Thursday, April 13, 2006

Guide to the Enterprise Portal Solution, Part 3 (or, What are Rooms?)

Genealogy & Family History Room screen shot
Many references to the Enterprise Portal Solution, on this blog as well as in SirsiDynix's documentation, refer to "Rooms/EPS," or sometimes "EPS/Rooms." While EPS and Rooms are not the exact same thing, they are closely integrated, and the EPS interface is dependent on the Rooms technology platform.

The Rooms concept adopts the idea of physical spaces in libraries which house specific collections or services (think the Memphis Room, or the Popular Library at Central) and extends this as a metaphor for virtual spaces on the Library's web site. This is in fact very similar to what our web site already offers with subject-specific areas like the Virtual Health Information Center; however, Sirsi's Rooms offer a degree of integration between web sites, databases, and the library catalog which we have not had before.

The basic Rooms/EPS installation comes with a Reading Room, which offers users a virtual location to learn about book clubs as well as offering other readers' advisory information, and an Audiences Room, with special areas for Businesses, Kids, and Adult Learners/ESL. MPLIC has also purchased the Rooms Starter Pack, which includes an additional 10 Rooms: Careers & Employment, Parenting, Genealogy, Entertainment, Reference, Personal Finance & Investing, Travel & Tourism, Home Improvement, Family Health & Fitness, and Food & Drink. Each of these Rooms features content selected and organized by library and content professionals at SirsiDynix.

Even more significantly for MPLIC, however, we are acquiring the Rooms Builder, a Web-based tool that will allow our library staff to edit the "starter" Rooms, adding and subtracting sites and other content, as well as to create new Rooms, all without requiring knowledge of HTML. MPLIC web content providers will be able to pick and choose from the Sirsi Rooms content to supplement our current content, most of which will be migrated over from our current site to the Rooms environment. We also anticipate that staff will be able to update their content themselves without the intervention of the Computer Resources Librarian or Electronic Services Coordinator. (And, incidentally, we are not required to use the term "Rooms" on our site if we choose not to do so.)

It's probably easier to understand Rooms through experience rather than by explanation. I encourage you to take a test drive of the EPS/Rooms interface, either through the links above or through either of these links to the home pages for two Sirsi demonstration sites (which are almost but not quite identical):

(Please note that these sites are for staff use only.)

Next: What is SingleSearch?

Image courtesy SirsiDynix

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