on Prezi

Purpose & Goals

This report makes recommendations for changes to the University of British Columbia (UBC) Education Library in order to provide greater access and a better environment for its users. The proposal was encouraged by the demands and comments by various users. While users are primarily Faculty of Education students (undergraduate and graduate), users include any person who walks into the library including faculty, community users, and staff. While community users frequently include alumni and working professionals, recently, there has been an increase of families with children using the library, especially on weekends, and such usage is likely to continue to increase with the expansion of housing on and near the university campus.

The propositions and goals of the redesign are based on observations and interactions with users while taking into account the constraints on staff, budget, space, and technology. Some of the common requests and complaints include:

  • not enough computer workstations,
  • lack of express use station with Internet access,
  • lack of quiet study (that is actually quiet), and
  • confusing layout of materials.

Other recommendations are based on observations rather than direct comments from users. The goals of the redesign focus on making better use of the existing space and thus, recommendations are made to fulfill the following goals:

  • create defined spaces with a clear purpose to each space within the library,
  • increase navigation, access, and use by consolidating collections,
  • maximize the use of natural lighting, and
  • meet users’ needs.


Meeting users’ needs and providing for library users are core to the vision and mission of the library. Meeting the redesign goals will assist in moving the Education library towards fulfilling the goals of the library’s strategic plan, particularly in providing excellent access, service, and an open, inclusive environment. The redesign goals are beneficial to both library patrons and staff.

  • Creating defined spaces:
    • provides a clear purpose to a space,
    • decreases amount of noise in quiet study areas, and
    • delineates which areas noise is allowed versus quiet study.
  • Increasing navigation, access, and use by consolidating collections:
    • allow for better wayfinding and greater efficiency for both patrons and staff,
    • provide a more intuitive layout to the library,
    • decrease the number of directional questions, and
    • increase use and security of resources.
  • Maximizing the use of natural lighting:
    • contributes to aesthetic,
    • has positive psychological effects,1 and
    • instills the sense of an open environment.

Overall, library users’ satisfaction and library use should both increase.

Constraints & Solutions

The recommendations have been written based on current constraints, including:

  • lack of funding,
  • minimal staff resources,
  • technology determined by central library IT, and
  • use of the existing space.

To work around these restrictions, the recommendations are based on minimizing spending and contract or outsourcing by reusing furniture and equipment where possible (see Appendix A, Budget Summary), and employing the time of staff. As well, changes of higher priority are presented, while some aspects of the library work well and should not be changed, such as:

  • carpet, shelving, and other furniture are durable, mostly wood or neutral colours, and help to absorb sound,
  • lighting, which is bright and diffused, and
  • shades are already installed to control natural lighting for times when sunlight might be too glaring or hot.

Keeping interruptions to access and services for patrons was also an important consideration in creating the recommendations.

The Redesign

Defining Spaces

The library is primarily used by students (undergraduate and graduate) to work or study individually, work or study in groups, read, eat, and socialize. It is important for students and other users to know which areas are appropriate for which activities. However, the current layout of the library confuses readers as spaces are diffused and spread out. In particular, group study areas are next to or in the same space as quiet study areas, such as in the Course Reserve Area, which has study carrels next to the copiers, and the Lower Level Area, which has workstations in study carrels in the group study area (see original floor plans in Appendix B). Noise also becomes a major issue as the upper level is open to the lower level (see Appendix B Redesigned Upper Level), thus allowing sounds from the group study area on the lower level to disturb the quiet study on the upper level. The lack of defined spaces also causes problems for staff as they cannot take action if there are complaints about patrons that are, in fact, using the space appropriately.

In order to create defined spaces of which users can understand the purpose without needing signage, similar types of furniture should be used in a single area. The Lower Level Area should have all large tables removed with only study carrels (with or without computers). Similarly, the study carrels in the Course Reserve Area and Workstations area should be removed. To encourage group work in the Workstations Area, the reference collection should be moved to make more room for group tables, and the computers currently in carrels would be on long tables and spaced, allowing multiple people to work on a single computer (see Appendix B Redesigned Upper Level). To minimize the costs of new furniture, the existing furniture can simply be moved around (see Appendix A for details). While signage can be used to assist in the use of the spaces, the type of furniture and their layout would be enough to signal to users which areas are for quiet study and which areas are for group work.

Reading areas would likewise be defined by the use of reading chairs, but would be placed next to windows in order to maximize the use of natural lighting, such as in the Journals Stairway Area and the Lower Level CCBC Area. The one major change needed is to shift the CCBC collection away from the window to allow more space for the reading chairs to create a ‘cozier’ space (see Appendix B Redesigned Lower Level). The reading areas are also purposely kept near non-circulating collections that patrons may want to read while in the library.

Consolidating Collections

In addition to creating defined spaces, consolidating collections will assist in providing a more intuitive layout for better wayfinding, navigation, access, use, and efficiency. Mainly, patrons have difficulty finding new journal issues as the display is in the Course Reserves Area, and not clearly visible, while the rest of the journals are in the upper level stacks area. It is highly recommended to move the journal display next to the journal stacks area. Furthermore, the reference and historical collections should be moved to the Course Reserve Area for greater security (behind another security gate) as well as to have all the smaller collections in a single area (see Appendix B Floor Plans). With this setup, only the books, videos, journals, and CCBC collection will be outside of the Course Reserve Area, providing a simpler layout and possibly decreasing the number of directional questions.

Increasing Access

Further to defining space and consolidating collections, other changes can be made to increase access and use to the library, its collections, and resources. For example, one of the most common concerns patrons seem to have is the number of computer workstations for use, especially for the purposes of printing. Therefore, it is recommended that one of the standing height computers be changed to an express station for printing and quick use. As well, two additional computers can be added on the Lower Level for quiet work.

One way to increase access and better navigation is to improve flow of pedestrian traffic. For example, notices are currently taped on the security gate as well as put on signs in various places. If patrons stop to read the notices, the entrance and exit may be blocked. Thus, the purchase of an announcement board is highly recommended to be placed in the small niche area next to the security gates (see Appendix A and B for details). Similarly, a book display currently sits in the niche (where patrons are unlikely to want to stop to read), another book display is currently next to computers (preventing student use of the table space), and a third book display is in a trophy case (which makes the books inaccessible). Purchasing a new book display will not only allow greater accessibility to books, but will also enhance the use of the space and encourage patrons to stop and read (see Appendix A for details).

Some areas of the library are currently also underused, but the most likely reason is because they are cluttered with furniture. To increase use and access, unused furniture should be removed, such as the locker and shelving in the Journals Stairway Area, and the extra reading chairs in the Lower Level CCBC Area (see Appendix A and B for details). Staff should also make sure not to put portable furniture, such as book carts, in patron used areas. In particular, the Journals Stairway Area is rather narrow, and though optional, it is highly recommended to change the new issues display to a slat wall display for optimal space usage, and easy access (see Appendix A for details). Ideally, users will feel welcome and comfortable using any of the spaces for reading and studying.

Implementation – User Input & Assessment

When implementing any redesign, users should have input into the recommendations as the mission and vision of the library are focused on providing for and supporting users. Current recommendations have been made based on patron feedback, however, further user input should be gathered to ensure that the redesign is aligned with users’ priorities. Different methods can be used to collect data, such as surveys, focus groups, and interviews. Considering the constraints on resources and time, surveys are recommended for easier scoring and taking up less staff time to facilitate.

Based on user input, recommendations can be added or changed to better address patrons’ needs and priorities. The study should include questions on access, use of resources, use of space, and navigation, such that a similar study can be conducted afterwards with some of the same questions to compare with pre-design answers to measure whether the goals of the project are achieved.

In addition, should the project prove to be successful, the assessment can be used as proof to administration and potential donors to the library to fund further improvements and a larger redesign project.

Possible Further Improvements

As the changes presented take current constraints into consideration, many possible further improvements are recommended in the longer term, particularly with more funding. While not an exhaustive list, possible further improvements include:

  • Purchase of new chairs that are more ergonomic with adjustable seat and height in a neutral colour, such as black, that match redesigned library branches (such as UBC Law Library) and do not distract patrons’ attention (which may be the case with the current strong colours of red and green) (see Appendix C).
  • Ensure computers, especially mice and keyboards, in the quiet study areas are near silent, and purchasing replacements if necessary (see Appendix C).
  • Paint cement walls to remove the ‘cement bunker’ feel.

Consultation will be needed for improvements that require more expert advice and analysis, such as:

  • improving temperature control,
  • minimizing noise from the stairway, and
  • improving the colour scheme.

Currently, the colour scheme uses the additive primary colours of red, green, and blue. However, design colour theory is based on the traditional red, yellow, blue subtractive primaries model.In addition, psychological primary colours suggest that red and green are antagonistic to each other and should not be used together as the human visual system does not respond well to both at the same time.3 As the library already uses a fair amount of neutral and wood colours, the existing blues can be added to with other blues to create a calm and comfortable mood.4 The resulting scheme, may look similar to the following:5
IndigoSilver Colour Scheme
Blue may also be a good choice as it is the UBC school colour. Nevertheless, the particular blues need to be carefully chosen as not to create a cold or depressing colour scheme.6

Future Outlook

Ultimately, the redesign and its goals are to assist the library in fulfilling its mission and vision. While there are many restrictions currently preventing a full redesign, many improvements can still be made to the Education Library with minimal investment. The success of the project should be measured through the use of assessment tools before and after changes, and if successful, the library can garner support from administration and donors to make further augmentations or a full redesign. The space is somewhat flexible and should be planned to accommodate changing and future user demographics and needs, particularly due to rapid growth in technology and campus housing, which may bring more families into the Education library. Thus, more planning should be completed in order to ensure alignment with the strategic plan in the years to come.

Works Cited Endnotes

Note (Sep 2018): All the links appear to be broken. The sites still work but lead to 404s.
1. Chase, C. & Hiltz, S. (2011). Lighting [Class handout]. LIBR 578, School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
2. Tuberman, L. (2008). Color theory.
3. Foster, M. (1897). A text book of physiology. California: Macmillan.
4. Chan, F. & Rocheleau, N. (2011). Colour theory [Class handout]. LIBR 578, School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
5. Indigosilver. (2011). Indigosilver2. ColorSchemer Gallery.
6. Tuberman, L. (2008). Color characteristics.

Reference Gone Mobile Notes – ALPS December Meeting

Presented by panelists Debra Flewelling (Douglas College), Nicole Gjertsen (Simon Fraser University) and Joyce Wong (Langara College).

  • 93% students use phone for texting

Phone Based Service

This is where a library buys a phone and plan and passes the phone from librarian to librarian (whomever is on duty).


  • cheap cost


  • no statistics
  • cumbersome
  • asynchronous means a student might reply hours later when another librarian has the phone

Might start with phone as beta service, but will usually move to software based.

Software Based Service

Users send texts, which are then turned into emails sent to librarians. The reply emails are sent back to students as texts. Different setup options are available, such as shared or dedicated numbers.


  • little or no change to workflow
  • automated message sent if unavailable
  • can do mass messaging campaigns
  • courtesy notice option


  • more expensive

Upside Wireless

  • somewhat of a monopoly in Canada
  • can share number or shortcut but needs – user needs to precede text with a specific word (e.g. Douglas or Langara)
  • dedicated line – more expensive, but more messages and dedicated

Some Statistics


dedicated phone and staff

  • 50% facilities/how/where
  • 22% ref/citation
  • rest known item/technology


recently extended hours
auto response with askaway or desk’s phone number if closed

  • 20% directional
  • 50% known item
  • 30% ref
  • 8am-6pm typically
  • few questions on weekends, but open
  • ~10 mins response time
  • ref questions usually referred to subject/liaison librarian


  • must be careful of message size limit
  • should have quick turnaround time
  • may point to where can find answer instead of give answer
  • best practices and guidelines including local polices
  • need to work out workflow
  • might bring in other staff to answer non-reference questions


  • keyword campaign – users text keyword to number to enter prize draw
  • posters and banners
  • tabletop mini-posters
  • social media of institution
  • website, especially mobile site
  • powerpoint slide for liaison libraries to add to their presentations
  • article or ads in student paper
  • QR codes
  • word of mouth

Can ask students where they found out about the service.