Project Details - Mini-Library Web Design Project

Description of Organization

The University of Alberta recently celebrated 100 years since inception. A large research institution, located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the University boasts approximately 30,000 undergraduates, 6,000 graduates, 1,500 faculty members, and 13,000 support staff (Data Book). The library is a subset of the University community. The University’s library collection is the second largest in Canada and 13th in size among North American libraries (Distinctively U of A). As a large research institution, students have access to some of the best resources in Canada.

The University of Alberta library strives to provide current, accurate information to its users. The library system has ten branch libraries throughout its campuses. The University Library’s mission is listed below:

Students studying from a distance are one group of library users that need information through the web. Document delivery services and support for distance education students are delivered through the Interlibrary Loans department. Designing a website describing the information regarding library services for distance users is the focus of this project.

As a large research institution, the library has access to resources and funding to develop a Content Management System (CMS). The CMS allows units within the library to keep information current and accurate. This also frees developers from having to make minute changes to a website regarding information unfamiliar to them. The ease in using the CMS has its limitations. The website must be designed within the framework of the CMS. Some elements are not editable to maintain consistency throughout the library website. The design of this site will be largely about content and as opposed to aesthetics due to these limitations. The flexibility and ease of editing pages by many people also means that the person who builds the site may not be the person who maintains it. A site plan and maintenance guide would be helpful for the person who will be maintaining it.

The Library has many resources at its fingertips. Often with these vast resources, the relatively few pages regarding a library service for distance education students can be lost within the site. Because the University, including the library, website is so large, users may not be accessing the pages regarding distance education directly through the library website. It is more likely that they will be coming from a search engine (Google or the University’s) or another external link to find the information that they need. Therefore, it is important to let people know where they are at all times on the site. Breadcrumbs are one tool to let users know where they are within the website. Breadcrumbs are part of the CMS system and will display the page hierarchy at the top of each page.