Magazine article Information Today

Growing Pains

Magazine article Information Today

Growing Pains

Article excerpt

For many of us here at Information Today, Inc., Labor Day has a double meaning this year, since we have welcomed six babies--three girls and three boys--into the ITI family in 7 months. Outside work, three other friends have become first-time parents as well. Consequently, I have gotten to watch several pregnancies up close and personal, seeing firsthand all the stages the moms to-be went through--from nausea in the first trimester to feeling the baby move in the second trimester to swollen feet, hands, and everything else in the third trimester. And believe me, those morns could tell you a thing or two about "growing pains." Speaking of which, if your company or user base is on the move or undergoing some growth spurts of its own, these articles from Computers in Libraries, ONLINE, and Searcher will help ease the pain a little.

Fit to Be Tried

After attending the 2003 Computers in Libraries conference, Lisa McColl, technical services librarian for the Ryan Memorial Library at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, was brimming with ideas. Foremost in her mind was incorporating a new open source courseware program, Library Course Builder, so that teachers could post syllabi and class notes online and the library could simultaneously link students to appropriate, course-related resources. McColl got colleagues Cait Kokolus (director of library services) and Jackie Jones (Web administrator) excited about the plan, but after the Library Course Builder became available, the once-promising project was almost derailed. Once in hand, the three discovered that the program's dynamic Web page option was really too elaborate for the seminary's needs. However, instead of giving up, the women developed a workable alternative: doing their own alterations to the basic courseware pattern ("Tailoring Oversized Courseware to Fit Our Small Library," Computers in Libraries, September 2004).

Jones agreed to be the seamstress. Her job was to emulate the original design of Library Course Builder resource pages as much as possible, while making nips and tucks as needed. One such nip was creating static Web pages using HTML. Another was finding a company that could host course discussion forums. Utilizing .htaccess, a password-protection program that McColl had set up, and Access Denied, another script that McColl found, Jones was able to create the course pages so the library staff could work together to maintain the password database.

Meanwhile, Kokolus had the job of advertising this new product, which was named "E-Courses." Her big challenge was spreading the word within a community that had only been wired for 3 years and then finding faculty willing to participate in the debut of the program. Also, she needed to make sure E-Courses would not put too much additional work on Jones, McColl, and the rest of the staff.

How did all the alterations work out? As McColl reports, "After two full semesters of usage. E-Courses are being requested by more faculty members." In other words, the tailor-made program has been a big "fit."

Content Users' About-Face

Do you feel like your user base is changing so quickly that you can't be sure if your profiles are accurate anymore? Check out the article in the September/October issue of ONLINE by the director and lead analyst at Outsell, Roger Strouse ("The Changing Face of Content Users and the Impact on Information Providers").

Focusing on the evolving habits of content users within work and academic settings, Strouse provides ideas on how information providers can be part of this user evolution. …

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