The Library Who Came in from the Cold

Librarians are some of the most helpful people on our campuses. But library websites often are not. Libraries are all over the place when it comes to the technology they use: they run WordPress, Joomla, ContentDM for special collections, LibGuides for reference services, etc., etc., etc. When Brian Rogers took over the job as Web Services Librarian at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga a couple of years ago, he inherited a library web presence that was disjointed within the library and disconnected from the rest of the university. And in the Library Who Came in from the Cold, Brian describes the process and the collaboration required to get the library’s web presence back on track.

Redesigns are often faced with the same cheer Richard Burton exhibits on the film, the Spy Who Came in from the Cold. In other words: not very much. Throughout his talk, Brian used images of the many grimaces of Richard Burton to illustrate the pain points and the processes behind the library redesign, reminding us all that “university web redesign is an unholy union of convenience, frustration, compromise, and respect.”

The librarians and the IT staff can sometimes feel like adversaries, not allies. IT worries about security — and not without reason, after earlier library WordPress efforts left their sites vulnerable. Librarians worry about standards — and not without reason, when they have to work with connecting so many inter-related systems and products. And sometimes the students’ needs can get lost, when everyone assumes they’ll just know what a database is and if they don’t, they’ll just look it up.

After long month of “dubious annoyance,” “diplomatic pessimism,” “leery trust,” and “tired resignation,” the library’s new site-wide redesign was launched, setting the library up for a future where whey will never again find themselves years out of date.