ArchiveGrid?  Never heard of this?  Well, neither had I until I stumbled on a blog post extolling its virtues.  Here’s their description of this service:

ArchiveGrid includes over 5 million records describing archival materials, bringing together information about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more. With over 1,000 different archival institutions represented, ArchiveGrid helps researchers looking for primary source materials held in archives, libraries, museums and historical societies.


You can browse by state with the map on the home page or through the drop-down menu below.   For example, when I looked at the Washington State Library, I found this:

Very useful for our genealogy and local history researchers!

Adding Chat “Qwidget” Back to Site

Now that we have librarians in six of our libraries (EDM, LYN, MAR, MUK, OAK & SNO) up to date in monitoring our chat service, we are able to add points of service to our customers who prefer using chat to communicate!  We will start by adding an embedded chat interface window to our “Research” pages and our “Find A Good…” pages.  If a customer has drilled down to that level and now found what they needed they will see the option to ask for help right there instead of needing the extra navigation to our Ask Us, Tell Us page.

If Sno-Isle Librarians are monitoring then we will pick up our customers.  If not, then Seattle Public Library or other library system librarians in WA State will pick up while they are monitoring during open hours.  If no one in WA State is available to monitor then the question will go the global queue where many librarians are helping out from all over.  Just like with our chat form questions (on the Ask Us Tell Us page), we will have the opportunity to follow up with each and every one of our customers to make sure that their question was completely answered.

We are also working with Polaris to embed chat communication in the PAC for even another convenience to our customers.  This is still in development.

Any questions?  Please feel free to comment here or contact Christa at x7160!

Databases & Research – How to Improve?

With our new site in preview and ready to launch soon, we have been given the opportunity to also make adjustments to our Databases & Research pages for the better.  A first round of user studies has been completed and their participation gave us great insight into what our customers cannot (& sometimes can!) find there.

Please use this post to add your comments about what you would like to see considered or changed in Databases & Research.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. On subject pages, sort resources by type, putting our subscription resources at the top and public websites at the bottom
  2. Add a customized informational introductory subject-specific header created by a subject specialist librarian to each subject page.
  3. Consolidate “Books & Literature” subject with other pages about “Books”.
  4. Use topic ads with action words like, “Power of Attorney Form Here”, “Fix Your Car”, “Study for the SAT Now”,  & “Do Your Family History Research Here”.
  5. Simplify any text to 15 words or less.
  6. Highlight the Top Ten Databases (usage).
  7. Add some subjects like, “House & Garden”, “Business & Economics”, “Grants & Fundraising”.
  8. Add video tutorials, webinar links, and vendor user guides to resources.

Don’t hesitate to make a suggestion!  The more ideas for our Reference Services Committee to review and make suggestions to IPRS for final decision-making.

We need you to participate – thank you!  Any Questions?  Christa Werle, x7160.

New Web Resource Added to Learning Online

And thanks again to Lindsay Hanson for this suggestion:

Khan Academy ( Video library that covers K-12 math, science topics such as biology, chemistry, and physics, and even reaches into the humanities with playlists on finance and history. Each video is a digestible chunk, approximately 10 minutes long, and especially purposed for viewing on the computer.

I was debating adding it to our selected resources when I used it to best answer a chat customer’s question about the physics of cars.  It was exactly what the student needed.

Tools for Tough Times Subject Renaming Info:

Two of our subject pages are migrating away from Tools for Tough Times into  our regular Databases & Research subject categories:

  • “Get a Jump on the Job Hunt” will be renamed “Job Search Resources” to be consistent with linking throughout the site.
  • “Small Business Start-Up” will be renamed “Business: Small Business Start-Up” to bring it into alphabetical order for better discovery.

All of the other Tools for Tough Times links will be going away as this project/grant period is over.  Colleen will have more information on this in the next “What’s Up on the Web” newsletter.  The ‘Laptops for Job Seekers’ information remains on the Job Search Resources page:

Our Reference Services Committee will be evaluating the following categories for redundancy and making some edits and changes to keep things clean:

  • Business
  • Small Business Start-up (Small Business Start-Up)
  • Get a Jump on the Job Hunt (Job Search Resources)
  • Job & Skills Development

Any questions?   Please call Colleen (x7046) or Christa (x7160).  Thank you!

Online Subscription & eBook Access Locations

We’ve had questions from you about where to now find our “AtoZ Periodicals” list.

In the original redesign we left in on the Magazines page ( and the Databases & Research: Magazines & Newspapers pages (

To facilitate your access, it is now also on the main Databases & Research page ( linked from the text, “search our online subscriptions and research eBooks”.  If you would like to bookmark the A to Z tool, the direct link is

Please note that this tool is an index of all our online subscriptions, not just periodicals, but also the eBook content from within our databases.  Currently just the EBSCO eBooks are indexed.  We are working on uploading the Gale Virtual Reference Library collection and making sure other Gale and ProQuest content can be found there too.

Questions?  Comments?  Please feel free to share, we want to make our site the best that we can for ALL of our customers.  Thank you!

New Databases & Research Pages

One part of the IPRS work plan in 2010 included revising the design of the Databases & Research pages to better engage our customers with robust and seamless access to our online resources, in line with Goal V of our Strategic Plan.

Based on common threads in past surveys of staff, information requests from our online customers, evaluation of other library sites, and feedback from a communications and marketing consultant we created a list of what was working well and what needed improvement.  We determined what areas involved other work groups and have worked with Web Services, Community Libraries, Children’s & Teen Services, and the Reference Services Committee to refine and update the design of our Databases & Research pages.

We have tried to simplify and clean up what is available by adding a graphic orientation to the landing page and then limiting the resources available on each subject page (with an expanded number of subjects) to the best 3-10 resources available online.  We have tried to personalize and promote our librarians as information professionals by providing pictures and contact linkages to the librarians/libraries that are responsible for maintaining each subject page.  We have edited each resource description to be concise and meaningful to our public customers.

Though the date may get pushed back to accommodate Polaris Transition priorities, we are currently hoping to go live with these pages on April 4th.

Please take a look at the SPEC pages:

And PLEASE, share your comments and feedback here on the blog.

New Subjects Are Up

Fresh off of Web Services fingers…

Today the new subject categories are live on our “Databases & Research” page:

We are still finalizing the list of resources in each of these subject categories, so we appreciate your patience while everything is worked out.  If you have a new subject category suggestion or a resource that you would like to see included within a subject category, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT here!

Ongoing Changes to Databases & Research Resources

You may have noticed recently that the changes we announced to our Databases & Research page back in November are now nearing completion.  The Reference Services Committee has been busy culling our recommended websites and subscription eResources down to the best 3-10 online resources for each subject area.  The list of subjects will soon expand and the sub-categories will go away.  You can view  a list of the new subjects and the RSC member responsible for that collection on our Intranet:

As of today, most resources have been reassigned and we appreciate your patience during an interim period before they all come online.  Web Services will complete the transition as work on the ILS PAC nears completion and we will issue notifications as Database & Research changes are completed.

Any questions or comments?  Please contact the appropriate RSC member or Christa Werle (x7160).

Online Magazine Search

will soon show up on our “Magazines” page (

Usability studies show that this is where the majority of our users navigate to when looking for what online subscriptions Sno-Isle Libraries carries.  Web Services will embed our A to Z subscription search tool on this page right next to the print magazine search.  This added functionality helps us reach our strategic goal of providing users easy access to online resources.

Please note that this might be a temporary fix as Polaris cataloging of magazines varies from our current system and the print search system may need to change shortly.  Comments or more ideas?  Please contact me at x7160!  Thank you!