Bartley Business Information Center redesignedBy Michael Foight, Business librarian
Few current students may remember the hustle and bustle of the original Bartley Reading Room located on the ground floor of Bartley Hall. This Bartley facility served as a study space, a research center and a course reserve library with the goal of providing immediate, hands-on access for students and faculty of the College of Commerce and Finance. It was always filled with students eagerly studying and researching.
Several years ago plans were developed to renovate Bartley Hall and also to construct a new addition. The space used for the Reading Room was needed for other purposes, so in 1998 the Reading Room closed its doors. At the same time the World Wide Web had caused an earthshaking revolution in how business research was conducted. To resolve this dilemma, former library director James Mullins envisioned an exciting and bold new enterprise: the Bartley Virtual Reading Room.
In 1998 Dr. Mullins asked me to develop a web site to meet this ambitious vision. I created a site which provided those existing services that were readily transferable to the virtual site: research support, resource access and electronic course reserve. I was assisted by Falvey’s systems librarian Kathleen O’Conner, by the supportive Commerce and Finance faculty, who recommended many fine resources, and by the visionary leadership of Dr. Thomas Monahan, former dean of the College of Commerce and Finance.
This endeavor sought to create a virtual branch of the Library by transforming many of the services of the Reading Room’s physical space into a digital service point, keeping alive the spirit of close cooperation that the Library and the College had enjoyed, until the new physical Reading Room could be built.
Soon after becoming library director three years ago, Joe Lucia renamed the online enterprise the Bartley Business Information Center. The incredible success of the web site, which not only met service needs but exceeded them, caused a re-evaluation of the need for a physical reading room in the new building. Instead of a large study and research facility, the new Bartley Business Information Center would permanently consist of an independent web site and a physical office, Bartley 2008, where students could consult with a business librarian.
Now, after seven years of providing virtual service to the Villanova community, the former Bartley Virtual Reading Room has been redesigned into the Bartley Business Information Center, to provide both a better look and an increase in accessibility to the business resources and services that Falvey provides to the College of Commerce and Finance.
Joining me in the ongoing redesign of the web site are Daniel Overfield, assistant business librarian and lead webmaster on this project, and Andrew Nagy, library technology development specialist.
The Bartley Business Information Center web site intends to create a more intuitive interface, accessible to all web users, which also represents the vast amount of content contained within the prior version of the web site.
Certain attributes of its previous iteration, including a stable, utilitarian appearance, were influential in the construction of the new site. Following this theme, the pages of the new site all contain librarian contact information designed to highlight the visibility of a business consulting practice.
While content is still being converted directly from the older web site to this newer version, the overall features of the home page were added after reviewing the contents and layouts of a wide variety of other business libraries. Overall, fifteen different business library web sites were reviewed and their homepages noted for content and features. These included Harvard University, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Boston College, Notre Dame University and others.
The updated Bartley Business Information Center now features a monthly resource review, including both print and electronic resources, that will accumulate into a useful archive for future library users. Presentations made to students are available under “Course pages,” and the Bartley Business Information Center will be the first to implement a newly developed appointment scheduler, created by Alice Han of UNIT. This new tool will allow students to make, change and cancel reference appointments based on our own individual office hours and locations without any unnecessary communication overlap.