Sabbatical Report : Redesigning the Technical Services Web Resources Site – July – December 2002

Sabbatical Report

Redesigning the Technical Services Web Resources Site July – December 2002

TO: Cynthia Archer – University Librarian, York University Libraries
TO: Noli Swatman – Office of Research Administration, York University
FROM: Heather A. Fraser – Head, Bibliographic Services, Scott Library, York University
RE: Sabbatical Report – July – December 2002
DATE: January 3, 2003

Background Goals Methodology and Tools Benefits Future Plans Home Page and Links


The project I chose for my 1996 sabbatical was to to create the first departmental website for York University Libraries Bibliographic Services Department: Technical Services Web Resources. The purpose of the project was to gather together the relevant information and working tools for the department and then provide a central place from which to easily access this material for technical services staff. The site was also intended to provide information about Bibliographic Services for other libraries and library departments at York and to share information and expertise with Technical Services Departments in other libraries. We have now been using the site for approximately six years. The site has grown considerably and now contains over 1000 pages of new and updated content, both local and external. It has proved to be a useful tool for us. During this time there have also been many changes in our area. In recent years the technical services area for York Libraries has undergone significant restructuring and there have been various procedural changes. It was now time for the website to also undergo some change.


The primary goal of my sabbatical project was to redesign the Technical Services Web Resources site to render it easier to use and more flexible with respect to updating existing and incorporating new information. I also wished to build in links specific to the Monograph Acquisitions and Serials and Electronic Acquisitions Departments and also revise the Cataloguing Committee webpage. The timing was ideal since at this time it was also necessary to incorporate the technical services material into the new content management database now being used to manage library web pages.

I also wished to incorporate site searching software to address the problem of locating specific documents in the large website.

Initially I had planned to create Dublin Core metadata descriptions for all local content that did not already have a Dublin Core description assigned but this proved to be unnecessary once I began to work with the library content management software.

Methodology and Tools

I began the project by reviewing the "old" website and seeking feedback from staff as to what changes they would like to see in a new website. Content requiring revision and deletion was identified during this stage. I also spent some time looking at other technical services websites in Canada and the U.S. It was interesting to discover that many other sites are also being redesigned at this time.

The timing worked very well because by the time I was ready to begin the work on the site, the group in the library working with and introducing the new Content Management System (CMS) was ready to show me how to use the software. The advice provided with respect to setting up a "framework" and thinking about how I wanted the site organized in the new environment was very valuable and saved a lot of time on the project.

Although there were a few glitches that made for slow progress in the first few weeks these were rapidly sorted out with the kind assistance of members of the CMS group and in particular, Catherine Davidson, Doug Fenwick and Tuan Nguyen. Once the glitches were resolved I was able to work on the project from home updating and incorporating our existing content and creating new content As new challenges were encountered such as incorporating the many images and binary files the site contains, solutions were always forthcoming. The fact that our content was already in HTML format in the old environment made it much easier to move it to the new environment.

I was able to take advantage of the search engine incorporated into the library web environment with the new CMS software to provide a search engine for the redesigned Technical Services Web Resources Site.

I had planned to use a new editing tool, Dreamweaver, for creating new content during this sabbatical but as I started to work with the CMS software which has an editing tool of its own, I discovered it was more practical to continue to use the HTML editor I have used for several years, HotMetal and work with the CMS editing tool as appropriate.


CMS Environment

Having the Technical Services pages in the content management database makes the management of a fairly large site much easier. Since our pages can be "self-published" they are now available as soon as they are ready. An additional benefit of the new software, is that it is possible for more people to become involved with creating content for the website.

Use of the CMS software means that it is possible to maintain the consistency of document style that was used in the former website. The navigation bars which are a feature of the CMS software provide options for moving around the website.

The available search engine makes it easier to retrieve documents in the site which might be a few layers down.

Communication and Timeliness

The use of a website for library technical services means that cataloguers will simultaneously have the most up to date versions of local manuals, documents, handouts, memos, etc. New information from cataloguing agencies is accessible directly on-line and cataloguers can for example, go ahead and use new subject headings and apply cataloguing rule changes from the Library of Congress much sooner than waiting for them to appear in print from the quarterly Cataloging Service Bulletins. The new environment for our web content has only enhanced this, especially with respect to the timeliness of getting our local documents up on the website.


This web page provides cataloguers with access to a much wider selection of tools and resources to assist in the acquisitions and cataloguing process such as other library catalogues, language dictionaries and geographic information. Frequently used standard cataloguing tools such as the various Cutter Tables, lists of standard abbreviations are all available directly from individual workstations.

Information Sharing

Staff from other departments in the York University Library System will have access to this Web Page and be able to view and make use of the information and links it contains. The site has grown and has been enriched by the inclusion of content from Monograph Acquisitions and Serials and Electronic Acquisitions. Both Annual and monthly reports from all three departments are available on the website and the webpage for the Staff from Technical Services Departments in other libraries will be able to view and use the content just as our staff can view selected web pages from other technical services departments in Canada and the U.S. It is an important means of sharing information about how we go about the process of providing access to information as well as a means of sharing information about the tools that are available to assist in the process.

Future Plans

As was the case with the former website the external and internal links will be checked on a regular basis to ensure that they remain active and current. New local content will be added and updated as required and new links will be evaluated and added as appropriate. To address a need identified in the Bibliographic Services input into library academic plan a document will be added to the website to provide a clearer picture of "whodoes what" in the department.

Websites linking to our "old" website will be identified, notified of the change and provided with the new URL.

Home Page and Links

I have attached the home pages from both the Technical Services Web Resources website and the Cataloguing Committee website. I invite you to take a closer look at the both the new Technical Services Web Resources Site and the new Cataloguing Committee website by pointing your web browser at the following URLs: (Technical Services Web Resources) and (York University Libraries Cataloguing Committee Home Page)