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Cultural Collections

New library website offers clarity, connection, accessibility

By Lynne Raughley

The Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design has created a new $25,000 prize to advance the project of one graduating senior.

A new library website——built from extensive user research and testing, launched July 21.

The new site presents the many aspects of the library in an integrated and holistic way, so people can easily find information about a service, collection, specialist or space without necessarily knowing in advance its location among the library’s various buildings.

It also offers a clean, easy-to-navigate interface that is compatible with assistive technologies and designed to meet the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium.

Among some of its other key features are:

  • New sections that highlight the library’s collections and collecting areas.
  • Ready access to information about the different types of library spaces, especially study spaces.
  • An “Information for” section that provides audience-specific information and links for a variety of campus and community constituencies.
  • The integration of alerts about services or facilities.

While these new features are important, Heidi Burkhardt, web project manager and content strategist for the library, said the new site’s most important feature is its overall usability.

“The organization and presentation of the information is completely new and greatly improved,” she said. “We really focused on our audience. Decisions were informed by what people said and did during our research and throughout usability testing.”

Burkhardt said librarians and library staff also contributed their expertise and extensive knowledge about the community that uses the library. One of the guiding lights of the project was something that emerged from these internal sources: people reporting conversations with recent U-M grads who find out too late about features of the library they hadn’t known existed.

“One of our hopes in building this new site is that we might never again hear, ‘I didn’t know about that library collection, or service, or expertise; it would have made my time here so much easier,” Burkhardt said.


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