Tag Archives: tutorials

Online AquaBrowser Tutorial

With the implementation of AquaBrowser at my library, I was charged with creating a tutorial for staff. Rather than the usual pdf or Word document, I wanted to create something dynamic which allows for continuous updating and editing, as AquaBrowser continues to develop and we find new ways to use AquaBrowser in our everyday core library services.

When I started writing this tutorial, I realized that there wasn’t a lot of available literature around to assist in developing this, and that while a lot of libraries may want to train their staff on AquaBrowser, or schools want to introduce their students to what social catalogues are, there were limited resources available to do so. As a result, I not only wanted to created this tutorial for staff here at my library, but for other professionals to adopt as they saw fit and for library schools, hoping to not only teach what features are common in next generation catalogues, but the many different ways you can implement its functions into services such as Readers’ Services, Youth Services and Promotions/Events. Hopefully this tutorial will spark lots of ideas for you, indicate some future directions these catalogues should be exploring and the possibilities for using social catalogues.

One of the key objectives was to show staff that AquaBrowser (which we have named “Discover“) is more than just an updated version of the classic catalogue. As a result, the different sections of the tutorial explore, albeit not too deeply, the many ways we can use social catalogues to assist and enhance core library services. It isn’t just about pointing out what features exist and where they are located, but how to implement the use and benefits of AquaBrowser into everyday library services – and perhaps, while doing this, to realize some shortcomings, some potential and inspire additional ideas and thoughts about how social catalogues will be used in the future.

Because this is an ongoing work and the tutorial will continue to change and be updated to reflect ongoing enhancements, versions or components, I welcome new ideas or additional thoughts on how these catalogues can be used – or are being used in your libraries.

In the meantime, please feel free to use this tutorial at your own libraries, or to create your own tutorial using this one as a guide. Rather than re-inventing the wheel and duplicating the same “how to use our new catalogue” tutorial, I’d rather see other professionals spend their time thinking about additional ways to use these catalogues and how they benefit library services.

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Filed under Discovery tool platforms, Social catalogue

Positive feedback for a catalogue that was previously avoided

In my October 19th entry, I discussed the tutorial that I was creating for staff at Halifax Public Libraries. This tutorial focussed on our kids’ catalogue, known as KidSearch. I now have the feedback from my tutorial.

Prior to this tutorial, I was concerned with some of the informal and second-hand feedback I was receiving about the kids’ catalogue. Some staff felt that the catalogue was not successfully serving its purpose, while others were leaning toward the removal of this catalogue altogether.

With the three year mark having just passed in the implementation of the kids’ catalogue, I felt that a full report, including a survey, might be necessary to properly evaluate the success of this catalogue and its future.

Prior to conducting a staff survey however, I was approached to create and conduct a tutorial for the kids’ catalogue that would be delivered to all public supervisors and readers’ advisors. The results of this tutorial were very positive.

Tutorial Feedback
Out of all of the evaluations that were returned, only one staff member indicated that they saw no need for the kids’ catalogue. Many readers’ advisors were pleasantly surprised with the features of the catalogue and were very excited to begin using it to its fullest extent. This includes promoting the reading lists included on the site to parents and teachers and searching in the catalogue because it retrieves materials only included in the Children’s collection.

What impressed me was the depth of feedback and careful consideration staff put into their evaluation forms.

There was one comment regarding the exclusion of YA materials in the catalogue’s searches. YA materials are not included in search results in KidSearch because the primary purpose of the children’s catalogue is to target the 6 to 10 age group and beginning or young readers. This is exhibited through its image-based and simplified appearance.

Some of the comments were also very helpful regarding changes that should be considered for the catalogue. An example of one of these changes deals with the default search on the main page. From staff comments, it can be concluded that a title search or more advanced keyword search may be preferred over the current anyword search. Also, there was a comment about searching in the search history.. The staff member was concerned that terms in the search history defaulted to the main page of the kids’ catalogue, rather than recalling previous search results. After attempting several other searches, I received the same result. This is something that has only now been brought to our attention and is extremely helpful feedback. Some suggestions may be more difficult to implement as we are restricted by the capability of the software.

Providing staff with an opportunity to suggest the contents of the reading lists will help create a collaborative environment surrounding the use of the kids’ catalogue. Many staff members were very excited about this ability to share information and ideas. I believe this will make staff less afraid of the behind the scenes “mystique” in the library catalogue.

Overall, I believe the KidSearch tutorial provided us with some very helpful feedback. Although not well used in the past, it appears as if the main reason was a lack of understanding regarding how the kids’ catalogue was laid out and the features that it exhibits. Also an inhibiter was the overall lack of knowledge regarding how to search this catalogue and the various searching capabilities. Most of the comments suggested that the kids’ catalogue is useful and of significant value to the library.

This tutorial has also assisted me in the direction of my report on the catalogue. I now have a greater understanding of how staff feel about the catalogue and what the barriers were in not using the catalogue in the past. As a result, the survey portion of my report has been altered, and the length and depth of the survey can be minimized.

All in all, the tutorial was a great success. I received a lot of feedback about the catalogue and was able to market the catalogue to staff through educating them about the catalogue. The knowledge and skill set they have now obtained will carry over to the public and, in all likelihood, boost the usage of the kids’ catalogue among staff and patrons.

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Filed under The Cataloguer, The Library Catalogue

Creating tutorials

I am in the middle of preparing a tutorial of our children’s catalogue for our staff here at HPL.

As a cataloguer and librarian, I sometimes take it for granted that other people don’t have the information seeking skills that I have. To me, Boolean logic is like knowing how much cream to put in my coffee. Knowing how to use keyword searches and browse searches is common sense…right? Wrong.

I don’t want to say that only we cataloguers (aka information specialists) know how to search. There are a lot of talented, knowledgable staff members who can find materials in the catalogue as easily as I can. However, there are as many, if not more, who don’t. Remember, this tutorial isn’t just for librarians, it is for all levels of staff.

Having given considerable thought to how to design this tutorial, I came up with the following tips:
1. Make it fun. Staff members are taking time out of their workday to take your tutorial. It should have a fun element in it. Because this tutorial is exploring our kid’s catalogue, I decided to make it colourful, with lots of images.

2. Don’t rely on text alone. If a staff member is busy, they won’t take a tutorial that is ten pages of typed directions. Even worse, ten pages of the same font with no variation in size or structure.

3. Vary the Design/Layout to make it practical. We want staff to want to take the tutorial and retain the information. After staff work there way through it, they should be able to keep your tutorial as a guide, rather than deleting it off the computer or throwing it away. Make key points visible and keep paragraphs short. It should be easy to read. Don’t be afraid of using a larger font. Design the tutorial to flow in an organized manner. After all, the tutorial is meant to remind or teach staff how to use the catalogue, not rush through it and forget about it. If, when they are done, they have a guide to return to should they have questions in the future, then you have created a successful tutorial.

4. Keep the language plan and simple. I think this is fairly self-explanatory. Again, the tutorial is meant for all skill levels. Using advanced terms will only frustrate and discourage some staff members. This ties in with #5.

5. Don’t assume. Include even basic terms and explanations so that you can teach staff at all skill levels.

6. Set goals and objectives. Set out your objectives in the tutorial. This gives you guidelines for creating the tutorial and a clear picture to staff memebrs about what they should be learning. A sweeping goal that states “This tutorial is meant to enhance your knowledge of the kid’s catalogue” is empty. What are they expected to get out of the tutorial? Fo example, some of my objectives for this tutorial are for staff to: To learn all of the ways you can access the catalogue from the homepage, to understand why we have a separate catalogue for children, to learn new searching techniques and strategies that will assist them in their future searches, to become aware of how they can contribute to the catalogue and so on.

6. Be realistic. Not everyone is going to take the tutorial or like the tutorial. And, not all of the tutorials you create will be successful. Look at the feedback from the tutorial as an ongoing learning experience and don’t feel to hurt when you receive negative feedback.

My tutorial is being distributed in November. I haven’t gotten to the feedback stage yet. I’ll let you know what happens.

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Filed under Our Profession, The Cataloguer