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Card sorting tests for MIT Libraries website redeisgn
Designed and carried out card-sorting tests using the online tools, Optimal Sort and TreeJack, to help understand how MIT students & faculty categorize information on MIT Libraries website.

Digital scholarship at MIT: a study of how new technologies and formats are changing how MIT scholars find and use information
Designing and conducting an ethnographic study of how scholarly research methods are changing with new technologies. This study will take place in spring 2011. For details, see Ethnographic study proposal: Digital Scholarship at MIT.

Mobile library services and ebook reading devices
Planning and research in order to develop new library services related to ebook reading, understanding and recommending iPhone and iPad apps for academic use, leading the experimentation with multi-touch interfaces and emerging technologies related to tablet computing. Examples: Borrow an iPad from the Music Library, mobile web category in our news blog, and more.

MIT Libraries User Experience Group (UX)
As part of the reorganization of the MIT Libraries, planned and designed a new User Experience Group. Purpose: to create a holistic, user-centered, innovative approach to service design for both virtual and physical spaces, based on quantitative and qualitative assessment data that focuses on user needs. Why? So that users have seamless discovery and access to scholarly information sources for the MIT community, as well as high-quality spaces for reflective and collaborative work, study and learning.

Helped transition staff to new roles, which include: user needs assessments, usability testing, gathering and interpreting statistics, virtual sites design and production (web and mobile), embedding content outside of our own systems (in Flickr, Google Scholar, course management systems, etc.), public space design and programming, marketing and communication.


Mobile web site for iPhones (beta). (Fall 2009)

MIT Libraries site designed for iPhone, as part of the MIT Mobile web. Worked with MIT mobile web team to develop this site.

MIT Libraries home page redesign. (Spring - Summer 2009)

Leading the libraries User Interface Group to redesign our top-level page, based on results from usability studies. See web-site history and gallery of previous home pages. Project wiki.

2007 - 2008

LibGuides: a content management system for research guides created by librarian subject experts (May 2008 - August 2008)

Led project to implement LibGuides in the MIT Libraries. Appointed a task force to come up with style guidelines, worked with group to train staff, worked out custom CSS for our sites, implemented system for listing our research databases by subject using LibGuides.

Updating the interface to MIT Libraries' Vera, using Metalib with the X-server (May 2007 - June 2008)

Designing a new interface to MIT Libraries' Vera, adding new functionality that can cross search groups of databases at once. The plan is to release a beta in the fall of 2007, conduct usability tests and make revisions. Then go live, replacing the current Vera, by summer 2008. About Vera Multi-Search.

Investigating Worldcat Local as a possible "metadata aggregator" and alternative interface to MIT's Barton catalog (Fall 2007 - Spring 2008)

See the Worldcat Local Task force charge and working notes.

Using Wordpress as a Content Management System (Fall 2007)

Explored the use of Wordpress (without the blogging features) as a content management system for two web sites of the MIT Libraries. One is the Dewey Library Home page and the other is the Scholarly Publication web site. Both sites allow library staff to easily maintain the sites through the Wordpress editing interface.

New podcast series on Scholarly Publishing & Copyright

Set up a podcast series for the Schorlary Communication librarian. Trained staff on audio recording, and podcast feed creation. Subscribe here: http://feeds.rapidfeeds.com/6772/

2005 - 2006

Manager for Project SimpLR (August 2006 - present)

The purpose of Project SimpLR is to build a simplified, integrated, search and discovery interface for accessing the MIT Libraries resources. The motivation for this came from the Photo/Diary study mentioned below, as well as the results of our 2006 Library Survey. The project will begin with implementing Metalib with its X-server in a targeted way and will also look at the possibility of acquiring a Metadata Aggregator with faceted browsing. The goal is to make discovery and search easier and more effective for our users.
Project web site | Task for charges

User needs assessment: The Photo/Diary Study (January - April 2006)

The photo/diary study consisted of asking a group of graduate and undergraduate students to keep a diary and take photos and screen shots of their information seeking activiites for the course of a week. The students were then interviewed in depth by members of the MIT Libraries staff, using the photo diaries to assist in telling the detailed story of their week.

The study was designed to help spark new ways to understand the information needs of our users, by allowing us to see the full breadth of their information seeking behavior. Seeing this complete context would, we anticipated, help highlight the service gaps that the MIT Libraries could fill.
Project web site | Final report | News blog story

Co-chairing the SFX-Verde Task Force (February 2005 - July 2006)

This group was charged with coordinating the upgrade and use of SFX in the MIT Libraries and also to evaluate whether to adopt a new ERM management tool, under development by ExLibris, called Verde. The process of this evaluation led to looking at the larger picture of how e-resources are presented to MIT users, and also considering the impact of web 2.0 ideas on libraries. See: Library 2.0: an update from the SFX-Verde team: A talk for staff of the MIT Libraries. Ellen Duranceau, Nicole Hennig and Tracy Gabridge. January 4, 2006. Download slides: Powerpoint or PDF

Implementing a blog for MIT Libraries News

In 2005 we decided to use Wordpress to create a blog for news about the MIT Libraries. We trained several staff members from around the libraries to become editors of stories for the blog. This made it easy for us to supply RSS feeds based on topices in the blog.
MIT Libraries News Blog | RSS feeds

2002 - 2004

Redesigning the top level home page for the MIT Libraries' web site

Though our home page has gotten rave reviews, we find it serves repeat users well and new users not quite as well. We're working on a new structure and look for the home page without changing the rest of our site at this time. Project web site, Web site history, Gallery of previous home pages.

Content management system for the MIT Libraries' web site

We are currently researching possible options for content management tools for our web site. Team members: Carl Jones and Nicole Hennig.

Database Discovery Tool analysis group

Goal: To make a recommendation to Library Council for solutions for a Database Discovery Tool and Metasearch product. Project web site.

"The Big Test" usability test - November 2002

The aim of this test was to learn how our students use our many web-based tools and interfaces together. We previously tested our web site, our catalog, and Vera as separate things, but until now, we never tested how they all work together for our users. The goal was to improve the interfaces of each, including how they work together and how they refer to each other. Test results web site.

SFX implementation

Project to implement SFX in the MIT Libraries. Project web site.


Designing a usable interface for MIT Libraries' new web OPAC

In 2001, MIT Libraries' moved to an ExLibris system for their catalog. This project involves customizing the web interface to the new system, using ongoing usability test results and user-centered design principles.
[Barton: MIT Libraries' catalog]
[January 2001 - January 2002]

MIT Libraries web site redesign

This project consisted of a user-centered design process for redesigning the MIT Libraries web site.
[February 1999 - June 2001]

Web-Based Database for MIT Libraries Electronic Resources: "Vera"

Project Vera was the creation of a FileMaker Pro database for providing access to the networked electronic resources of the MIT Libraries.
[Vera - Virtual Electronic Resource Access ]

[detailed article about the creation of "Vera."]
[June 1999 - February 2000]

MIT Libraries web site usability test

Designed and led the MIT Libraries Web Advisory Group in a usability test of the libraries' web site. The purpose was: 1) to set benchmarks for measuring the success of future site designs, 2) to identify specific usability problems as a starting point for improving the site design. A summary of findings is available.
[March 1999]


1996 - 1998

Usability testing for intranets

Designed and conducted a usability test for the Bose Intranet. Based on the works of Jared Spool and Jakob Nielsen, specifically their work on usability testing of Internet sites, this test measured the effectiveness of the Bose Corporate Intranet for information retrieval. Has led to the development of a benchmark for measuring future improvements to the Bose Intranet.
[December 1997 - December 1998]


Creation of a directory of Internet sites

This ongoing project, "Web Sites for Bose Employees," involves evaluating, selecting and indexing a variety of Internet sites. It is used as a starting point for Internet research by Bose employees. Future plans include the creation of a database back end and the use of a metadata scheme for improving the effectiveness of this resource. [see sample here]
[September 1996 - December 1998]


Planning and implementation of a web-based library catalog

Beginning in June of 1996, we evaluated different library automation systems for their use in the Bose Corporate Library, eventually choosing SIRSI Corporation. This automation project involved setting up the project time-line, meeting with the vendor, negotiating prices, preparing OCLC and patron records for upload into the system, staff training, customizing the interface to the web-based catalog, publicizing it to our patrons, and maintaining it from day-to-day. This has been a wonderfully successful project which met its goal of being fully functional for library use by August of 1997. The entire library collection is now searchable by Bose employees worldwide through its web-interface. [screen shots available here]
[June 1996 - August 1997]


Planning and teaching Internet research classes for Bose employees

These classes are so popular at Bose that there is always a waiting list. Our goal is to develop information literacy in Bose employees, which involves helping them understand what the Internet is useful for and when to prefer mediated searching in commercial databases. Over 400 employees have completed these courses, taught twice a month or more since early 1997. There are two 4-hour classes, part one and part two, meant to be completed in sequence with several weeks in between to absorb and practice what they have learned. The feedback from employees has been tremendously positive. [course outlines available here]
[January 1997 - December 1998]


Design and maintenance of the Bose Corporate Library Intranet page

This page has two goals, 1) to publicize and inform Bose employees about the library services available to them, and 2) to serve as a "virtual library" on employees' desktops. When I began working at Bose in June of 1996, the library had a simple page describing its services, created by someone from the engineering department. I brought my web design skills to this job, having developed the web page for the Emmanuel College Library, the Fenway Library Consortium, and Fenway Libraries Online. The page is now in its 4th revision and includes access to our web-based catalog, as well as several other web-based commercial databases. It includes forms for requesting research, borrowing a book, requesting interlibrary loans, and several other library functions. The latest design incorporates feedback from our Intranet usability test results described above. [sample screen shots]
[June 1996 - December 1998]


Database design for acquisitions and request tracking

This database was designed soon after beginning employment at Bose in June of 1996. Since the library was in transition from a one-person library to a staff of 4, a new system for record-keeping was needed. After analyzing the work flow, and in consultation with staff members, I created this database for the following functions:

It enables not only day-to-day order tracking and report generation, but also provides ongoing statistics for most of our functions in the library. It was designed using FileMaker Pro's built-in scripting and relational features and is available on our library network, shared between Windows NT, Windows 95 and Macintosh computers.

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Nicole Hennig, Independent UX Professional, Boston, MA