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Open tape reel from Gerhard Samuel Collection, ARS.0049

During the fall of 2013, Stanford University Libraries (SUL) convened a working group to investigate the current state of access to audio and moving image materials held within its various collections, notably rare materials within its different special collections departments, along with those held at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives. 

Following many weeks of investigation, the Media Access Working Group (MAWG) produced a report in December 2013 outlining its findings, along with various recommendations to help tackle the issues discovered. The group considered issues relating to use cases, copyright status, available technologies - including media streaming, and content usage. 

Our data management services web site is all new and improved, and we invite you to check it out, have a browse, learn something new, and tell us what you think!

We have expanded the existing content, added tons of new and useful information, and reorganized everything to make it all easier for you to find and use.

A bunch of federal websites will shut down with the government, By Andrea Peterson, Washington Post, Published: September 30 at 5:28 pm. Also: The Government Printing Office (GPO) reports:

"GPO will not be updating gpo.gov, FDLP.gov, the Catalog of Government Publications, Ben’s Guide, or be responding to askGPO questions until funding is restored. The Laurel warehouse will be closed so there will be no shipments to depository libraries. Congressional materials will continue to be processed and posted to FDsys. Federal Register services on FDsys will be limited to documents that protect life and property. The remaining collections on FDsys will not be updated and will resume after funding is restored."

Sites that are down include NASA, Library of Congress, Department of Education's ERIC database, Census and USDA. Arstechnica checked 56 .gov sites and found 10 that went dark. See "Shutdown of US government websites appears bafflingly arbitrary." (Originally posted on Free Government Information blog.)

"Green plant in its pot in three different phases of growth" by palomaironique

The library website continues to grow, and with growth comes change. We are happy to announce that early next week some high priority changes to the site's architecture will go live.

Early in our user research process for the new library website, faculty and students asked us to present easy to find and consistent information about Stanford's 25 branch, auxiliary, and coordinate libraries. With such a large and complex system of locations, it was important to users, they told us, that hours, location information and basic policies were presented to them in a consistent and highly accessible format.  

Cartoon of a UX person listening to many stories. (Illustration by Calvin C. Chan).

Over the past two years, the Digital Library Systems and Services department at SUL has developed a user-centered approach to building websites.  Our methodology involves early and iterative feedback from the primary audience of SUL’s web resources – academic researchers.  The intended result is web applications that help users achieve their research goals while at the same time increasing the efficiency of the software development process (thus, lowering the time to development and the cost).  

Weight lifting pictogram by Shokunin

Our new web presence is thriving! 

Guides: The Online Experience Group is thrilled to observe the number of topic and course guides created by SUL staff, over 70 course guides and over 130 topic guides to date! The enthusiasm expressed over the ease of creating guides and adding content has been gratifying. Now that many staff have gotten their feet wet with content creation, we'd like to take this opportunity to once again emphasize adherence to the guidelines articulated in the Content Creation Guide (accessible on the Library Website Training Coursework site and under the website's "My Workbench"). Topic and course guide creators are encouraged to bring their guides into compliance with sections 4 (Style and usage); 5 (Formatting); and 6B (Guidelines specific to topic and course guides). Common errors observed include choice of title; lack of a short description to appear in aggregated search results; and use of title rather than sentence case in headings. If you have questions or need help, please submit a request through the website feedback form (http://library.stanford.edu/ask/email/feedback ). 

Training: Please note that the Drupal 7 training offered by IT Services will NOT provide you with skills directly applicable to SUL's website. Staff who need content creation training should contact Ray Heigemeir and/or Sarah Lester to schedule training sessions. 

Branches: Preparatory work on branch pages is underway for most branches. This important work includes identifying primary users and their web needs; writing new content and scrutinizing current content in light of "writing for the web" guidelines; and envisioning and charting top-level navigational structures that reflect best practices for web design. 

Bug fixes and other improvements: Academic technology is a new choice in the top ribbon, making these pages easier to find; and we continue to work with Chapter 3 on fixes and upgrades.

The new library website has been in place for over two months now, and the team has been busy receiving feedback, fixing bugs, adding new features, and planning ahead.  We have established a support contract with Chapter Three, the same firm that engineered the site initially, to provide us with a fixed number of support hours each month.  Within that allocation of support hours we first tackle critical bug fixes and then attempt to add new features to enable better service and to support content creators in their work.

October was an exciting and productive month as we added many new features that will make the site more dynamic and interactive. Major patron-facing enhancements to the site include:

  • Extensive integration of online chat throughout the site.  Online chat reference has always been available on the Ask Us page. Now individual librarians have the ability to make themselves available via chat on their People pages and Subject pages, and branches can offer branch-specific online chat to their patrons. For information on how to configure your personal or branch-specific chat service, email sul-libraryh3lp@lists.stanford.edu .
  • Events pages published and integrated with Stanford Events.  The new Events page displays any Library event published at events.stanford.edu. If you are interested in submitting events that will appear in the library events feed, please send us a note via the website feedback form.  
  • Staff Directory. By popular demand, a full staff directory is now available. You can search and filter by name, title or department.  The data in the directory comes directly from publicly visible contact information StanfordWho, and reflects staff privacy settings in StanfordYou

Enhancements supporting content creation include: 

  • Spell-check has been added to WYSIWYG for all content types. 
  • Guide authors can now add simple formatting (bold, italics, and hyperlinking) to the annotations field of SearchWorks items. 

In addition to these technical improvements, the Library Website Steering Group was assembled and held its first meeting.  This group will play a critical role in prioritizing future improvements to the site, and establishing policies and best practices. 

November and December hold promise for other new and exciting advances, including Department, Research Service and Special Project mini-sites. Stay tuned, and Happy Thanksgiving! 

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