The New Web Site: An Interview with Libraries Head of Systems

Paul Philbin 001
Paul Philbin, Head of Systems, UVM Libraries

The Dana Medical Library Newsletter sat down with Paul Philbin, Head of Systems at UVM Libraries, and the project manager for the new Libraries Web Site to talk about the making of a new web site, the most significant changes and his favorite features.

1. Why did the Libraries create a new web site?

The primary reason for creating a new site was that we heard from users that they had to drill down too far into the site to find useful information. Pages visited most often were simply too far removed from the home page. Another reason was that we received complaints about the Web site’s appearance. For example, the photos hadn’t been changed since the original design of the site.

2. Why now? Is there any significance to the timing?

Actually, we wanted to do it a lot earlier. Originally, we considered a content management system and looked at different open source products, and then there was some thinking UVM was going to purchase a university-wide content management system. All of that took some time to figure out. Designing the site as it is now was a 2-year process.

3. On a related note, tell us a little bit about the process of creating a new library web site.

Three groups of UVM Libraries employees worked on the site. One group did a content review of the old site to see what information needed to be brought over to the new site. Another focused on technical issues and a third mocked up what the site would look like—more the design issues; for example, wire frames. The technical review group considered all of the technological issues of creating and maintaining such a large site, including Web 2.0 technologies and making the content database-driven so that updating and maintaining information would be streamlined.

We also hired a person from CTL [Center for Teaching and Learning], Inés Berrizbeitia, to design some of the look of the home page and the secondary pages. Inés did some of the initial layout and artwork, created the rotating header images and suggested color schemes with lots of back and forth.

At the same time a group in the Libraries was working with a designer and University Communications to create a new logo, tagline and design family for print and online documents produced by the Libraries. So the Web Team worked in consult with them as well on the design of the site.

All of the programming was done in house, but we did purchase a 3rd party software—LibGuides, a limited CMS [content management system] for creating research guides.

4. Why does it look the way it looks?

Well, as I said before, there were a lot of complaints about the look of the old site. So we knew right away that this site should be more attractive and image driven. That’s why there are images for the News, Spotlight and Events columns on the first page, as well as in the header. We also wanted to include the branding of the Libraries—the red and green and the logo. Most of the home page fell into place right away.

We also knew that we wanted to bring the hours, the search bar and other important information up front to keep users from having to drill down too far into the site. We had been using Google Analytics on the old site for a while, so we tried to position information on the home page based on that usage data from the old site. We tried to put most used information front and center.

5. What are the most significant changes?

We’ve extracted some of the most used data from the catalog and pulled it out to the top level of the site. For example, the DVDs, the UVM Theses and Dissertations and the New Books and Videos, which are still searchable via the catalog, are now browsable from the first page. We also provide an RSS feed so patrons can stay up to date on the newest additions. We thought it was important for users to be able to identify the intellectual contributions of UVM’s graduate students. And of course, the site’s a lot more attractive—that’s significant.

6. Are there any further changes coming?

There’s more work to be done in the Find section on the home page, and we want to continue analyzing the usage data, both on the old site and the new, and pull the most used information forward. We know, for example, that online reference sources were used a lot and it was important to users to be able to identify databases that had full text content, so we’ll want to look at making improvements there. We also want to explore more dynamic database management of the site, so it is easier to maintain and keep current.

7. Has there been any patron feedback so far? And will that shape how the site changes in the future?

Yes—in general comments have been very positive. And definitely, we take into account patron suggestions. Some we’ve already employed.

8. What are your personal favorite features?

I like the look and I like the images, so when I open a page or refresh the site, the image is always new and attractive. It gives the illusion that the page is changing constantly.

Free Online Resources for Alumni & Non-UVM Clinicians


With the recent launch of the new Dana Medical Library website,, many of the helpful subject-based web resource guides have also been updated.

The featured guide this month is the Free Resources to Support Clinical Care guide, a collection of websites that do not require a UVM affiliation. Alumni, healthcare providers in the general community, and anyone at all can make use of this guide and its collection of clinical resources.

The major category headings are:

  • E-Journals that are freely available online
  • E-Books collections
  • Drugs & Toxicology resources,
  • Clinical Evidence & Medical Literature resources, as well as
  • Patient Education & Public Health, and a section for physician social networking.

The guide is a work in progress and will be updated regularly. Feedback to keep the site fresh and relevant is appreciated. Email directly.

New Year’s Resolution: Do a Better Search, Ask a Research Question

longviewstudent11With the new semester starting, it’s great to see so many students in the Dana Library getting a jump on research papers, board exams, and study.

Are you working on a research project? A literature review is a normal part of the research paper. It requires that you find authoritative journal articles, books and websites on your topic. A good research question is the backbone of a good literature search. Focused questions on specific topics result in the best searches in PubMed and other databases. Questions that cover a broad subject area need to be focused or you will retrieve too many articles to manage. Limiting your search to review articles, clinical queries, or articles from specific journals are some ways to focus a broad topic in PubMed.

Do you need help formulating your research question or identifying the best databases to search for your topic? Do not hesitate to contact a medical librarian at Dana to give you a hand. Reference Desk hours are 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Monday – Friday, or click on the purple “Ask a Librarian” button on the Dana web page.

Or , you can help yourself by taking the PubMed Flash tutorials at There are basic and advanced techniques shown and you can do as much or as little as time and interest permits.

So resolve to do better literature searches this year. Dana librarians will be happy to help.

Best of luck with all your work in medicine, nursing, and health sciences this semester,

Marianne Burke MLS AHIP
Library Associate Professor and Director,
Dana Medical Library

Nursing Grand Rounds

Nursing Librarian Angie Chapple-Sokol recently delivered a Nursing Grand Rounds entitled “Dana Medical Library: What’s In It for Nurses?” to an attentive group of Fletcher Allen nurses. The program, geared toward all nurses at FAHC, stressed the important role that information plays in maintaining the highest level of quality in patient care. Angie urged nurses to maintain their senses of curiosity, and to ask the question, “But WHY do we do it this way?” as frequently as possible. She also pointed out that in the age of easy electronic access to evidence-based information it is easier than ever to find the answers nurses seek.

Angie’s lecture covered the wide range of resources available to nurses, highlighting a Web site she created that pulls together Dana Library’s nursing resources for a “one-stop shopping” experience for nurses. This website, entitled FAHC Nursing Resources, can be found through the Dana Medical Library home page under Guides, or directly at Using clinical case scenarios, Angie demonstrated the resources found in this guide.

For more information about nursing resources, contact Angie Chapple-Sokol at 656-9396. To schedule a grand rounds or other library-related instruction session, contact the reference desk at 656-2201.