MLA Annual Conference Report by Cathy Wolford

MLA 2007

The Michigan Library Association’s annual conference was November 7 through November 9, 2007.  One of the programs I attended was titled “Catalog 2.0.”  It was very informative and relevant to DALNET.  The presenters were Jackie Wrosch from Eastern Michigan University (formerly of DALNET); Krista Graham, Electronic Resources Coordinator/Reference Librarian at Central Michigan University; Dao Rong Gong, Catalog Librarian at Michigan State University, and Juliane Morian, Head of Electronic Services at Clinton-Macomb Public Library.

Jackie explained various ways that Eastern Michigan University (EMU) tries to make their OPAC more user-friendly and dynamic.  One way is to embed java script into the HTML templates that come with their OPAC. Also, an open source alternative she is investigating is from Villanova University and called VUFind. It was released this past July in beta. The library at Villanova University uses Voyager for its ILS as does EMU. VUFind has faceted searching which is becoming very popular. If you are interested in looking at some library catalogs with faceted searching try these:

North Carolina State University

Queens Library

Miami University (Ohio)

Peninsula Library System

Plymouth State University

Michigan State University (MSU) was one of the initial 13 libraries that entered a partnership initiative with Innovative Interfaces to help develop Encore, Innovative’s answer to Library 2.0. Recently Encore beta went live in Michigan State’s opac. In this MLA program, Dao Rong Gong from Michigan State University explained the development and features of Encore. Through a survey link on the Encore search page, MSU is hoping to get feedback about what users think about their searching experience with this new product. For a recent press release from Innovative concerning the launch of Encore please see this link.

Clinton-Macomb Public Library did usability tests of their library web site last August. Juliane Morian explained that their users wanted “keyword” searching taken off of the quick search and added to the advanced search. Users also requested that the font size be increased. She showed us their old home page and catalog and compared it to their new home page and catalog. The visual differences were dramatically better in their new version. She mentioned that they used contrasting colors to make items “pop.” She also configured the MeLCat search in their catalog to imitate the look and feel of the Clinton-Macomb’s library catalog. She described it as a “virtual MeLCat branch.”

Krista Graham from Central Michigan University (CMU) had two focus groups help their library determine what patrons would prefer in the library catalog. The librarians had some pre-selected catalogs to show the groups and asked what they liked and did not like about them. The consensus was that they did like spell check. The users also wanted advanced searching on the first page of the library catalog. Both Krista and Juliane agreed that when asking library users what they want in the catalog, the answers may be surprising.

There were several very interesting and informative programs at this year’s MLA conference. Next year the conference will be held at the Radisson in Kalamazoo, Michigan during October 22 through October 24, 2008.

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