Students give input on upcoming KentLink makeover

Andrew Schiller

Usually students have to wait until after college to start making $15 an hour, but for some it was already a reality — though a little short-lived.

KentLink, the Kent State library system’s Web catalog, will soon be going through its first significant redesign, and yesterday the library hosted the first of two focus group sessions, giving participants $15 on their FlashCards.

“(KentLink) has had functionality added to it, but no major design changes,” said Jessica Gardner, a periodical services and interlibrary loan manager who is heading up the focus groups. “I imagine it’s going to get a major facelift.”

“We’ll be looking at it and asking questions like ‘If you were going to try to find a book on this, where would you click or how would you do that?’ or ‘What about this design? What works for you and what doesn’t work for you?'” Gardner said.

“We are getting a lot of input from the rest of the library staff as we go along, so it’s a very wide pool of information that we’re drawing from as we make our decisions,” she said.

On the design team there are two people focusing on the public service side and two people focusing on the technical side, which adds up to “four good brains behind the project,” Gardner said.

There won’t be any significant extra costs in terms of money, Gardner said, because the project is being completed by technical and library staff as part of their work for the university.

Chris Plues, senior computer science major, said he uses KentLink to access technical books online and wouldn’t really use it more or less just because it went through a major redesign.

“It’s fine with me,” he said. “I get what I need.”

Gardner said the project team has looked at thousands of other Web catalogs to get ideas for what to changes to bring to KentLink in time for the targeted project deadline — Fall 2007.

“Some of the things we’ve seen in other catalogs are things like links to book reviews or book jacket covers, or the ability for patrons to make little comments about a book,” she said.

“These are just things that we’ve have seen in other catalogs, that we think are neat, but it will be up to our users to help us make those decisions about whether we’ll be able to implement them.”

Gardner said people are always welcome to send comments, frustrations or opinions about the system.

“We’re doing this with the best interests of the user in mind, and the more that the users can inform us, the better job we can do for them,” she said.

Sophomore English major Kara Laughard, who participated in the student session, said KentLink’s look will probably be changed.

“Everyone thought it was stark and white,” she said. “They’re doing a lot of good things with it — trying to make it more student friendly.”

The faculty and staff focus group will meet Feb. 27 from 3 to 4 p.m. in Room 222 of the library. Like those in the student session, participants will be able to enjoy refreshments and an extra $15 on their FlashCards.

Contact libraries and information reporter Andrew Schiller at [email protected].