UX Roadtrip to Harvard’s User Research Lab

Harvard User Research Lab at the Lamont Library

In June, staff from LIT and ITS, traveled to Harvard’s Lamont Library to visit Harvard’s User Research Lab. Jenn Nolte, Emerging Digital Services Librarian, and Taber Lightfoot,  Manager of  ITS User Experience and Digital Strategy, and  Sylvia Perez, UX Researcher also at ITS User Experience and Digital Strategy, made the trip together to Cambridge. They met with Amy Deschenes, the Senior UX Consultant for Harvard Library. Amy was integral in establishing the User Research Lab at Harvard.

The purpose of Yale’s UX tour was to visit a dedicated User Research Lab embedded inside a library. The Harvard Lab provides a space for usability testing, interviews, and focus groups. The Lab is divided into three rooms: one room with cubicles for individual participant studies; a conference room for focus groups; and a testing room with dedicated workstations for eye tracking, accessibility training, and moderated usability tests.

Harvard’s User Research Lab annual workload is two large UX  projects, while running three-to-four smaller projects concurrently. IT Staff and  Library Staff on campus are serviced by the Lab. Their Usability testing pool is pulled from student workers. The trip was very informative and instructive on how other university library’s embed user research labs.

HathiTrust Enhanced Access for Yale Users with Print Disabilities

Students with print disabilities now have enhanced access to an additional selection of digitized books through the HathiTrust. Yale University Library in partnership with the Resource Office on Disabilities are both pleased to announce the availability of this new service. Through its partnership with HathiTrust, Yale has access to millions of items through the HathiTrust Digital Library, however materials that are in-copyright or restricted are not available to our community by default.  Access to this restricted content has been made available through a recent legal ruling.  Instructions and further details about the service can be found here – http://web.library.yale.edu/hathitrust-access-yale-users-print-disabilities.
Thanks to Judy York, Carolyn Barrett, Anthony Kulikowski, and Rob Rocke from the Resource Office on Disabilities, and to John Gallagher, Katie Bauer, Cindy Greenspun, and Steve Wieda from the Yale University Library.

Minutes from the 6/15 UXAC

Decisions from the 6/15/2015 User Experience Advisory Committee meeting:

  • A list has been compiled to determine the next steps for the Subject Specialists pages.  The Committee will consider:
    • Including links to the staff directory
    • Indication that the departments being searched are academic departments and not library departments
    • Including a chat widget
    • Inclusion of special collections staff and archivists
    • Inclusion of degree programs from professional schools
  • A collaborative session to explore ways to present Quicksearch in instruction will be planned for the first week of August.
  • The LibCal project will be postponed to roll out in January; the LibAnswers project will be moved forward to start in July.
  • Exhibition-related information on the website will be inventoried, analytics will be reported, and a proposal for increasing exposure of exhibition-related information will be produced.

For more information, see the full meeting minutes available on the UXAC’s SharePoint site.

Library IT Spotlight on: User Experience Group

The User Experience Group in Library IT is the newest unit of the LIT department. It was formed with the express purpose of keeping our patrons’ needs at the forefront of all library digital projects. The work of the group is focused on major library digital interfaces, including:

  • The library’s web site, web.library.yale.edu. The web site is maintained in a Drupal content management system. We use a Yale wide Drupal instance called YaleSites.
  • Major vendor-provided services such as Springshare’s products Libguides (Library subject guides), and Libcal (room scheduling and hours).
  • Search interfaces such as Orbis and Articles+. A large amount of the group’s work has recently involved Quicksearch, a Blacklight search combining records from the Orbis and Morris catalogs, along with records from Articles+.
  • In support of these interfaces the group does usability testing and tracks metrics. 

Within this new group we have a very new position of an Emerging Digital Analyst. With this new addition we are adding communication and staff support to our portfolio of work.

The UX Group recently had time to do some strategic planning, and we reflected on the purpose of our group, our priorities and also feedback we received through the LIT Satisfaction Survey. From those reflections we’ve formed some guiding principles. In our efforts we will

  • work collegially with all library staff
  • communicate in multiple ways, and give staff opportunities to give us feedback
  • strive to meet deadlines, and acknowledge honestly when we cannot 
  • focus on a service model as opposed to a project model, and include planning for ongoing support when work is completed
  • use metrics to guide decisions
  • work to be trusted experts in user experience

We invite you to contact any of the staff listed here with your questions and comments. We would like to hear from you.

User Experience Staff

Katie Bauer (kathleen.bauer@yale.edu)

User Experience Librarian

I’m the manager of the UX group, and also focus on usability, Google Analytics and metrics for digital interfaces. Originally from upstate New York, I grew up in a very rural area in a pretty large family with three brothers and a sister. I went to college at Mount Holyoke and studied mathematics, which I continued in a master’s program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where I earned an M.S in Applied Mathematics. I taught math for several years before going into a librarianship program at SUNY Albany. I’ve been at Yale for 17 years in various positions in the library system.

I’m married and have two grown children in college. I live in Hamden with my husband and two dogs, and spend much of my free time enjoying the outdoors taking hikes with them (when it isn’t freezing cold).

My office is in SML 510, and my phone number is 432-2491

Jenn Nolte (jennifer.nolte@yale.edu)

Emerging Digital Services Analyst

I grew up on the Connecticut coastline and have lived in CT my whole life. I earned a BA in English and Women’s Studies from Fairfield University in 2003, and my MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science) from Southern Connecticut State University in 2013.

I’ve worked in SML for 11 years now, 10 of those in the Library IT office. I came to Yale in 2004 as a Catalog Assistant in the Catalog Management Team, working on the massive OCLC Reconciliation project. A year later I moved to Library IT, where I became responsible for MARC record loads to the Orbis catalog, among other duties.

Today I am responsible for supporting Articles+, the library’s discovery interface for licensed e-resources. I co-chair the E-resource Access Group with our Electronic Resource Librarian, Angela Sidman. I am involved in implementation of the Quicksearch beta service, a unified discovery service powered by Blacklight and meant to provide a single search across several library resources at one time. I run a monthly Emerging Technologies + Libraries discussion, open to all library staff and Yale community members, and I also do a good deal of communication about LIT work, including running the departmental social media accounts and compiling and sending the LIT newsletter and the Digital Initiatives newsletter. I am on the L-SARC committee, and I am also a Personal Librarian!

My office is in SML 609 and my phone is 432 4878. Please feel free to stop by of call and say hello! I am happy to answer any questions or refer you to someone who can.

Kalee Sprague (kalee.sprague@yale.edu)

Senior Systems Librarian for Integrated Access

I am originally from Bozeman, Montana, although I lived and attended school for many years in Billings, Montana.  I earned a BA in Spanish Literature from the University of Minnesota, and my M.L.I.S. from the University of California, Berkeley.

I have worked for the Library for 18 years, first as a Database Analyst working primarily with Orbis, then as a Systems Librarian in the Programming group working with a variety of systems like Yufind, the Finding Aids database, the Orbis public interface, the new Findit digital collections system, and Quicksearch, the new Blacklight-based discovery system.

Currently I am in the User Experience group. As part of that group, I am the project manager for the Quicksearch project (http://search.library.yale.edu), coordinating the work of the Quicksearch Implementation team.  In addition, I am currently the Technical Lead on the project, using technologies like Ruby on Rails, HAML, and Javascript / CSS to mold Quicksearch to meet the needs of YUL users.  Occasionally I also work on the Findit digital collections interface.  In support of both of these projects, I chair the Discovery and Systems Metadata group, coordinating the work of metadata specialists to identify correct metadata mappings for these two projects and create guidelines like the Discovery Metadata for Digital Materials manual.  Finally, I support the production Orbis interface, the Finding Aids interface, and am a Personal Librarian.

I sit in room 609 and can be reached at 2-7845.


Meng Tang (meng.tang@yale.edu)

CIS Support Specialist

I came to Yale as an Acquisition Assistant, and later became a Cataloging Assistant.  From being a member of the Workstation Support Group to my current position in Library IT, I have had the chance to visit all the libraries, meet many people, and do many hardware and software support tasks.  I love having the chance to learn new technology and the challenge of solving problems.  I started learning the Drupal platform for the library’s website when I joined the UX group in late 2013 and am looking for any possible future benefits that this system can bring to us.

Steve Wieda (steven.wieda@yale.edu)

Senior Web Developer

I have worked with academic research libraries since 1998, serving both IT and administrative leadership roles centered on web communications and technologies.  During that time it has been my pleasure to work with amazing people on fascinating projects that have positively impacted the institutions I have served and beyond.

At the Yale University Library, I will be leading the LibGuides 2 implementation, managing the continuing migration to YaleSites, and providing consulting services for website construction, content management, usability, and accessibility.  I will also administer the YUL YaleSites/Drupal site, the Library’s various webservers, and the mailman list-servs.  In the coming months I’m looking very forward to meeting as many of you as possible.  Together we will build and maintain a fabulous web presence for the Yale University Library.

Usability Testing for QuickSearch beta

Staff from various parts of the library, including Medical, Law and Bass/Sterling have just completed a round of usability testing for Quicksearch. In this initial round of testing we wanted to look at some basic questions about this type of search, which combines results from the catalogs Orbis and Morris, and the article search from Summon called Articles+. Would students understand what was being searched? Would the Bento Box display make sense,  and would they be able to successfully navigate between the sections to find books and from the catalogs on the left and article results on the right. Would results be judged relevant to the search? Would testers understand the display of information about where to get a book or find fulltext of an article? Would testers be able to order material or email citations?

We are in the process of collating results from the first 12 tests, and we’ll be debriefing with staff who participated. We’ll follow up with a synopsis of results soon.

Here are the specific questions asked:

1. When you are starting research for a class, where would you typically start?

2. Now let’s look at the Quicksearch Beta search interface http://search.library.yale.edu  Based on what you see here, what library resources do you think Quicksearch Beta will search?

3. Have you recently done any research for a paper or class? I’d like you to try QuicksearchBeta to research this topic, or if you’d rather some other topic relating to yourmajor/discipline or just a topic of interest to you.

4. Let’s talk a little about what you see on the page. What are your initial impressions of what isdisplayed?

a. Do you find books appropriate to the topic?     b. Do you find articles appropriate to the topic? c. If you were writing a paper on this topic how satisfied would you be with these results?
5. Please see if the library has the book: “Backlash” by Susan Faludi. Where is it in the library system?
6. Please find the most recent issue of New England Journal of Medicine.
7. Please do a search and find what books and articles the library has about (choose one).
CEO compensation
Ebola hemorrhagic fever
effects of climate change on developing nations
a. Let’s look for some print books. Are any of these books about legislation/laws?
b. Please select a few books from this search. How would you save them for later use?
c. Let’s look for some articles.  Can you limit results to only scholarly publications?d. Are any of these articles about legislation/laws?
e. Please save a few articles to your list of saved items
8. Can you find a way to email the saved items to yourself?
Post test Questions
1. In the future would you use this tool? Why or why not?
2. Compare the experience of using Orbis to the Quicksearch Beta. Do you prefer one of these?
3. Compare the experience of using Articles+/Summon to Quicksearch Beta. Do you prefer one of these?
4. What did you like about Quicksearch Beta?
5. What is one thing about  Quicksearch Beta would it be most important to improve?