Let's start here: we've gotten a LOT of feedback.
Since February, OPLIN has been gathering feedback on changes to the Ohio Web Library search page (ohioweblibrary.org). We started with the OPLIN Content Advisory Committee, then gathered comments at OLC Chapter Conferences. (And BTW, special thanks to everyone who offered comments!) Then last month, we sponsored some special awards at Ohio History Day and got to see the process papers submitted with many of the student projects, which gave us good insight into how students use public libraries when they are doing research.
All of this feedback has made us realize two things:
- It's better to expose the statewide databases alongside the databases the local library purchases, rather than trying to list locally purchased resources in a statewide databases page.
- Most usage of online databases is instigated by a librarian, in one way or another, and it's easier for everyone if the librarian is working from just one list of databases on the library's website, rather than a list of Local Stuff and another list of Statewide Stuff.
- So, why not list EBSCO and World Book and Science Online, etc. on the local library website along with the locally purchased auto repair databases, etc.? After all, the patron doesn't really care who paid the bill for the databases.
- When we built ohioweblibrary.org, we intentionally tried to make it look and act like Google, based on user studies we did at KSU. We were wrong; we're not like Google.
- Whereas Google searches the entire, crazy, mixed-up Web, Ohio Web Library contains a limited number of specialized, well-organized resources.
- If you want, think of Google's pool of information as thousands of books piled on the floor, and Ohio Web Library as a modest shelf of premium reference books. The approach to finding something in the pile as opposed to finding something on the shelf is going to be different.
So, now what are we going to do about it?
- We encourage libraries to grab links listed at http://oplin.org/content/how-link-oplin-databases and embed them in your local "research resources" page (or whatever you call it).
- Greene County does this rather nicely, for example: http://greenelibrary.info/research.
- OPLIN will keep our links maintained so they continue to work and let users into the databases, even if the vendor makes changes to their target URLs.
- We have built a very different Ohio Web Library page, which you can preview at http://dev.ohioweblibrary.org before it goes live on July 6.
- This page shifts our approach from digging through the information pile to browsing our reference shelf.
- In some categories, where it makes sense and is possible, we still provide a search box.
Oh, and two more things about the new OWL
Note that there is also a link to the current ("old") Ohio Web Library page, for those who prefer it; just be aware that the old page will not be updated after July 2 ‒ no changes to the locally purchased listings, for example ‒ and will likely have to be taken down three years from now when the contracts for the current databases expire.
For libraries that do not buy databases (and it looks like about a third of you don't), or even for libraries that do, we can brand the new Ohio Web Library page with your logo instead of the OWL logo, if you still just want to link to our page from your website. Contact http://support.oplin.org for more information ‒ about any of these changes.