Students visiting the Yale University Library home page will now see a very different website from the one available online over the past several years.
The new home page, launched in early January, aims to help students and faculty find research materials quickly and easily, said Andrew Predmore, web operations manager for the library, adding that the new page will also work better with mobile devices and will represent all of Yale’s libraries rather than just the largest ones. One of its new features is Study Space Scheduling, a “self-service” online system in which students and faculty can book a room ahead of time for a meeting or study session in one of Yale’s libraries. Predmore, who has been working on the new site since last February, said he designed it with the intention of making it more intuitive than the previous website, adding that the new webpage requires fewer clicks to access various library resources than the old website did.
“We were trying to take the things that were most used by students and faculty and make them more prominent on the website,” said Kathleen Bauer, the library’s director of usability and assessment.
Bauer said the new website is less cluttered and prominently displays the parts of the library that students and faculty access most, according to library data. She added that the library created the study space booking system because students complained that they could not reserve study spaces in advance. Bauer said the site, which is not moderated and requires just a Yale email address to make a reservation, has only received a handful of bookings so far, but she added that she expects the volume to increase as midterm season comes around.
Apart from the bookings site, the new library homepage also features a list of study spaces on campus created in order to help students find alternate study spots on campus while Sterling Memorial Library undergoes renovation, Predmore said. Though the “study places” page currently only includes rooms in Sterling and Bass, Bauer said it will soon include more rooms in other libraries. She added that students will also be able to sort by criteria such as proximity to computers, printers or coffee.
In order to design the new website, Bauer said librarians conducted a series of testing sessions with students this fall, adding that the tests used “paper prototypes” of the new website until they could move onto the computer. Students gave useful feedback about the usefulness of various features of the website, Predmore said, adding that he also used data from Google Analytics, which tracks page views and the number of times users click on various parts of a website, to create the new home page with “students’ needs” in mind.
“We are constantly evaluating what works and what doesn’t,” Predmore said, adding that the new website is built in a way that allows him and other library staff to tweak small sections of the webpage without disrupting the rest of the site.
Though the library has plans to continue improving its website, the Orbis catalog, which members of the Yale community use to reserve library books, will likely remain the same, Predmore said. He added that he must exercise greater care when changing aspects of the Orbis site, as many professors and researchers have grown accustomed to and depend on its current functionality.
Five of eight students interviewed were unaware of the new website, and those that had used it were split about whether it is an improvement over the old version.
“Once I have something figured out, I’d rather keep the format I know,” Kara Fikrig ’15 said.
Librarians announced the creation of the study space reservation site on Jan. 23.