LibX – Enhancing User Access to Library Resources

LibX – Enhancing User Access to Library Resources
Annette Bailey, Virginia Tech
LibX – A Browser Plugin for Libraries

Annette reviewed the history of LibX and the initial motivation behind creating this tool: users were increasingly bypassing the library and using search engines and other online search tools. LibX, as a browser plugin, puts the library back into the research process by guiding the user to library resources no matter where they are online.

Edition Builder Study
The LibX team conducted a study of Edition Builder, a LibX feature that allows libraries to create LibX editions for their particular library. Through analyzying their user logs, and a user survey that included 139 participants, they asked three questions about Edition Builder:

  1. Is the interaface easy to learn and use? (yes)
  2. How successful are edition maintainers in creating LibX editions? (successful)
  3. Is the auto-discovery feature effective? (yes)

According to self-reports, the majority of Edition Builder users creators found it easy or very easy to learn and use and preferred its single-page application interface. Logs showed that 50% of users built their edition in 72 minutes or less, and 80% in 190 minutes or less. Auto-discovery of the library catalog, databases, and Open URL Resolver generally worked well, and most of the users who needed to do manual configuration were able to do so easily.

LibX 2.0: the next stage for LibX

Libraries are creating service-oriented architectures, support mashups and widgets, and reate online tutorials, guides, and visualizations. The LibX team returned to their initial motivation: how can libraries provide these services and resources at the user’s point of need? Adding features to the library catalog or web site isn’t helpful if people aren’t visiting the library catalog or web site.

Annette gave a demo of sample features they have developed, “LibX 1.5”

  • On an Amazon book page, instead of just a little cue (LibX logo), adding direct information of availability in the user’s library.
  • Adding a LibX link at the top of Google search results; clicking on the link brings results from the library catalog to the top of the results list.

With funding from IMLS, LibX 2.0 will allow librarians to create LibApps for our users from reuable, sharable components, and our users will be able to describe which services they want to subscribe to.

LibApps will be applications that consist of modules, allowing the modules to be customized or reused.

The LibX community will include 3 target audiences:

  • Developers: will write LibApps and modules. (The LibX team will also create some fundamental modules.)
  • Adapters: adapt, combine, reuse and share the LibApps.
  • Users: decide what to use.

The IMLS grant includes funding for developing marketing kits for users. Users need to see the benefits in order to decide to use. Word of mouth has seemed to be the most effective method of increasing use.

Q&A:

How can we drive the LibX user base?
Along with creating the marketing kits, the grant will allow them to do a user study. The institution needs to actively support and promote the tool: demonstrating in instruction sessions, including as default on browsers on campus.

Is LibX primarily for academic libraries?
It is for all types of libraries.

What about International use – is it feasible to use in Africa?
Yes; and there is an interest in the library community in making LibX available in additional languages, not just English.