All posts by Thomas Crichlow

Taken near doorways

We’re continually walking through doorways or passing them by, but how often do we linger to witness the life that unfolds nearby? Let the photographs below be your doorway, connecting you with lives lived in other places and times.

Man holding small boy in the air while a woman looks on from doorway.
Man holding small boy in the air while a woman looks on from doorway, from William Gedney Photographs and Writings

Man in doorway. Woman walking down sidewalk
New York City: Greenwich Village, from Ronald Reis Photographs

Man sitting on chair holding a small child.
Man sitting on chair holding a small child, from William Gedney Photographs and Writings

Woman, boy and man near entrance to store.
Outside entrance to Wynn’s Department Store, 1968 Dec., from Paul Kwilecki Photographs

Woman with cat in doorway
Woman with cat in doorway, Pear Orchard, 1961, from Paul Kwilecki Photographs

family portrait taken in front of doorway.
N479, from Hugh Mangum Photographs

Man eating, with child in background
Man Eating, with Child in Background, from Sidney D. Gamble Photographs

Be adventurous. Explore more images taken by these photographers as displayed within Duke University Libraries’ digitized collections.

Having it “All” – About Library Search Results

This fall we changed the default tool that students and faculty use to research library holdings. We have tools that work well for a broad search and tools that are tailored for more specialized research. So, how is this change working out?

Word cloud depicting the 30 most frequently used search terms. The size of the text is proportional to the number of times the term has been used.
Word cloud depicting the 30 most frequently used search terms. The size of the text is proportional to the number of times the term has been used.

We’ve got numbers and we’ve got opinion. First, let’s look at the numbers.

  • The most used feature on the Duke Libraries website is the search box on the homepage with 211,655 searches performed using the default “All” tab between August 25 and November 16, 2014.
  • Within the “All” tab search results, patrons selected results from Articles 48% of the time, results from Books & Media 44% of the time and other results 8% of the time. These results were presented side-by-side on a single results page.
  • The All search isn’t the only option on our homepage as the Books & Media tab was used 68,566 times and the Articles tab was used 46,028 times during the same timeframe.
  • The five most used search terms were PubMed, Web of Science, JSTOR, RefWorks, and Dictionary of National Biography.
  • The most frequently searched for fictional character was Tom Sawyer.
  • The most searched for person was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

So what thoughts have you shared with us about the search options we provide?

On the Libraries' homepage, you can click the gear icon to choose a different search tab as your customized default.
On the Libraries’ homepage, you can click the gear icon to choose a different search tab as your customized default.
  • During the first four weeks of the semester, 48 people submitted their opinions through a survey linked from the search results page.
  • Thirty percent of survey respondents said that they liked having the Articles and Books & Media results appear side by side on the new search results page.
  • Twenty-seven percent said they thought the page looked cluttered or that it was hard to read.
  • Forty percent said that they did not know you can change the default search tab that appears when you view the Duke Libraries’ homepage.
  • Twenty-five percent said that they did not know that they can choose a more highly-focused search option from the Search & Find menu.
  • Testing with a small group of researchers revealed that it was difficult to locate material from the Rubenstein Library using our default search results screen.

Based on your feedback, we made the following improvements to the search results page during the semester.

  • We de-cluttered the information shown in the Articles and Books & Media columns to make results easier to read.
  • We moved “Our Website” results to the top of the right column.
  • We reduced the space used by the search box on the results page.

In the coming months, we will explore ways of making it easier to find materials from the Rubenstein Library and from University Archives. We are also investigating options for implementing a Best Bets feature on the results page; this would provide clearer access to some of the most used resources.

What can you do to help?

Complete our online survey and tell us what you think about the search tools provided through the Libraries’ homepage.

Meet staff from Assessment and User Experience

Digital projects at Duke University Libraries are created and maintained by staff from throughout the Libraries. One of the many departments supporting this work is Assessment and User Experience (AUX). We currently have a staff of five.

Emily Daly

Emily Daly

Position: Head of Assessment & User Experience; Librarian for Education

Length of time at Duke: 8 years

What I do at the Library: As Librarian for Education, I help staff the Perkins Help Desk, lead library instruction sessions, teach a half-credit course for the Program in Education, and provide support for students and faculty across the university who are engaging in education-related research. As Head of AUX, I help lead and coordinate DUL staff members’ efforts to assess the effectiveness of our library collections, services and our physical and virtual spaces, and then attempt to improve our services and resources based on our researchers’ feedback. I do this in close collaboration with my talented colleagues Tom, Joyce, Ian and Jeremy. I also serve as a pre-major advisor for 6 first-year students or sophomores.

I think Assessment and User Experience matters in the life of the Duke community because DUL staff provide a range of services and resources to a large group of researchers whose needs are varied and continuously evolving. We work to understand what our users need to conduct their research as effectively and, in many cases, as efficiently as possible. We evolve our services, spaces and resources to meet their changing needs. That, and on a selfish note, it’s really fun and engaging to talk with students and faculty who care deeply about their research.

On the most unexpected trip I ever took I handed in my resume at the public library in Casper, Wyoming. Three weeks later and with virtually no work experience in libraries, I started as Natrona County Public Library’s first full-time Teen Services Librarian (or “Specialist,” since I didn’t yet have an MSLS). I thought I’d be at the library for a year and then return to teaching high school English — I was just waiting for a position to become available. It’s been 11 years since I submitted that resume, and in that time, I’ve worked as a public librarian, school librarian and academic librarian.

If I could take a month to intensively learn one new thing it would be human development with an emphasis on early childhood development, education policy, or web design/development — it’s too hard to pick just one thing to study, which is one reason I became a librarian.

Something memorable that I never expected to see at Duke was college seniors in black graduation gowns walking the quad and stopping periodically to put their hands over the heads and chant. I know now it’s linked to a secret society of some sort, but that’s the extent of my knowledge, and I’m okay with leaving it that way.

What I am currently reading for pleasure: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Another tidbit about me (related to the pic) is that one of my guilty pleasures is ice cream, and I’m proud to say I’ve passed on my weakness for it to my sons, 5 ½ year-old Philip and 2-year-old Patrick.

Ian Sloat

Ian Sloat

Position: AUX Student Assistant

What I do at Duke and at the Library: I am a graduate student in the MALS program and at the library I have mostly been working on updating signage and usability studies.

How long have you been at Duke? Just over one year as a student and 5 months at Perkins.

I think Assessment and User Experience matters in the life of the Duke community because it provides us with evidence that we can use to better improve the library for all of the members of the Duke community.

On the most unexpected trip I ever took, I was living in Scotland as an exchange student and I decided to take a trip to the highlands. I got off the bus in Loch Ness to go to the hostel I booked before I left. I walked up to the hostel as the bus was pulling away and when I got to the door, they had a sign up saying they were closed for the season. I stood outside (in the rain of course) for 3 hours until I hitched my way 20 miles north to Inverness and found a cheap hotel for the night.

If I could take a month to intensively learn one new thing it would be a second language, I took French for 9 years growing up in Canada, but I can’t speak a lick of it, so maybe something else.

Jeremy Zhang

Position: Undergraduate Assessment and User Experience Assistant

What I do at Duke and at the Library: I am currently an undergraduate student studying Electrical and Computer Engineering and Economics. In the library I help conduct research and produce both qualitative and quantitative data on many facets of the library. I also help develop and edit the main library website.

I think Assessment and User Experience matters in the life of the Duke community because it is important to streamline processes for students and researchers conducting research or working on their daily homework.

If I could take a month to intensively learn one new thing it would be how to produce electronic music.

What I am currently reading for pleasure: Understanding Wall Street, by Jeffrey Little.

Joyce Chapman

Joyce Chapman

Position: Assessment Coordinator

Length of time at Duke: 3 ½ weeks

What I do at the Library: Still figuring it out 🙂 The plan is to collect, analyze, and document data useful for evaluating library operations and understanding user needs; support data management, analysis, and reporting needs across the Libraries; and coordinate and deliver training on evaluation, data, and reporting tools. I’m here to help you, so get in touch!

I think Assessment and User Experience matters in the life of the Duke community because they help us to continuously monitor the Libraries’ impact and effectiveness, provide an ongoing basis to improve resources and services, and support data-informed management and decision making.

On the most unexpected trip I ever took, I was living in Germany as an exchange student in April 2005. A friend and I found cheap tickets to Rome and decided to take a vacation. The day after we bought our tickets Pope John Paul II passed away. We ended up in Rome during the Pope’s funeral, along with tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. It was a really unexpected and interesting experience!

If I could take a month to intensively learn one new thing it would be wilderness survival skills, just in case (zombie apocalypse, etc.).

What I am currently reading for pleasure: The Broken Eye, by Brent Weeks and Our Separate Ways: Women and the Black Freedom Movement in Durham, North Carolina, by Christina Greene.

Thomas Crichlow

Thomas Crichlow

Position: Assessment and User Experience Project Manager

Length of time at Duke: a little over ten years, depending on how you count.

What I do at the Library:

  • I plan and manage projects to create and renovate websites at Duke University Libraries.
  • I lead project teams and also work as a web developer.
  • I participate in assessments of how our community uses our websites, paying special attention to places where our patrons encounter difficulty in using our sites.
  • As a member of our Web Experience Team (WebX), I foster discussions about our vision, strategy and priorities for meeting patron needs through our online presence.

I think Assessment and User Experience matters in the life of the Duke community because we are well positioned to take a collaborative approach in identifying and eliminating pain points that hinder our research community’s ability to use the many tools and services provided through Duke Libraries.

On the most unexpected trip I ever took, I walked a dog from Germany to France, but there and back again only took 45 minutes. I was a high school exchange student in Germany, and the family I stayed with lived near the border with France, which was only two farm fields away from their house. When we got to the border, one of the men staffing the border crossing filled a bowl of water for the dog whom they already seemed to be well acquainted with.

If I could take a month to intensively learn one new thing it would be something hands-on and creative like painting or drawing.

Something memorable that I never expected to see at Duke was a little cabin high-up within the bell tower at Duke Chapel from which Sam Hammond plays the carillon, a manually operated, 50-bell instrument. I worked at the Chapel at that time and had access to parts of it that aren’t normally open to the public. I appreciated Sam’s graciousness in letting me take a peek at this rarely viewed, but oft heard part of our University. A recent Duke Chronicle article provides a further glimpse via an interview with Mr. Hammond and a photo gallery. There is also a recording of “God rest ye merry, gentlemen” played on the carillon.

What I am currently reading for pleasure: Guards! Guards! which is part of the satire-filled Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.

Focus: it’s about vision and teamwork

image of crossed eyes from an old advertisementSo much work to do, so little time. But what keeps us focused as we work to make a wealth of resources available via the web? It often comes down to a willingness to collaborate and a commitment to a common vision.

Staying focused through vision and values

When Duke University Libraries embarked on our 2012-2013 website redesign, we created a vision and values statement that became a guidepost during our decision making. It worked so well for that single project, that we later decided to apply it to current and future web projects. You can read the full statement on our website, but here are just a few of the key ideas:

  • Put users first.
  • Verify data and information, perpetually remove outdated or inaccurate data and content, & present relevant content at the point of need.
  • Strengthen our role as essential partners in research, teaching, and scholarly communication: be a center of intellectual life at Duke.
  • Maintain flexibility in the site to foster experimentation, risk-taking, and future innovation.

As we decide which projects to undertake, what our priorities should be, and how we should implement these projects, we often consider what aligns well with our vision and values. And when something doesn’t fit well, it’s often time to reconsider.

Team work, supporting and balancing one another

Vision counts, but having people who collaborate well is what really enables us to maintain focus and to take a coherent approach to our work.

A number of cross-departmental teams within Duke University Libraries consider which web-based projects we should undertake, who should implement them, when, and how. By ensuring that multiple voices are at the table, each bringing different expertise, we make use of the collective wisdom from within our staff.

WebX

The Web Experience Team (WebX) is responsible for the overall visual consistency and functional integrity of our web interfaces. It not only provides vision for our website, but actively leads or contributes to the implementation of numerous projects. Sample projects include:

  • The introduction of a new eBook service called Overdrive
  • The development of a new, Bento-style, version of our search portal to be released in August
  • Testing the usability of our web interfaces with patrons leading to changes such as the introduction of a selectable default search tab

Members of WebX are Aaron Welborn, Emily Daly, Heidi Madden, Jacquie Samples, Kate Collins, Michael Peper, Sean Aery, and Thomas Crichlow.

ACDC

While we love to see the research community using our collections within our reading rooms, we understand the value in making these collections available online. The Advisory Committee for Digital Collections (ACDC) decides which collections of rare material will be published online. Members of ACDC are Andy Armacost, David Pavelich, Jeff Kosokoff, Kat Stefko, Liz Milewicz, Molly Bragg, Naomi Nelson, Valerie Gillispie, and Will Sexton.

DCIT

The Digital Collections Implementation Team (DCIT) both guides and undertakes much of the work needed to digitize and publish our unique online collections. Popular collections DCIT has published include:
Man and woman standing next to each other as they each encircle one eye with their thumb and forefinger

Members of DCIT are Erin Hammeke, Mike Adamo, Molly Bragg, Noah Huffman, Sean Aery, and Will Sexton.

These groups have their individual responsibilities, but they also work well together. The teamwork extends beyond these groups as each relies on individuals and departments throughout Duke Libraries and beyond to ensure the success of our projects.

Most importantly, it helps that we like to work together, we value each other’s viewpoints, and we remain connected to a common vision.

Exams? Graduation? Already?

Yes, it is here; exams and graduation. It can be a time of stress, a time to recognize your hard work, even a time of celebration. But first, take a moment for diversion.

On Exams

Feeling stressed?
Learn how to deal with stressful exams through vintage advertising such as this ad for Lifebuoy soap: Whew! This Exam Is A Tough One! At least you won’t lose any dates if you follow their directions.

Ad for Lifebuoy soap

Tough questions?cover of teacher exam
Could you pass this 1892 teacher’s examination found in our Broadsides collection? Answers to the math questions have already been filled in. But alas, they didn’t show their work. Shouldn’t that lead to partial credit?

Who had an exam?
We even hear from Thomas Long about “Jesus’ Final Exam.” Can’t anyone get a break from exams? Long’s sermon begins at 32 minutes into the audio recording of this 1986 worship service from the Duke Chapel recordings collection.

Commencement

Once you’ve passed all of your exams, thoughts turn to time-honored traditions of graduation.

52 years ago at Duke
four-page issue of The Duke Chronicle notes what the Duke community could expect during the four days of commencement activities in June, 1962. But when you still have exams and papers due, graduation can still seem so far away.

Cover of Duke Chronicle 1962 commencement issue

Drama at commencement?
This commencement program from June, 1905 for the Memminger High and Normal School Academy of Music highlights not only a valedictory speech, but also the presentation of two essays, five musical performances, and two dramatic plays. Now, what drama would exemplify your academic experience?

Ahhh…

Once you work is done, whether you are graduating or simply completing another year of rigorous study at Duke, it’s time to unwind.

Taking to the streets
This photo from the William Gedney collection shows people celebrating in the streets of Benares, India. Gedney had just told them that you would ace your exams this year and so they started partying. Now that you know how they’ve celebrated your success, how do you plan to celebrate?

Image of people celebrating in the streets of Benares, India

Definitely time for cake
Will this vintage Pillsbury commercial from our AdViews collection tempt you into including their Deluxe Chocolate Cake in your party plans? Or, will you resist the cake and simply use the commercial as inspiration for your wardrobe choices for your end-of-year soirées?

May all of your papers, projects and exams go well. Good luck and best wishes from Duke University Libraries.