Friday, May 22, 2009

new and improved web site!

Jeez. Who knew that summer could be so busy? Fortunately, there's a three-day weekend coming up!

Here's something you can do over the weekend if you discover that 72 hours of unabated freedom is too much for your sanity: check out the new, improved!

Let me take you on a tour. Although you can certainly refer to the diagram below, I strongly suggest that you open a new window with the website in it as you read along; the diagram is just to save me the trouble of saying things like, "Now, the top box in the middle -- not the one with the pictures, the one below that, below the line where it says 'Gallaudet University Library,' I think it's called 'Research Help' or something like that, yeah ... "

Okay. Let's go.

1 - Shortcuts to ALADIN
Our most exciting new feature. You can now search ALADIN directly from our home page without having to click through to the catalog twice. Excellent for quick searches or just getting started on a long, winding research journey. We also offer a list of subject areas for our databases, so you can go straight to the Psychology databases only seconds after you hit our site. Below that are some links to our e-Journals, the e-Journals available at other Consortium schools and, of course, myALADIN.

2 - About the Library
Links to information about, of course, the Library. Hours, directions, floor maps, and staff pages are all here, as well as ... huh. There's a link to this blog in that box. Did I just feel the universe folding in on itself or have I just had too much coffee?

Probably too much coffee. I just got a new coffeemaker and I've been sucking down six cups a day. In my defense, it is of the Dunkin' Donuts brand.

Anyway, as you can see (if you're also looking at the actual web page), this section is not quite complete -- and it's not the only one that isn't. We're working on it, and you will see us tweaking the website here and there over the course of the summer as we all (including students and faculty) get used to this new setup.

Moving on:

3 - Research Help
Links to various guides and pathfinders to our collection, designed to -- hopefully -- make research easier. Our Deaf Research Help area has been reorganized a bit, but it is still the area you want to visit if you're looking for information about famous Deaf people or the statistics of deafness or, really, almost anything else you can think of. There are also links to subject-specific guides (including, eventually, LibGuides) and pages designed to help you understand and use the more commonly-used style guides when you're writing a paper, including RefWorks.

Ahh, RefWorks. That's a whole nother post, possibly sometime in the near future. Suffice it to say that if you're just not sure how to put together a citation, RefWorks is a lifesaver.

4 - Library Services
More information about our services outside of lending books and movies to Gallaudet students and faculty, as well as answers to some of the more commonly-asked questions we get about navigating our system. You can find out how to renew materials online, search for specific types of materials, or get a job at the Library. If you're a visitor, outside researcher, or in any other way not affiliated with Gallaudet University, this should be the first place you look in order to figure out where you fit in and how you can best take advantage of our services.

5 - Search Library Web
Another terrific new feature: you can now search the Library's website itself! This way, you can check to see if our website has the answer you're looking for before going to all the trouble of finding a way to contact us, especially if it's 2 in the morning and Meebo isn't rolling over when you poke it. The search box is powered by Google and also searches this blog and the Archives' website, just to cover every possible base.

6 - Chat with us!
This is the familiar Meebo chat widget you may recognize from the old website.

7 - Library News
Watch this space for new things happening around the Library and other announcements. This might be my ego talking, but it is essentially a scaled-down, formal version of this blog. If anything interesting pops up there when you visit the main Library website, head over here to see if there's any further information, which there usually will be; I'm a big fan of integration, after all.

So that's the new website. There's a lot more information available at first glance, and it might seem a little overwhelming at first -- especially considering that you're used to just a Meebo widget and a sidebar with links -- but play with it, explore a little, jab it in the ribs and see if it snaps at your fingers. You'll like it a lot more! Especially when you're in a hurry.

Question of the Week
I walked into the Library from HMB the other day and noticed the plaque about Merrill outside the door to the Library, and realized that I see lots of "Merrill Learning Center" and "MLC" and "Library," and I always thought they meant the same thing. Then I remembered that there are other things in the building, like the eLearning Lab. Is everything in the building part of the Library?
In a nutshell, not precisely. It's the other way around -- the Library is part of the building, which is occupied by Academic Technology, Library and Archives, and ASL Services (ATLAS Learning Services). The name's a bit of a mouthful (hence the very nice acronym!), because ATLAS has sort of grown together organically over the years as a group of units working together. The units are:

Academic Technology (AT): Supports classroom learning, provides technical support through the Helpdesk, offers workshops and training for students, faculty, and staff, runs Blackboard, makes videos ... a lot of stuff. Basically, if there's a piece of technology involved anywhere on campus, they're the ones to call. They're also the largest department in ATLAS, comprising four smaller subunits.

Library: Us. Obviously. Although both units work together very closely, we are distinct from the Archives because our missions are somewhat divergent. Ours is just to provide access to information, whether digital or in print. Our primary goal is to make sure the Library is capable of supporting the curriculum and meeting the needs of students, faculty, staff, and outside researchers. Few people, I think, realize that the Gallaudet University Library is a world-class research library, but it is -- and we work hard to keep it that way.

Archives: The Archives' mission is to preserve the memories of both Gallaudet itself and the deaf community in general. This includes institutional papers (like presidential memos or deaf club meeting minutes), photographs, blueprints, films, books, legal documents, machines, personal belongings, original manuscripts of deaf-related books, anything and everything. It all falls under the Archives' purview if it's deaf-related. The Archives plays a huge role in meeting researchers' needs, whether those researchers are students working on a Deaf Lit paper, faculty writing a book on Alice Cogswell, or outside researchers investigating the history of the Deaf Fraternal Order of the Upper Bronx from 1914-1934 (not real; don't look it up).

ASL Services: Short for ASL Diagnostic and Evaluation Services, this is the unit responsible for evaluating ASL proficiency in students, faculty, and staff and providing diagnostic analysis and feedback. ASL Services may be one of the most behind-the-scenes units of ATLAS; they make sure everyone can communicate with each other.

All of the above units make their home in the Merrill Learning Center; the Library is just the most visible of the four. ASL Services lives on the second floor; the Library occupies nearly all of the open space in the basement and on the first floor, plus a half-dozen classrooms and at least one auditorium; the Archives have three very large rooms to use as vaults and several smaller rooms for photography storage, genealogy research, and office space, all in the basement; and AT is all over the place, with a video archive on the second floor, offices on the first, and almost everything else in the basement -- except the Helpdesk, which is in HMB -- including the eLearning Lab and a full-on TV studio.

You'll notice that the basement houses at least some parts of three out of four ATLAS units, and those parts tend to be pretty big, like a TV studio, an auditorium, or vaults containing nearly every recoverable piece of paperwork ever generated by deaf people. It's a big place, and a big building.

It can be confusing and maze-like and nearly impossible to figure out without a decent Sherpa. Fortunately, there's a whole staff of Sherpas in the Merrill Learning Center, although here at Gallaudet, we call them "librarians." Just come to the Service Desk and ask!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments Policy

For specific questions regarding personal accounts, please do not post a public comment. The best way to get a response and maintain privacy is to e-mail or with as much detail as possible.

All comments and suggestions may be anonymous and are moderated for clarity, brevity, and appropriateness. We reserve the right to post as is, decline to post, or edit. We will not post comments that contain obscenities or otherwise lack civility and respect for any persons, groups, or this university.