By Kevin McGuire

Navigating the Rutgers University Libraries Homepage

The homepage is the public face of Rutgers University Libraries. It is a platform from which a person may go virtually anywhere: to conduct their scholarly research, to get to the Libraries' staff-related resources, to access the university-wide environment, or go out onto the World Wide Web. It might be a good idea to print the document you are reading now, and then with that in hand to investigate a live version on your computer. First we will take a quick look at the over-all design of the homepage. Next we will locate some of its key features that a person new to working in the Libraries might find especially useful.

The design of the homepage is heavily weighted towards the needs of the patron. The options presented were chosen to help students and faculty proceed with their research. For example, in the gray-colored sidebar along the left-hand side of the screen, you will see selections such as SEARCH IRIS AND OTHER CATALOGS, FIND ARTICLES, and FIND RESERVES, all of which were created for patrons to use directly, or for librarians and other library staff to help patrons in accessing library resources.

At the bottom of the gray sidebar are the RUTGERS icon, the VALE logo, the Disabilities icon, and the NJKI icons. Clicking on RUTGERS takes you to the university-wide homepage. The Vale logo gives a description of the Virtual Academic Library Environment, a consortium in which the Libraries participates. The Disabilities icon lists the services in the Libraries available to patrons with disabilities. Clicking on the NJKI icon will present the webpage for the New Jersey Knowledge Initiative, a project developed to provide statewide access to many science, technology and business databases. It will be worth your while to take a look at the university-wide homepage that is displayed by clicking on RUTGERS. One particularly useful search option available there is SEARCH RUTGERS feature, located on the right side of the red menu bar. This may be the fastest and easiest way to find a library colleague's email address and/or telephone number, or to quickly locate a department or program in the university.

The NEWS & EVENTS box featured on the right-hand side of the homepage displays highlights from a larger list you could get by selecting the NEWS AND EVENTS l link in the left-hand sidebar. Here you can read the Libraries' press releases, see what exhibits are installed in the various libraries, discover what new indexes and databases are about to be introduced, catch up on new library services being offered, and see what research roundtables or symposia are scheduled for the near future.

The Gray Side Bar

Most library research is initiated by choosing one of the menu items from this sidebar. As you slide your cursor over these selections their main features will appear in the middle of the page.

SEARCH IRIS AND OTHER CATALOGS will will direct you, primarily, to IRIS, the Libraries' online catalog. Keep in mind the version of IRIS first presented here is IRIS Quick Search. Clicking on the link above the Quick Search box presents the complete IRIS search screen. But some of the most popular features of the complete version of IRIS, such as Reserves, My Account and Advanced Search, can be accessed via their separate links immediately below the Quick Search box. Beneath the IRIS options is a bulleted list of Other Library Catalogs, which includes for example the two Rutgers law library catalogs in Newark and Camden, E-ZBorrow, the RLG Union Catalog, and WorldCat. And clicking on the More Library Catalogs link will present even more individual, multi-library, statewide and national on-line catalogs.

FIND ARTICLES will present the Indexes and Databases link, among others. The Indexes and Databases page contains a master list of all the web-based indexes and databases to which the Libraries subscribes, a good number of which provide articles from scholarly journals and popular magazines in full-text. Many of these resources are Rutgers Restricted, meaning you must be either a Rutgers student, or an employee at Rutgers, to access them from home. Other selections available on this page, such a How Do I Find An Article? and How Do I Know If Rutgers Has A Particular Journal? are mini, online tutorials designed to help patrons make the best use of our resources.

FIND RESERVES directly connects people to the Reserves component of the IRIS catalog. Here students can see what their professors have placed on Reserve in the Libraries for them to read. Much of this material is available in full-text online.

RESEARCH RESOURCES presents a wide array of choices. Indexes and Databases are again made available here. This is also the place to find Subject Research Guides, Finding Aids, and Tutorials, documents that Rutgers librarians have created to help people get started with their research. One link on this page, Electronic Reference Sources, deserves special mention, for the general user as well as for people new to working in the Libraries, no matter what department they may be in. Electronic Reference Sources an A-Z list of information sites covering everything from consumer and employment information, to online encyclopedias and dictionaries, style manuals, weather and map sites, as well as newspapers from around the world. It is a kind of one-stop shopping site for electronic information. One particularly useful link here, and probably the best way to get to Rutgers-specific information that pertains to all aspects of student life -- from Academic Services to Financial Aid to Registration -- is to follow this pathway: Electronic Reference Sources > Rutgers Information > Rutgers >

Many of the other selections in the sidebar are devoted to particular questions. CONNECT FROM HOME, an especially important link, tells people how to access the Libraries' resources from off-site. HOW DO I...? gives answers to some of the most commonly asked questions people have about using the Libraries. The BORROWING and the DELIVERY AND INTERLIBRARY LOAN links focus on these special areas. The FACULTY SERVICES page is designed to help faculty schedule in-library instruction for their classes, arrange Media presentations, and put materials on Reserve.

REFERENCE gives the telephone numbers for all of the reference desks, as well as the hours they are staffed. It also offers th Ask A Librarian link, in case you need to email that late-night question for the librarians to answer the next day. The Libraries' subject specialists for the various disciplines are listed here too.

ALUMNI LIBRARY packages together on one page many of the Libraries' resources available via remote access to Rutgers graduates. Two important links here are Alumni Databases, and another for how to obtain an Alumni Library Card.

ABOUT THE LIBRARIES. Though no option on the Libraries' homepage is for library faculty and staff only, the one place that provides a great deal of information pertaining to people's jobs per se in the library system is the ABOUT THE LIBRARIES page. Here you will see the Library Faculty and Staff Directories link; but remember, it's quicker to use RUTGERS > SEARCH RUTGERS if all you need is a colleague's telephone number or live email address. But for job-relevant information, perhaps the most useful place of all on this page is Staff Resources, which provides links to the major departments within RUL, such as Public Services, Technical Services, Access Services, and Collection Development, among others, listing in their separate sub-pages each department's Contacts, Committees and Task Forces, Forms, Policies, Procedures, Reports, etc. Under Library Faculty, for example, you may access the bylaws, meeting minutes, procedures, and guidelines. There is a Human Resources link, as well as one for Training & Development that lists opportunities for continued learning. And under Systems there is a Best Practices link providing help on how to set up your email account, directions for loading virus-protection software, with more how-to tips to come in the near future.

The Black Top Bar

The options presented along the top bar
provide alternate routes to information also available through one or more of the selections in the sidebar. For example, Ask A Librarian can be accessed via REFERENCE below, but is presented by itself in the top bar because of its popularity. HOURS & DIRECTIONS answers many questions quickly. SEARCH WEBSITE will search all of the Libraries-created web pages, but it will not search the university-wide web pages. (For university-wide website searching there is a link to Search Rutgers.) The last option along the top bar is the helpful SITE INDEX. For people in a hurry who just are not sure where to begin, the Site Index provides an intuitive way to scroll through the possibilities in an A-to-Z fashion. Many (but not all) of the Libraries' web pages are ordered by keyword in this list. If it is movies you want, you will be referred to Media. Photocopying? You will be directed to Imaging Services. The cell phone policy is here. So too are the telephone directories, the Research Guides, Finding Aids, the Ask A Librarian FAQs, and many of the other key services and resources available in the Libraries.

It is impossible to list all of the places a person may go by starting at the Rutgers University Libraries homepage. And a person may get to the same place by more than one pathway. Hopefully this short essay may suggest some very general ways in which to begin your investigations.

Last updated: March 27, 2006
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