A guest post by Donci Bardash
Montana State Library and the BTOP project are excited to be able to offer WebJunction Montana.
What is WebJunction Montana?
WebJunction is a learning community designed exclusively for libraries. Through WebJunction, Montana library staff will have direct access to technology training offered by the Montana State Library. Due to the fact that our funding for this project is one-time-only and limited in scope, initial WebJunction Montana content and resources will focus on technology-related subjects that assist library staff in supporting their public access computers. Library staff will also be able to access training and informational materials from numerous BTOP community partners including the Supreme Court of Montana Self-Help Law Program, the Montana Department of Labor & Industry and more.
Managed by the BTOP Technology Trainer, Jennifer Birnel, WebJunction Montana will include resources identified in our published Public Computer Center Learning Targets. These learning targets are Montana-specific, and include topics ranging from basic computer set-up, to more advanced network management topics such as filtering, to accessing e-government resources such as Montana legal forms. If a patron needs assistance locating information on tenants’ rights, your library staff will know how to efficiently and accurately assist her.
Many of the tools you will find here are created locally by subject matter experts from Montana State Library, public libraries, and community partners across the state. The targets are thoughtfully organized by a person’s role within their library, ranging from trustee to network administrator.
Finally, librarians who become “premier” Montana sponsored members can enroll in WebJunction’s online, self-paced courses on a wide range of subjects impacting Montana libraries.
WebJunction Montana is a sharing community; the content is not limited to what is posted by State Library staff. We welcome and encourage our members to participate by posting comments, training resources, handouts, helpful links, and sample workshop curricula. The usefulness and value of WebJunction Montana will be in great part, dependent upon your participation.
Read more about WJ-Montana on WebJunction.org.
The results of our 2011 member survey sent us a message loud and clear: users of WebJunction greatly appreciate how much information the website contains, its breadth and depth and variety. However, users do want the information to be presented more simply, with less clutter, less text, fewer links to click, and fewer hoops to jump. We hear you, and will be focusing on making those improvements throughout the rest of the year.
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we started the simplification by paring down the home page to the most popular content. Our next target has been the discussion boards. When we relaunched the new version of WebJunction.org in 2008, we experimented with decentralizing the forums so that there was a separate board for each topic, scattered throughout the website. The idea was that visitors to the website would be looking for resources on a topic, navigate there, and then explore the variety of content formats to get the answers they need, including forums. It may have been an interesting concept, but forum software was not built to be used that way, and we stretched the feature beyond its practical capacity. Visitors have had a hard time finding the discussions and, more importantly, keeping up with the activity there.
So, we have consolidated most of the discussion forums to three main areas:
If you click any of the three tabs on the top WebJunction menu for those areas, you will see the related discussions right on the page. No need to drill down any further for subtopics.
We also took the opportunity to do some weeding of the boards, which have been accumulating content since 2004. We moved only those threads with recent activity (basically, posts in 2011) to their new location. We archived the older threads.
There are some additional places you will find discussion forums:
Based on input from our members and state library partners, WebJunction is making some changes to keep its services affordable and valuable to library staff and library agencies.
Beginning July 1, 2011, members who are sponsored by their state library through WebJunction’s Partner Program will be able to enroll in an unlimited number of courses at no charge from their state library’s WebJunction catalog. Read this FAQ to see which states are in the Partner Program and where to access their catalog.
Members have told us that they are unable to afford for-purchase courses and it has become unsustainable for us to continue to offer that service. Therefore, as of July 1, members who are not sponsored by their state library will no longer be able to purchase courses through the general catalog at www.webjunction.org/catalog.
If your state library is not currently a WebJunction Partner, please contact your state library about becoming a WebJunction partner. Meanwhile, please know that all members may:
Read this FAQ for full details and answers to questions we have received about this service change, which was announced to registered WebJunction members via email on June 7. Send any additional questions to me at email@example.com.
Just about one year ago exactly, we refreshed the design of the WebJunction home page, with the goal of simplifying the content on the page while surfacing the various types of new and popular resources that WebJunction offers. With a year of observation under our belt, along with the results of our most recent member survey, we see that the page design has been somewhat successful meeting those goals, but that there is room for even more simplification.
Although WebJunction members tell us that they most appreciate the information that the website offers –the amount, the variety, the breadth and depth of topics, the currency — they also tell us that it is often too hard to find and they still can feel overwhelmed by the amount of text on the page.
We will be focusing on improving that problem for the remainder of the year. To kick things off, I did a weeding exercise of the content on the home page, which you can see here: www.webjunction.org. Gone are the lists of “Most Popular Content,” which members told us was actually the least popular feature on the page. We also removed some of the lists under “New on WebJunction,” paring it down to New Documents, Discussions, and Webinar Archives. Finally, we moved the feed from this blog from the lower-right side of the page to the middle, replacing one of the mini-article spaces we had there. I hope these changes will give your eyes and brain less to try to process.