The Challenge

The Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford form the largest university library system in the United Kingdom. First opened to scholars in 1602, it incorporates an earlier library erected by the university to house books donated by Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester. The combined collections of the Bodleian Libraries number more than 11 million printed items, 50,000 e-journals and vast quantities of materials in many other formats.

Nowadays, the Bodleian Libraries are visited daily by students, scholars and visitors from all over the world who are attracted to its vast repository of current and historical information.

The Libraries engaged with Squiz to redesign and redevelop three major websites using best practice in responsive design and integrating with Funnelback search technology.

With such a deeply-rooted sense of history, the project was going to have to strike a balance between the past and the present. This meant our team would need to update the site to have a contemporary feel and world-class functionality whilst also retaining the traditional feel and historical gravitas of the Libraries.

The project was an intricate one for a number of reasons including complex and conflicting needs of a diverse content, the depth and complexity of content, the need to create a view of a modern service while respecting the tradition and history of the organisation.

The Libraries have a devolved editing team so all technical solutions implemented had to be easily manageable by editors who are not experts.

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The Solution

Building a strategy

Our team began with in-depth analysis of how users were currently accessing the websites and measured this against the goals the Libraries had set for the future. We then formulated a strategy that would satisfy students and stakeholders alike through modern design and a user-friendly interface.

Responsive design

Because universities need to keep up with the fast pace of technological change just like every other business, we implemented a responsive design that intuitively re-sizes the page based on screen size and platform. That means that all the young whippersnappers on their tablets and smartphones could always access the websites on the run.

Smart search

Search is a critical function of any website, but it's especially critical for a university library. Students rely heavily on the site for access to relevant content and materials - and they need to get that content as quickly and painlessly as possible. We integrated our enterprise search technology, Funnelback, to power the dynamic and rapid search tool to ensure that users can find what they need, whenever they need it.

Integration made easy

Squiz also delivered some notable improvements and features, such as the A-Z library and Subject Navigator, which allow the Libraries to pull content from a database directly through to the home page - cutting out unnecessary navigation through the site.

The Result

By the end of the initial project, Squiz had completely redesigned and rebuilt three Bodleian Libraries websites (www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk, www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/bodley, www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/whatson), added responsive web design and Funnelback search integration to those sites – and implemented a number of other, smaller technical solutions to support key requirements from the Libraries.

This project provided a new infrastructure for the Libraries and left them in a position to add their own internal developments to the revamped sites and transition the other 28 websites in Matrix onto the new templates.

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