It's a crisp new look that is already making a big difference to students looking for information at University Libraries. The new website is the culmination of a two year effort by a committee and web team that examined other library websites, carefully reviewed all pages on the old site, and put together focus groups so they could understand how students and faculty use the library website and how to make it better.

Holly Phillips, an administrator in the Dean's office led the effort and is still working on final tweaks as the website went live this morning. It can be found at http://library.unm.edu.  Phillips says they did focus groups to test the usability of the old site.  "We asked people to find their subject specialist or something and watched them in giant frustration trying to figure it out."  They did the same user testing with the new site and it prompted even more changes.

The new site incorporates suggestions from faculty and students who tried the beta site, and they are still interested in what users have to say about the new site.  One section of the front page asks for your feedback.

It should also be much easier to figure out what hours the four libraries on campus are open, who might be able to help you with your specific research question, and to live chat with a librarian if you can't find an answer to your question on the new site.

Although they had hoped to get professional assistance in reorganizing the library website, budget constraints made that impossible so staff and faculty members at the library tackled this in addition to their regular duties.  Members of the web team included Zoe Chao, Christine Sraha, Amy Jackson, Lore Townsend and Brian Freels-Stendel.

Most of the thousands of users at UNM Libraries access the journals, books and research materials online, but undergraduate students in particular spend a lot of time in the campus libraries.  "They will bring their laptops and food and just move in to the group study rooms," says Phillips.  Much of the coursework involves team activities and the link that reserves study room space is one of the most used on the entire website.

Phillips says this is phase I on the website revamp. The web team has plans for several more changes to make the site easier to use and more informative. For example they will work with the library faculty members to set up individual web pages explaining their area of expertise and ways they can assist students or faculty in researching particular topics.

University Libraries used the new web content management system being implemented by University Communication and Marketing (UCAM).

Media contact: Karen Wentworth (505) 277-5627; email: kwent2@unm.edu