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Cleaning the closet, database style (with kid talent)

Confession: I collect databases like I collect clothes.

Problem: When I get dressed in the morning, I have trouble scanning my crowded closets for available outfit options.  Or, I have trouble finding that one adorable top or dress that I woke up thinking I’d wear.

The  database situation has become pretty similar for our students.  And the fact that our collection includes an ever-growing number of reference e-books compounds the problem.

The subject tabs of our Database LibGuides work for specific information needs and specific inquiry projects, and many of our options are available from our OPAC, but those database-loving kids who have been with us for a few years, want to quickly get to the databases and e-books they know and love without the hassle of drilling through tabs or entering the catalog.  They wanted a one-page guide.

In the spirit of participatory practice, I tasked two of my interns, clutter consultants–Jordi and Amber, with discovering and implementing a solution.

The girls were delighted to attack this and started by searching the LibGuides Community for examples of pages with convenient pull-down menus.  They played with a variety of code options and found one they preferred.

Jordi described the issue and process.

We have so many sources in our repertoire that the database page became fairly chaotic. We decided that a more organized, user-friendly database page would students be able to more easily find some of the best sources for their projects. LibGuides are easy enough to design, and once we decided that we wanted a page with drop-down menus, the majority of the work came in the form of searching for the HTML code to use in the rich-text editor. As soon as we filled the LibGuide with the databases we use most often and find the most valuable information from, the page pulled itself together. The whole student body has yet to discover the new page, but each student we’ve heard from has found the new organization so much easier. All-in-all, it was a great idea to reorganize and redesign the database page.

And BTW, Amber reworked the top banner and colors too.

Interns rock.  Full website update to come!

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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