Thursday, August 16, 2007

Research methods and job ads

I'm writing up a job ad for a vacant position in my department today. I've been thinking about the skills and qualifications that I'm looking for and it occurs to me that one of the things that makes hiring difficult is that we (I) typically don't think much about how I'll measure the qualities that I'm looking for in a new employee. For instance, if I say that I'm looking for someone who is self-motivated and has a positive attitude, how will I determine whether my applicants have those qualities? That's not a question I would have asked myself before I started learning about research methods.

Before, I would have probably tried to come up with some way to quantify things like supervisory experience and familiarity with Windows Office software which are fairly easily quantified into measurements that have an ordinal relationship. But I would also have tried to quantify things like self-motivation and positive attitude which I think is much more difficult, not to mention subjective. This time I'd like to take a more qualitative approach to analyzing resumes, applications, reference letters and interviews (and helping the members of my search committee to do the same).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Usability and the new library web site

This is it! The weekend that we take down the old library web site and publish the new one. It's a project I've worked hard on all summer.

In July, along with some colleagues, I conducted usability tests on the new (unpublished) site. Then I reviewed the recordings of the usability sessions as well as the comments that my colleagues and I made after each usability test session and comments from the library staff and compiled a list of changes to the new site. The changes were mostly based on the things that our test participants had trouble with during the usability testing although some were based on staff commments and research that the Information Architecture Working Group did as they planned the new site. Finally, a number of us in the library have worked very hard to implement those changes in time for the preparations for the beginning of the fall semester to be completed.

As of Monday, August 13, 2007 you can see our new web site at The parts I worked on most are the Search All Databases pages (you can see them by clicking on the "Find Articles" link on the library homepage) and the Find Journals list (you can see this by clicking on the "Find" drop down menu at the top of the page and selecting Journals). Unfortunately, because our contracts with online information resource vendors require us to limit access to them to students, staff, and faculty of our university, you probably won't be able to see much.

Anyway, I'm fairly proud of what we've accomplished this summer and happy to have some data with which to work this fall. I'd welcome any comments that anyone cares to make about the site.

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I am... a wife a daughter a sister/sister-in-law an aunt a reader a librarian a doctor a quilter a niece a grandmother ;-) a cat owner 6 feet 1 inches tall a yoga enthusiast a cook