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Portals, Libraries, and Avoiding the Trash Bin Computers in Libraries 2005 Missy Harvey Carnegie Mellon University March 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "Portals, Libraries, and Avoiding the Trash Bin Computers in Libraries 2005 Missy Harvey Carnegie Mellon University March 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 Portals, Libraries, and Avoiding the Trash Bin Computers in Libraries 2005 Missy Harvey Carnegie Mellon University March 2005

2 Portal Development at Carnegie Mellon University Started Efforts in Fall 2001 Released Portal Fall 2003 Libraries Have Been a Major Part Enabling Libraries to Become a More Prominent and Thriving Resource Delivering Content Around the World Mistakes and Lessons Learned Libraries Involvement Along the Way

3 What is a Portal? A portal is: a dynamic customizable Web service that offers content and applications to users based on their relationship with an institution A portal provides: consistent navigation as well as a consistent interface

4 Relationships Portal Content Targets Groups of Users = (Relationship) Users May Be: Department Heads Staff in History Graduate Students in Physics Student Members of a Student Organization

5 Portlets Portal Content is Delivered in Portlets / Channels Portlets Can Be:  E-mail  Calendars  Headlines  Surveys or Forms  RSS or XML Feeds  Results of JDBC Queries  Links to Existing Web Pages

6 Portal vs. Web Site Web Site Information is Static  Every User Sees the Same Thing Portal Information is Dynamic  Determined by Who They Are  What Groups They Belong To

7 Carnegie Mellon Composition Core population is about 13,470 people:  5389 Undergraduates  4274 Graduate Students  1300 Faculty  2500 Full-Time Staff  70,000+ Alumni  Prospective Students  Research Partners

8 Distance Education 16 Distance Education Programs  Remote Campuses  Remote Sites with In-Person and Online Courses  Collaborative Programs with Other Institutions  Executive Education Programs

9 Impact on University Libraries Adequate and Timely Services Delivering Books to Faculty/Students in Remote Places Expanding our Interlibrary Loan Procedures Providing Database Services to Users Using a VPN or a Unique IP Address

10 Technical Issues Authentication / Single Sign-On  WebISO / Pubcookie  Kerberos 5  Shibboleth Scalability Unique E-Mail System  Use Existing Mail Programs  Mirrored Bboards Event Calendar Content Management System (CMS)

11 Event Calendar

12 Are Portals Really Becoming Necessary? On Our Existing Campus Web Site We Found: Information was Hard to Find People Used Bookmarks Potential Security Problems Abounded Lots of Redundant Web Work Underway Across Campus Uncoordinated Institutional Image

13 Green, K. C. 2004 National Survey of Information Technology in U.S. Higher Education.

14 Why Should Libraries Care? Disruptive Changes Being Driven By:  Cellphones  Entertainment Devices  Consumers of Content Whose Interests and Tastes are Supported by the Technology Pay Attention to How Content Is:  Created  Found, and  Used by the Self-Sufficient but also Demanding and Discerning Information Consumer and Producer

15 Why Should Libraries Care? Coordinated Management of Digital Assets of Institutions  Data Sets  e-Prints  Theses and Dissertations  Videos of lectures  More…. Content Behaviors Have Changed Potential to Increase Campus Presence

16 Resulting Vision A Unified “Digital Dashboard” of Campus Services Content Personalized To and Customized By Users An Information Management Platform for the Web An Infrastructure for University Information Management in General


18 Challenges Faced / Mistakes Made Stakeholders  Problems getting all stakeholders on campus to become involved with the project from the start  Important to involve as many as possible in portal planning and implementation  Need to encourage the need to adhere to principles and tools that allow for all units to leverage unifying technologies

19 Challenges Faced / Mistakes Made Interviewed Remote Campuses/Sites  Should have interviewed more remote campuses and sites to learn what worked and did not work for them  We brought them in later rather than earlier

20 Challenges Faced / Mistakes Made Timing  Timing is can be crucial to success  One of our colleges on campus had already developed a portal to be used by their own people

21 Challenges Faced / Mistakes Made Publishing Challenges  At the moment, most publishing of portlets has to be handled by Computing Services  This made sense initially but is causing other campus projects to be delayed  This problem is being addressed as we speak

22 Lessons Learned President/Provost Involvement  Seek assistance from them, as well as all deans, to require involvement in such a major undertaking  Entire campus needs to understand the significance

23 Lessons Learned Well-Defined Committee Structure  Set-up a well defined committee structure to oversee the portal development  Allow the committee structure to evolve as tasks are accomplished and the focus of activities change

24 Lessons Learned Good Communication  Maintain good communication lines with the entire campus about developments with the portal  One tool we use is a Web site showing tools, presentations, training, etc. 


26 Lessons Learned Invest Substantial Time Choosing Portal Software  Decide what components of the package you need to buy from the vendor and what parts you can modify or develop from scratch with your own programming staff  We chose EpiCentric / Vignette

27 Lessons Learned Collaborative Tools  Find easy and helpful collaborative tools to share communication within and between committees  We use a Wiki to share documents amongst our various subcommittees  Twiki site:



30 Lessons Learned Design from a Customer Perspective  Simple to use  Dependable and predictable  Demonstrate value (or deliver results)  Make the user more self-reliant

31 Lessons Learned Culture Change Will Be Needed  Users may need to be encourage dept. by dept. to see the potential  For those who’ve been at an institution longer, previous methods of communication and finding information are entrenched  The major trends—and challenges—are social and are profoundly changing how content is created, collected, used, shared and preserved

32 Lessons Learned Capability to Gradually Change  The portal should change as the status and the activity in it changes  Successful portals are bi-directional, enabling users to make real-time transactions, such as finding timely information, using changeable scheduling, or using financial services

33 Lessons Learned Strong Relationship Between the Library and Computing Services  Key to success  Allows for a strong library presence in portal development  Leads to improved visibility for the libraries  Opens the door for other new initiatives in the future

34 Present State (since Aug. 2004)

35 Usage by Student Group

36 What’s Ahead for the Near Future? WebForum  Comprised of various subcommittees, each assigned with various tasks  The WebForum itself meets once per semester with all webmasters / stakeholders

37 Leadership Committee Coordinate the meetings and communications of the Web Forum Carry out the recommendations of the Forum Suggest broad goals and priorities for the Web Forum Create and manage subcommittees Make tactical decisions in support of strategic goals set forth in the Forum


39 Content Management Improve the timeliness of information Improve the accuracy of information Help make information easier to find Help make Web sites and other information processes work more efficiently

40 Infrastructure Focus on the evolution of the University's Web development toolkit and backend systems


42 Marketing How do we communicate with our users? What is the purpose of that communication? How do we measure our effect? How can we improve the user's experience without compromising necessary individuality? What information do we want to gather from our collective Web services to better inform our efforts?


44 Portal What is our vision and strategy? Tactical details of development efforts Continue past work in usability Identify applications to add Look at targeting Address interface design


46 Search Determine whether we should develop and deploy an improved search system If so, recommend a solution


48 Standards and Practices How do Web professionals make best use of the university’s development toolkit? Deal with Web testing for usability and accessibility


50 Library Involvement is Key We have at least one library staff member on every subcommittee, as well as the overall Leadership Committee We seek to collaborate on initiatives that are of interest to the libraries We step up to volunteer for beta testing of applications of use in the libraries We promote the portal from our library Web site and in library instruction

51 Summary We have a lot of work we’ve completed Much more work ahead to continue to ensure the success of our campus portal development Learning from our mistakes and our lessons, you can make productive and informed decisions for your own institution You don’t want to invest and work hard at implementing a portal and then find it in the trash bin because it does not meet your needs

52 Further Reading Bell, Steven J. (2004, January). Promotion through “teachnology.” Library Journal netConnect. Available at Green, Kenneth C. (2004, October). 2004 National Survey of Information Technology in U.S. Higher Education. Available at Harvey, Melissa J. (2004, March). Opening doors: Libraries and portals. Computer in Libraries Conference. Available at Ipri, Tom & Sell, James H. (2005, Feb.). Opening the portal to better relationships. Computers in Libraries, 25(2). Lakos, Amos A. (2004, Oct./Nov.). Portals in libraries: Portal vision. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 31(1). Available at OCLC. (2004, Sept.). 2004 Information Format Trends: Content, Not Containers. Available at OCLC. (2002, June). How academic librarians can influence students’ Web-based information choices. OCLC White Paper on the Information Habits of College Students. Available at academic librarians can influence students’ Web-based information choices Sennema, Greg. (2004, Jan.). Creating an internal content management system. Computers in Libraries, 24(1). Available at

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