Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

The Development and Launch of the Headline Personal Information Environment

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

The Development and Launch of the Headline Personal Information Environment

Article excerpt

This article explains the rationale behind the development of the HeadLine Personal Information Environment (PIE). The HeadLine hybrid library model is explained and PIE is described from the user's point of view. The launch of PIE at the project's partner sites and the results of PIE's preliminary evaluation are reported. The advantages of PIE to library staff are discussed.


HeadLine (Hybrid Electronic Access and Delivery in the Library Networked Environment) is one of the Hybrid Library projects funded under the Electronic Libraries (eLib) Phase 3 program of the UK Higher Education Joint Information Systems Committee. (1) This three-year project began in 1998, is led by the London School of Economics, and has the London Business School and the University of Hertfordshire as partners.

The HeadLine project is designing and implementing a working model of the hybrid library.

   The hybrid library was designed to bring a range of
   technologies from different sources together in the
   context of a working library, and also to begin to
   explore integrated systems and services in both the
   electronic and print environments. (2)

The aims of the HeadLine project are:

* to develop the concept of the hybrid library, going beyond resource discovery to resource access;

* to establish a working model for consistent access to library materials regardless of physical form; and

* to implement the model in different types of working environments.

Each of the project's partners differs in terms of institutional size, subject area, and student population. The London Business School has one library and is based on one campus. It has business as its focus and only has postgraduates. The University of Hertfordshire has several campuses and several libraries. It covers a wide range of subjects and is mainly undergraduate. The London School of Economics has one library and one campus. It has an economics focus and students include both postgraduates and undergraduates. The project's subject focus is economics, finance, business, and management, but the portability of its hybrid library model to other subject areas will be demonstrated.

Rationale behind the Development of the HeadLine PIE

At an early stage the project identified what users would want from a hybrid library system and hence how the project's hybrid library model should be designed. Extensive research was carried out into user enquiries and expectations. Information desk enquiries were observed at each of the project's partner sites and the results of these observations were supplemented by a library staff consultation event. This explored the type of enquiries that HeadLine's hybrid library system needed to be able to handle as well as library staff perceptions of the users requirements. This research was reported in the HeadLine Report: "Analysis of Information Desk Enquiries." (3) The most frequent library enquiries have been summarized below:

1. Locational--Library users asked where to find resources such as databases and resources with a shelfmark (e.g., journals, working papers, annual reports, items on reading lists); and facilities such as photocopiers, computers with access to the Internet, toilets, etc.

2. Navigating resources--Library users needed help with choosing which resources they should use to find relevant material. They also needed help with finding out whether resources (journals in particular) were available in electronic or print form.

3. Use of the library--Users asked for information about their borrowing rights, rights to access particular resources, etc.

4. Help with using resources--Users asked where to find guides to using resources and they also asked the library staff for help.

5. Information about training events--Users asked whether they could attend a training event for a particular resource. …

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