More MTagger Usability Research
July 25, 2008
As previously mentioned, the Usability Working Group (UWG), along with our 2 fantastic and hardworking interns, have been conducting usability research on MTagger.
We've now completed 5 studies (heuristic evaluation, cognitive walk-through, interviews, an informal "guerilla" test, and a comparative evaluation). We've just completed 6 formal usability tests and are in the process of analyzing the results.
Drupal: MLibrary's Future CMS
July 24, 2008
The University of Michigan Library is in the process of a major site redesign. Part of this design is moving -- at long last -- from static pages built on SSI to a full-blown content management system. We started with a review of the (mostly open source) CMS software landscape, and winnowed this list down to nine candidate systems worth a deeper look:
We took a look at each of these in some detail, taking into consideration programming languages and local expertise, amount of documentation, vibrancy of the active developer community, comparable "peer" installations (either in other libraries or at other similarly large-scale sites), and a very subjective review of how the admin and authoring interfaces acted. We summarized our findings in a spreadsheet:
After this first pass, we ended up with a short list of 3 tools, the ones with the highest average score:
We then set up out-of-the box test installations of these three finalists and compared them in terms of workflow (our final designs weren't ready, so we didn't focus on making the test installs look "right"). We arranged phone conversations with library IT folks who were using these tools. And in the end, we selected Drupal. While the other two tools had strengths, we ended up deciding against Joomla! because of what we perceived as a surfeit of security problems over time with frequent releases to patch bugs or security holes. We liked Plone, as well, but we felt taking on a new programming environment (Python) for something as critical as our web presence was not sensible.
In the end, though, it was Drupal's strengths in terms of its modular construction, very lively development community, and the number of large academic libraries using it that led our decision.
Google Still Not Indexing Hidden Web URLs
July 22, 2008
Read our recent article in D-Lib Magazine:
This report is a follow-up to the McCown et al. article in IEEE Internet Computing two years ago , in which the researchers investigated the percentage of URLs from OAI records in Google, Yahoo and MSN search indexes. We were interested in whether Google in particular had increased the number of OAI-based resources in its search index.
Google's indexing does not seem to have retrieved more of the hidden web since the publication of the McCown, et al. article in 2006. We would venture to conclude that Google has not endeavoured to increase their support and access to OAI materials. Even taking into account the caveats in our report, we would also conclude that aggregations of OAI records are as valuable for user research purposes as they were at least two years ago.
 McCown, F., Liu, X., Nelson, M. L., and Zubair, M. "Search engine coverage of the OAI-PMH corpus." IEEE Internet Computing 10:2 (March/April 2006) pp. 66-73.
Top Ten MBooks Collections
July 21, 2008
Three weeks after it was launched, we can say a little bit about MBooks collection builder usage. Right now, there are 47 public collections (more than half were created by LIT staff) and 170 personal collections.
I've done a little bit of rough assessment, and can report on the ten most-used MBooks collections (they are all public collections). Collection usage includes viewing the collection page, searching the collection, sorting the books in the collection, and copying items to another collection. It does not include searching or viewing the items within that collection -- tracking use of a book from a collection vs. from Mirlyn vs. from links from blogs was outside the scope of my quick-and-dirty analysis. Usage from our network range was not included in this assessment.
Here they are:
- Abraham Lincoln: Fact and Fable
- Great Britain
- Ann Arbor History
- How to be a Domestic Goddess
- Gothic literature
- Historical Bicycling
- Adventure Novels: G.A. Henty
- What It Was, Was Football
- French Texts
Abraham Lincoln: Fact and Fable is twice as popular as the next-most popular collection, Great Britain, which is almost twice as popular as Ann Arbor History. As far as I can tell, none of these collections is linked from anywhere else except for the G. A. Henty Adventure Novels, which is included as a link in Henty's Wikipedia entry. Even with the minimal metadata presently available on the Public Collections page, people are finding and using collections that are interesting to them.
July 01, 2008
As previously mentioned, we've been working on expanding the functionality of our MBooks system.
The new interface now allows users to create their own collections of MBooks items and view public collections created by others. Users can also do full text searching across all items within a collection.
So, check it out! MBooks Public Collections Page
We quietly released it last week so we could discover any remaining bugs and (my personal nemesis) browser display problems. We hope we caught them all, but please let us know if you experience any weird behavior. You can contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or the feedback form linked to from the top of every MBooks page.
And please take a few minutes to fill out our quick survey to help us decide what features to add next.