Tech Tuesdays

Website Usability Testing

One of the most useful tools I’ve found for creating usable Library website content is website usability testing. At first, I was intimidated by the prospect of doing usability testing. Then I learned more by reading Steve Krug’s Rocket Surgery Made Easy, observing usability testing facilitated by Matthew Reidsma at Grand Valley State University, and taking an online course with Rebecca Blakiston.

At my college, we’ve done usability testing in a variety of ways. We started out doing formal testing where a group of staff were in one room to observe testing in another room via online conferencing software. More recently, we moved to more informal testing. Members of our web team go out on campus in pairs to find a few students, staff, or faculty to test. One staff member is note taker and the other is the facilitator. We don’t record the tests, just take notes. Then we meet up as a group and discuss what we observed and decide what changes to make. During the pandemic, we did testing completely online via web conferencing. 

Last semester, I started doing short usability tests to onboard new circulation staff members. I used to meet new staff for 30 minutes to introduce them to the website by walking them through the website page by page. After doing this twice, I decided instead to do a short usability test as part of the onboarding. I explain what usability tests are and that we do them each semester to get feedback on our website. Then after the test, we discuss any challenges the staff member faced completing the tasks. Each time, I have found at least one small change I can make to improve the website. The best part is that later in the semester, these staff members have contacted me to share additional problems users were having with the website.

In the future, we’ll continue with informal, in person usability testing, as well as some online testing. It is not a huge time commitment, and it helps staff who create web content see that less is more on the web. Doing tests with around 5 participants can yield helpful results. It also is an opportunity to reach out to people who use the website (or even those who haven’t used the website) to get feedback. You can learn more about usability testing on my college’s Usability Testing LibGuide. It includes templates for notetakers, sample testing scenarios, and materials to train facilitators.


CJCLS Events in June

There are no upcoming events at this time

Tech Tuesdays

Take the No Mouse Challenge

I recently subscribed to Minnesota IT Services’ Digital Accessibility newsletter and last month I did the “no mouse challenge.” The idea is that you try to do your job for 15 minutes on your computer without using a mouse. You can print out a Keyboard Shortcuts Quick Card (PDF) to help you. I searched for a newspaper article in my library’s discovery system, booked a study room, and looked up the library’s weekend hours without using a mouse.

black computer mouse on white table
Black Computer Mouse on Table” by dejankrsmanovic is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

All functionality on a website should be available without the use of a mouse.

Keyboard Compatibility video by WC3’s Web Accessibility Initiative

This brief video above explains why keyboard compatibility is “essential for people with disabilities and useful for all.” The WC3 Keyboard Compatibility webpage explains that a variety of people “depend on this feature:

  • People with physical disabilities who cannot use the mouse.
  • People who are blind, and cannot see the mouse pointer on the screen.
  • People with chronic conditions, such as repetitive stress injuries (RSI), who should limit or avoid use of a mouse.”

Learn more about keyboard accessibility on WebAIM.

Visit Minnesota IT Services Digital Accessibility website for accessibility resources and to sign up for their monthly Digital Accessibility newsletter.

Take the “no mouse challenge” and share what you learn about your library’s website or your LibGuide. Are there improvements you can make based on what you experience?


Upcoming Events

Here are some upcoming free, online, professional development opportunities. Sign up to attend whatever catches your interest!

CJCLS Section Event

Making Connections: In consideration of career ladders in undergraduate LIS education – Monday, April 25, 2022 from 2-3pm ET

Organized by the Committee on Library Staff Education

Ithaka S+R Event

Assessing the evolution of community college library mission – Tuesday, April 19, 2022 from 2-3pm, ET

Organized by Ithaka S+R as part of the series of Conversations on Community College Library Strategy and Collaboration

20th Annual Information Literacy Summit

Expanding the Conversation: Digital, Media, and Civic Literacies In and Out of the Library – Friday, April 29, 2022

Presented by DePaul University Library, Moraine Valley Community College Library & College of DuPage Library

Tech Tuesdays

Chat Waterfalls

I wrote a previous post about strategies for using chat in online library instruction. In December, I participated in a professional development workshop at my college and the presenter used what she called a “chat waterfall.” Since then I have been experimenting with this method in library instruction and online meetings.

Victoria Falls waterfall
“The Smoke that Thunders – Victoria Falls” by is marked with CC BY-ND 2.0.

The difference between regular chat and a chat waterfall is that you ask participants to type their responses in the chat, but tell them to wait to press Enter. When you say Go, a flood of responses come in the chat. I have found that there is greater participation in chat with this method as it is less intimidating to send a response when everyone isn’t focused on reading it. Also, as a participant, you don’t need to be concerned with comparing your response with others before you submit. So, there may be multiple responses that are similar, but there is greater participation.

I’ve used the chat waterfall in library instruction to elicit keywords about a topic or to ask students to share research tips or questions. Recently, I used it as an icebreaker at the beginning of a library team meeting.

I adapted some slides with instructions with permission from science teacher, Mari Venturino. Feel free to use the slides as you wish. I’d love to hear how you have used chat waterfalls.

Collections Events Leadership Research

Upcoming Events about Community College Libraries

CJCLS Section Events

Diversity & Collection Development – Friday, March 18, 2022 from 2-3pm ET

Coffee & Conversations: Accessibility in OER – Monday, April 4, 2022 from 1-2pm ET

Ithaka S+R Events

Join an upcoming virtual convening organized by Ithaka S+R.

Learn more and register: Conversations on Community College Library Strategy and Collaboration

  • Emergency and emerging technology programs at community college libraries – Tuesday, March 22, 2-3pm, ET
  • “When in doubt, go to the library”: Navigating the community college ecosystem – Tuesday, April 5, 2022 from 2-3pm, ET
  • Assessing the evolution of community college library mission – Tuesday, April 19, 2022 from 2-3pm, ET
Presentations Tech Tuesdays

Presentation Templates

I want to share a great source of presentation templates, Slides Carnival. The website provides free PowerPoint and Google Slides themes for your presentations. You can search the themes by color or by categories such as playful, inspirational, creative, or formal.

The templates are free to use with a Creative Commons License and created by Jimena, a designer living in Spain.

Some of my favorites templates so far include:

The website also has presentation design tips. If you need help finding images for your presentation, check out my previous finding images post.

It is always good to have a backup plan if you have technical difficulties with your presentation slides. In graduate school, I attended a training about what to do if technology doesn’t work. As luck would have it, the campus network was down during the presentation and the speaker didn’t have a backup plan. In contrast, I attended a recent presentation online at my campus’ professional activity days and when the speaker’s slides didn’t work, she didn’t miss a beat and worked through the problem by paraphrasing her slides and asking participants to respond to questions in the chat. It is always good to have a backup plan!

What presentation templates or tips do you have to share?

Leadership Research

Apply for the Medical Library Association (MLA) 2022 Research Training Institute

Apply for the Medical Library Association (MLA) 2022 Research Training Institute

Are you a library professional who wants to take your research skills to the next level? Do you have a brilliant idea or research topic that you want to pursue but do not know where to start and need support to carry it through? The MLA Research Training Institute (RTI) is a unique, highly effective, and collaborative online research and support program. RTI assessment findings show that the RTI learning model is sound, effective, and increases the research skills, confidence, and productivity of participants. Librarians of all levels of professional experience who provide health information services, collections, and support, and want to contribute to improving library and health care outcomes, are encouraged to apply to the RTI program.

The institute is a one-year online program that consists of a series of online modules in advanced research methods, mentoring by faculty experts and peer coaches, preparing and implementing a research project, and an opportunity to present findings at the MLA ’23 annual conference. RTI ‘22 features an expanded research curriculum and greater affordability and flexibility for participants. Learn more about RTI program details.

RTI Applications will be open until January 12, 2022

Applications are now being accepted through January 12, 2022, for the 2022 cohort of RTI research fellows. Accepted applicants will be notified in March 2022. See the RTI website for eligibility requirements and selection criteria. The institute offers many scholarship opportunities for professionals from small libraries, engaging in DEI research, and for those with limited financial means.

Discover and nurture your research talents! Learn how to conduct and lead quality research projects. Meet like-minded research colleagues, make lifelong friends, gain research confidence, form research collaborations, and help end-users improve health and wellness! Apply today!

Read about the RTI success story.

CJCLS member, Sandra McCarthy, was a 2019 RTI fellow. The study of community college health sciences librarians’ perceptions was the focus of her research and her research findings, Health sciences librarian competency perceptions: A survey of national community college librarians were published in the January 2021 issue of the Journal of the Medical Library Association.

The RTI fellow program was a very positive experience for me. The program provides you with training in research, an assigned mentor to meet with during the program as well as continued support during your research project, and the friendship with a network of librarians.

Sandra McCarthy, AHIP, faculty librarian at Washtenaw Community College

The project is made possible in part by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

If you would like to learn more about the institute, please visit the RTI website or contact Project Director, Susan Lessick, AHIP, FMLA at

Tech Tuesdays Technology

Finding Images

Pileated woodpecker on a tree
Pileated Woodpecker by Suzanne Bernsten

Need to find images for a presentation, blog post, or website? I wanted to share some websites I like to use to find images. Please share additional suggestions in the comments!

Creative Commons
Search websites for images you can share, use, and remix. Creative Commons allows creators of works to release them into the public domain or license works by placing some restrictions on their use.

Images that Reflect Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
List of repositories of free or openly licensed photos and images featuring people of color, trans, non-binary, indigenous, and other diverse population groups.

All photos are free for any personal and commercial purpose.

Free, high resolution photos for commercial or non-commercial purposes.


CJCLS Events in November 2021

What You Need to Know: Creating OER at Community College Level

This is one of a series of mini-workshops that highlight important open educational resources (OER) topics. All community college librarians are encouraged to register for a session(s) that interest you. […]

Find out more