Resisting the Databases A to Z List

The new semester starts tomorrow, and one project I wanted to launch was a redesigned electronic resources page on our library website. After reading Anthony McMullen’s article, “Resist the List,” I wanted to make fundamental changes to how our students view our A to Z pages.

McMullen argues that the Database A to Z list is user-unfriendly. Imagining that you’re a freshman who has to conduct research in a library, and presented with a long list of databases, vendors, icons, and descriptions, its really easy to get lost in what you’re looking for. So, instead of using an A to Z page, we launched page  that chunks databases into subject categories. This may or may not be intuitive for users, but a future usability test will help determine that. The page draws inspiration from Portland State University’s database page, and Virginia Commonwealth University’s database page.

I think one indicator to see if a database page is usable on a library website is if there doesn’t need to be that much instruction on how to use it. I feel that once info lit librarians/instructors no longer have the burden of teaching students on how to “use” a database page, then they can focus on other important topics.

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