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Library Portal Update

The Library Leadership Team and Portal Working Group have made significant enhancements to the Library Portal.



Last year saw some significant improvements to the Harvard Library Portal, including new resources for alumni, a redesign of both the Get It! Services page and the Library blog, and a new way of collecting stories from the Harvard community.

In 2015, a working group formed under the authorization of the Library Leadership Team and collaborating closely with the Harvard Alumni Association set up access to a limited offering of electronic resources for Harvard alumni. While not on the same scale as the access offered to students, faculty, and staff, the Library was able to provide alumni with unprecedented access to more than 7,500 online journals and e-books. Notable offerings include current content from JSTOR, Time, Foreign Affairs, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and more. An icon linking to alumni resources (in the form of a stylized graduation cap) is now featured prominently on the Portal home page.

As one of its projects for the year, the Portal Working Group focused on a redesign of the Get It! Services page with the goal of illustrating the various services that the Library provides for obtaining books, articles, and other materials. The group completely rethought how to describe these services, presenting them in a single color-coded diagram, arranged along a vertical axis based on the information most important to users: namely, how quickly a user can expect a requested item to be made available or delivered. A text-only alternative was also provided to ensure that the information communicated by the chart is equally available to visually impaired users.

The working group also oversaw the addition of a new top-level menu to all pages on the Portal. This “omni-bar” closely follows the standard menu links that appear on library systems pages (such as HOLLIS+ and VIA), providing Portal users with immediate, one-click access to frequently used resources. In response to user and staff feedback, improvements were also made to the Find a Library page and library profile pages.

The Library communications team undertook a redesign of the Library blog in 2015, removing visual clutter and placing posts in a single column with prominent images and larger, easier-to-read text. Most recently, the team completed work on a new mechanism for gathering user feedback. A form on the Portal now allows users to share stories about what the Library means to them. The form also provides a means for users to offer suggestions aspirations for the Library’s future.

Article written by Thomas Dodson.

Published on January 13, 2016.