All posts by Thomas Crichlow

Secure Update for Library Website

Students using computers
October 2017, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and over the next few weeks Duke’s IT security office will be sharing tips and resources to help students, faculty, and staff protect their digital security.

Here in the Libraries, we’re doing our own part to make our web presence more secure. During fall break, the Duke University Libraries web site will begin using the HTTPS protocol by default. HTTPS, which means Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, ensures an encrypted connection, providing greater privacy and security than the HTTP protocol many of our sites have previously used. This change will apply to web sites that we maintain directly, such as our homepage and our digitized collections, and to hundreds of the databases and journals that we subscribe to.

What does this mean?

When you go to our web site using the old adress that begins with “http://” you will automatically be redirected to an address that begins with “https://” — for example, the full address of our homepage will be

You will know a web site is using HTTPS when the URL begins with “https://” and your web browser displays a closed padlock icon as seen in the following example:

A padlock icon next to a web site URL indicates it uses a secure protocol

Will the entire Library web site use HTTPS?

Most of the Library web site will use HTTPS; however, the portion of the Library web site that we refer to as the Classic Catalog will not transition from HTTP to HTTPS. Students, faculty, and staff may continue to use Classic Catalog “as is,” and it will continue to function as it always has without change. When using Classic Catalog, some newer web browsers will display a “Not Secure” warning when you type search terms into the search box.

As an alternative, we encourage you to use either the All search or Books & Media search to find resources at Duke University Libraries via the more secure HTTPS protocol. Both of these more secure search options are available within the library’s home page search box.

On October 25, 2017, we will remove the link to Classic Catalog from our home page, although this legacy platform will continue to be available “as is” at its current address.

Problems? Questions?

Additional information is available for your use in troubleshooting, reporting problems, and asking questions.

New Library Website Launching on October 14

After months of development and user testing, we are making final preparations to launch the new Duke University Libraries website on October 14, during Duke’s Fall Break. More user-friendly, easier to navigate, and intuitively organized, our redesigned site comes with additional features we think our patrons will appreciate—because they asked for them! You can take a peek at our new homepage design now.

Screenshot of new hompage.
New Duke Libraries website homepage. Click to enlarge.

Notable differences from our current website are based on usage data and patron feedback. They include:

  • My Accounts link at the top of every page
  • Updates to the tabbed search box on our homepage
    • “Books & More” becomes our default search tab scoped to a search of our catalog
    • We are bringing back the “Articles” tab
    • The “All” tab is still there for those who want to search our collections broadly, but it’s no longer the default
    • Our website search box is now included as a tab on the homepage
    • Other key search tools are in the ribbon just below the tabbed search box
  • Site navigation via drop-down menus at the top of every page
Screenshot of drop down menu
The drop down menu provides quick access to links throughout the website. Click to enlarge.

We are also adding search pages that will make it easier for you to find your favorite items in our collections, such as film and video or eBooks.

Screenshot showing the Film & Video search page.
New search pages make it easier to find some of your favorite items. Click to enlarge.

Content throughout the site is being updated to be more current and easier to read. Also new: the entire website has been responsively designed, so it automatically adjusts to different screen sizes, from large computer monitors to smart phones.

We began this group effort a year ago with over 70 library staff plus countless undergraduates, graduate students and faculty who use the Duke Libraries website. It would take a long time to thank everyone who has made contributions to this project through their feedback, research, user assessment, data analysis, planning, designing, coding, and content writing and editing. Their thoughtful work will result in a library website that is just as welcoming and easy to use as our physical stacks and reading rooms.

Next week, we will provide a link with preview access to the site along with a more detailed description of how the new site is different from the old one. So stay tuned…

Finding a Library computer during crunch-time…

To see a list showing how many computers are available at various Library locations around campus, point your cell phone’s browser to a new page on the Library’s mobile website:

This is part of a beta site providing Library web content formatted specifically for cell phones and other handheld devices (iPod Touch, Blackberry, etc.). Feel free to give us your feedback letting us know what Library information you’d like to access via your cell phone’s browser.

Kudos to Jim Coble, Matt Gates, and Jason Simons for making data on available computers accessible to our patrons.

We also have a set of pages on the Library’s main website,, that displays the same information graphically.

Library Website on Your Phone

What is it?

A website optimized for use on handheld devices such as cellphones, iPods, and PDAs:

  • These are new web pages created specifically with the needs of mobile users in mind.
  • This pilot project does not duplicate the main library web site — mobile device users can still access the content on the main library web site when in need of more detailed information.

Key points about our pilot:

  • Compact display: information optimized for the very small screen space available on handheld devices — every pixel counts.
  • Compact file size: patrons often pay a fee for each byte transmitted to their device, and handheld devices often have very slow connection speeds — every byte counts.
  • Tightly focused content: the content we provide is closely tied to the tasks people are most likely to undertake on a handheld device — context counts.
  • Optimized Navigation: navigation is optimized for handheld devices (e.g., using access-keys for keypad navigation).

Feedback, Suggestions, or Questions?

We are keenly interested in your ideas. Please post your comments letting us know what Library information would be helpful to you if it were part of the website.