The rumors of our demise have not, in this case, been exaggerated, or at least not greatly. Starting in September, we began to communicate our plans to shut down RedLightGreen, and people like Gary Price over at ResourceShelf picked up the story. Last week, after a round of emails went out to RedLightGreen users to explain how to get their citations out of the service, the news hit the blogosphere and the web in a bigger way (for example, here and here)
Although RedLightGreen will fade away, RLG Programs will continue to do work in this area, in many ways influenced by our early experience with RedLightGreen. RedLightGreen was an opportunity to confront problems with the discovery-to-delivery traverse. We started with coming to grips with these issues by taking a user-centered approach from the beginning of the project. We did some things very well on the discovery side; I’d consider our work with FRBRization and ranking by holdings to be successes in the project. In other areas RedLightGreen provides an uneven experience for our target audience. The “Get It” piece of the service doesn’t work particularly well because it is not supported by any sort of disclosure intelligence (in other words, RedLightGreen doesn’t know if an item is held your library ahead of time, it only knows how to check item by item). RedLightGreen is only able to give information about books, in a world where undergraduates increasingly are interested in relevant journal articles. And finally, RedLightGreen was a destination site — we were enough ahead of the curve that we didn’t design the system to be Web 2.0 compatible. So again, a failure of disclosure; RedLightGreen didn’t disclose itself or its services to the larger web.
We’re carrying on by working within the RLG Partnership to push forward on “discovery to delivery to use” issues. What are the areas where community work can make a difference? How can we make discovery, delivery, and use more seamless? Where are there gaps in our understanding of the user’s perspective? To find out what the main issues are in this area, we held an invitational RLG Partners workshop on September 29th, and we’re in the midst of planning a follow-on symposium for March 15-16, 2007 (to be hosted by the New York Public Library). We’ll be sharing our findings from the workshop soon, and you can also look for a fleshed out agenda for the symposium on our website. Both will be announced here.
Merrilee Proffitt is Senior Manager andprovides project management skills and expert support to institutions within the OCLC Research Library Partnership.