Head of Web Services, University of Houston Libraries
Rachel E. Vacek has been a librarian for over 10 years and is an active member in the fields of digital and web librarianship.
Rachel is currently the Head of Web Services at the University of Houston Libraries, in Houston, Texas, where she manages the Libraries’ website, mobile services and many other tools that constitute the Libraries’ virtual presence. She enjoys the challenges of streamlining and integrating web-based access to library resources and services as well as providing innovative tools for the Libraries in support of the teaching, research, and learning needs of the University of Houston community.
She speaks regularly on library and web technology at national conferences like Internet Librarian, the American Library Association (ALA) Annual and Midwinter Conferences, and the Library & Information Technology Association (LITA) National Forum. In 2007, she was chosen to participate in ALA’s Emerging Leaders Program that was designed to help develop the next generation of library leaders.
Her areas of interest and expertise include open-source technologies, Drupal, emerging web technologies, social networking, user experience design, mobile gadgets, encouraging innovation, digital libraries, the future of libraries, and World of Warcraft.
The University of Houston Libraries is an academic library system of the University of Houston serving students, faculty, and the general public. The main general collection library of the system is the M.D. Anderson Library. The system has three other branches—all of them existing on-campus at UH. Two additional libraries, the Conrad N. Hilton Library and Archives and the John O'Quinn Law Library, are managed and maintained by their home colleges. Through a collaboration between libraries, students and faculty of UH–Clear Lake and UH–Downtown have the ability to check out circulating volumes.
In web design, much of user experience design is focused on the needs and expectations of end-users. However, when developing within an open-source content management system (CMS), it becomes essential to also consider those who will be using the CMS. At the University of Houston Libraries, the Web Services department learned how essential it is to balance usability and functionality when developing a CMS after they really started using and getting feedback on their over-engineered intranet implementation in Drupal. This talk will include lessons learned from our initial mistakes, but focus primarily on the challenges and successes of the CMS built for the Libraries’ website and the methods we used for engaging users to help determine the initial direction for the development of the CMS. Attendees will leave with ideas on how to simultaneously provide flexibility and advanced tools to improve the user experience and apply “therapy” to their own CMS implementations. Background article: Improving the Drupal User Experience
Philadelphia 11 Conference News: You’ve implemented a new CMS… Now what?