By Michael McNulty, European Regional Library Support CenterJanuary 15, 2009
HEIDELBERG, Germany - These days, people are so busy they often don't have time for many things they enjoyed in the past, such as visiting a library.
Army Europe Libraries kept this in mind while planning the first phase of a major Web site redesign, an endeavor that aims to turn a computer into a personal eLibrary when you visit www.library.eur.army.mil.
"We are embracing the concept of a virtual library," said Meg Tulloch, Europe Region librarian. "The library is home to so many amazing resources and helpful information for people of all ages and interests. We've tried to bring some of that material into focus with this new Web site."
With a wide range of easily accessible, useful resources, the library Web site is a logical place to start any information search. Library members stationed across Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan can conduct online research using databases, read full-text newspapers, magazines and journals, read book and movie recommendations, browse the catalog, download audio books and eBooks, and more.
Best of all, these typically high-priced services are available free of charge to anyone with a library account - 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In addition to an updated look, users will notice improved navigation and a variety of enhancements, including specialized pages - for Soldiers, teenagers and children - that cater to the interests and needs of customers. Other improvements include:
*Library News section located on home page;
*More information about garrison libraries;
*New search tool on Research page allows searching across multiple article databases at once;
*Homework help page for students;
*Refined electronic journal A-Z title search;
*Research by Topic tool aids research, helps people choose databases;
*Dynamic Recommendations page features blog, helps people discover new books and movies;
*Focus on multiple formats for every "reading" style, such as downloadable audio books, e-books, normal books, and online book clubs.
Amy Drayer, a web and systems librarian, recruited librarians from around the region to conduct usability tests with library users. The outcome of those tests helped Drayer to develop the Web site, making it the Library program's first site where users had a hand in how it would look and function.
Librarians at the European Regional Library Support Center in Heidelberg, along with a handful of garrison librarians, are now responsible for submitting regular updates to the site, ensuring its content remains current and relevant for users.
"Our goal is to provide better services to our patrons, wherever they are located," said Drayer. "The new Web site is easier to use, provides more and better content, and focuses on the patron."
Site visitors are invited to take the Web site survey, currently available on the home page. All suggestions, ideas, comments and critiques are welcome.
"Please tell Army Europe Libraries how you envision your eLibrary," said Tulloch.