Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Library Portals

There's a provocative article in InsideHigherEd that suggests the library web page as a portal is an idea whose time has passed. In my experience with undergrads, it's actually essential to have a central index of resources available. The reason is simple: not all resources are available from everywhere. Most institutions have a budget for electronic resources that limits the choices to a select group. Without an index to what's available, a google search will probably be a waste of time.

I do agree that it could be made easier, and there are services that can index all of your databases and provide a central search capability.

The portal is especially needed for off-site access, where one must generally authenticate through a proxy server (like EZProxy) to gain access.

In other news, I'm evaluating a workflow solution called PerfectForms. It's Flash-based and very slick. It allows registered users to create forms and workflows. You can attached scanned documents too. Below is an example I made (a work ticket).
I will sign up for the demo account and see how hard it is to create a workflow for an actual process. We are currently reviewing office procedures to find efficiencies, so this is a good time to do such a thing. I'll post a more detailed review here afterwards.

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