On Wednesday, 21st November, visitors to the Wellcome Library website will notice that we’ve made some changes. We’ve given the whole site an overhaul, with new branding, a streamlined new design and a lot of new functionality. The Library blog will be fully integrated with the site, and we’ve made the site responsive so that it should display clearly regardless of whether you’re looking at it from a desktop PC, a tablet or a phone.
We’ve also taken the opportunity to cut out a lot of out-of-date content (like most websites, we’d been good at adding stuff over the years, not so good at taking stuff away). We’re focusing on making it easier to search everything from one place, using the search box that appears on the home page and in the top right hand corner throughout the site. But if you prefer them, you can still use the old library and archive catalogues.
Why the change? Well, over the past two years we’ve been working on a project to digitise our holdings, starting with some of our key collections relating to the history of genetics. We’ll be launching this pilot project, called Foundations of Modern Genetics, in March 2013. There will be about a million pages of archives and over a thousand books available to view online. We hope this will be the start of an on-going programme that will add about 30 million pages of archives, manuscripts, books and ephemera to our website by 2020.
In order to make it easy to view, read, save and download this material we’ve built a new player, which displays all of the different content types we’ve digitised (books, archives, artworks and moving image and sound files). All of this has been done by our in-house team, with the support of three companies: Clearleft, who’ve led the user experience and design; Digirati, who actually built the site and the player for us; and Innovative Interfaces Inc., who supply our library management and search systems.
We hope that you like what we’ve done, and that you find it easy to use (and do tell us if this is the case). And despite all of our best efforts, we are sure that there will be some things that you don’t like, or which don’t work quite as they should, or which could just be improved a bit: tell us about these too, so that we can keep on improving the site for you. Finally, if things go a bit wonky from time to time over the next month or so, bear with us: we’ve added a lot of new hardware behind the scenes and despite all the testing we’ve done, there’s nothing like running an engine hard for the first time to show up where it needs tuning.