Library and Academic Services

Library and Academic Services Systems

The Amazing Race Comes to the Library

June 20, 2022

The Nursing faculty invited the RRC Polytech Library to be the sixth stop on their Amazing Race team-building exercise this spring.

Participants arrived at the Library to receive an old-fashioned card catalogue card pointing them to a book on team-building on the Library’s shelves.

A clue hidden within the books pointed the teams to the sunny side of the Library to find another stop in the children’s section (too bad it rained on Tuesday). Surrounded by picture books, the nursing faculty teams found old magazines for their next task.

Fifteen energetic teams participated in the team-building exercise that involved Skills tests, quizzes, random acts of kindness, a College locations scavenger hunt, and a group project to create a creative Representation of Teamwork.

 “We are doing this to reconnect after Covid and get people team building by having fun while working on challenges. It will also assist in getting them back on campus and remembering the amazing supports and resources we have, such as the Library!”

Kim Pinel, Nursing instructor and event organizer

Connect with Us!

Do you have an opportunity to include the Library in your team-building exercises? We make a great stop on any scavenger hunt and are happy to brainstorm activities to fit your team and event.

Connect with us through Ask Us chat, our Ask a Question form, or visit one of our service desks during regular Library hours.

Written by Rosemary Woodby – Reference Technician

Library Equipment Booking is Online!

June 8, 2022

RRC Polytech staff and students can now enjoy hassle-free scheduling with the library’s new online equipment booking system.
Find out everything you need to know about the new booking system so you can plan ahead, and be front of the line for fall bookings!

What’s available?

There are many equipment categories to browse and book online:

Where to go on to book equipment?

You can navigate to the equipment booking system from the library homepage, either by selecting Book Equipment from the icon bar on the homepage, or find it under browse and borrow from on the homepage top menu.

the icon bar from the homepage showing the location of the borrow equipment icon.


The top menu bar from the homepage showing the location of the Browse & Borrow section.

Where to pick up a booking?

The RRC Polytech Library has two locations, one at the Notre Dame Campus in CM18, and another at the Exchange District Campus in room P214. Our two libraries have different equipment collections, so make sure you select the location you’ll be picking up from, before browsing and setting up bookings.

images of the notre dame and exchange district campus libraries.

Add upcoming bookings to your outlook calendar

When you create a booking, you will receive a “Your booking has been confirmed” email with an .ics calendar file. Open the attachment and add the booking to your calendar.

Graphic showing the steps to open an attached .ics calendar file in the

Make sure to add to your safe senders list so you don’t miss any important updates or reminders about your bookings!

Cancel or Change an upcoming booking

Created a booking you no longer need? Need that equipment for a different time? You can cancel an upcoming booking anytime through the link included in your booking confirmation and reminder emails.

To change a booking, simply reply to your booking confirmation or reminder email and let us know the change, you’ll get an automatic email notification confirming when the changes have been made.

Find out more!

Need some help figuring out how to book equipment? Find out everything you need to know on the book equipment help page.

Curious about the student laptop loan program? Check out the laptop loans terms of use.

Find all the loan periods for equipment on the loan period information page.

Connect with Us!

More information about our services and supports is available on our website. You may also connect with us through Ask Us chat, our Ask a Question form, or visit one of our service desks during regular Library hours.

Written by Artemis Hedrich – Reference Technician

RefWorks Citation Manager

May 24, 2022

Keeping your research organized and writing your paper just got easier!

The Library is pleased to announce that IT Services will be pushing the RefWorks Citation Manager plug-in out to all RRC Polytech users.

Offered by the Library, RefWorks is a free, web-based reference management service that simplifies the process of research, collaboration, data organization, and writing by providing an easy-to-use tool. RefWorks lets you build a collection of customized references (and accompanying PDFs), share, annotate, comment, and import directly into your writing.

The RefWorks Citation Manager plug-in integrates your RefWorks account into Office 365, allowing you to insert in-text citations easily and automatically generate your reference lists as you write with a click of your mouse.


  • Visit the RefWorks guide for text-based and video tutorials on using RefWorks.
  • Watch the RefWorks training session on the various tools you can use when writing a research paper, including RefWorks Citation Manager for Office 365, Write-N-Cite (older Word), ProQuest RefWorks for Google Docs, and Quick Cite.
  • Contact us, click Ask Us on our homepage, or visit one of our service desks for one-on-one assistance.

Written by Rosemary Woodby, Reference Technician

Standards & Codes

January 12, 2022

Do you need a standard or code? You may have free access through an RRC Polytech Library database subscription. Find them on the Library and Academic Services website under Databases.

ASHRAE – Techstreet ASHRAE is a society of heating, refrigerating, and air-conditioning engineers that shape industry through research. This database gives access to their books, standards, and guidelines. A limited number of standards are available through the library’s subscription.

ASTM Compass

ASTM develops and publishes technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services. The Compass database gives full-text access to the ASTM Book of Standards, Research Reports, and related material.

Chartered Professional Accountants Handbook

Subscription to the CPA Canada Standards and Guidance Collection (CPACHB).

CSA Group

A comprehensive selection of CSA Group’s more than 3,000 published standards & codes.

Includes technical and management standards to improve safety, health, the environment, and economic efficiency in Canada and beyond.


A database of e-books covering a variety of engineering subjects. Includes a variety of engineering, electrical, mechanical, construction codes, standards, and guides.

National Research Council Codes

Access to the National Building Code of Canada, National Fire Code of Canada, National Plumbing Code of Canada, National Energy Code of Canada, and more.

Since the start of COVID, codes and users guides published by the National Research Council of Canada are available directly through the NRC Publications Archive in free electronic format.

Written by Bettina Allen, Reference & Circulation Coordinator

Testing the Library and Academic Services Website

November 17, 2021

Earlier in the fall term, we arranged for a small sample of students to review and critique our new Library and Academic Services website. Since we had redesigned the site last summer, we were wondering how it was performing.

In our site redesign we used principles of user centric design. In a nutshell, we attempted to create a site for our users, who were defined in two personas: “Average Student User” and “Average Instructor User.”

This particular test targeted students.

Our Academic Support Coordinator, Melissa Coyle, arranged for meetings with students. Melissa designed the test questions (with input from Linda Fox and Mark Nelson), and she facilitated the meetings, which were formatted in a focus group format, and included a standardized set of questions and a slate of tasks she asked students to perform on our web site.

The students were chosen from different programs and with varying tech literacy and language skills.

There were two sessions for each student. An individual meeting (in Webex) where each peer tutor met with Melissa for 1-hour to complete a list of twenty-three tasks. Afterward, all students met in a group meeting, where the whole group met (in Webex) and discussed, provided feedback, and shared ideas.

In some cases the questions were designed to discover the accuracy of our student persona. In other cases the tasks were prescribed to see if students could satisfy a task, again based on their persona. I.e. Average students wants to “Discover and attend Library and ASC workshops.”

The facilitator used some “Guiding Questions,” to focus on some specific topics:

  • Is the website well-organized and easy to navigate?
  • What do students expect to find on the website?
  • Which features and tools are most helpful?
  • Are the names for each service clear?
  • What tasks are most difficult for students and how can we fix this?

We immediately learned that students felt our top navigation menu was well-named, well-organized, and easy to navigate. The search panel was well-noticed and easy to interact with, and use. Students felt the icon panel presented a clear way to navigate to important places, and it broke down language barriers.

In response to the question, “What do students expect to find on the website?” we discovered many points that were contained in our Student Persona. For example “conducting research for a paper that requires sources for information,” “asking a question,” learning about “copyright,” discovering “Library hours and locations,” “finding a tutor,” and “learning about Library services.”

Students felt the icon panel presented a clear way to navigate to important places, and it broke down language barriers.


The facilitator asked the students to attempt a slate of twenty-three tasks. The tasks were important, because they showed whether a student could actually use the website for the purpose it was intended. Interestingly, the technology for accomplishing this type of test was made easy by WebEx and the ability of the student to share their screen while the facilitator monitored their progress.

Our facilitator was able to follow the student’s progress as they worked through web site tasks. Problem areas became obvious, and changes required for resolution sometimes became apparent. (Note: Facilitator and student images have been obscured)

In our testing, some of the tasks we asked students to complete immediately indicated that adjustments were necessary.

In trying to find the “Inter-Library Loan” service, we discovered that students simply identified it as a “request” service, which we also have a page for on our web site. Of course, from a student’s point-of-view these are both “requesting” services, and should be found in the same place. It seems it is only Library staff who consider these two services to be vastly different.

Our new icon bar was well used, however we discovered some changes were necessary. For example, the “Book Equipment” icon took our patrons to a booking form, when it would have been better to send users to a page that described what equipment can be booked (which has a link to the booking form.)

On pages like “Browse & Borrow,” we discovered there is a perception of the importance of the photo tiles being much greater than the icon panels. We thought this was probably true, but it just confirmed that we need to keep important items as photo tiles and move less-important options into the icon panel area.

We also discovered that “Guides” is a generic term used by Library staff, and a student does not know to click “Guides” unless an Instructor had previously used that term to describe the content on the web site. Students felt that the term “Program Guides” might alert them that there are program specific resources on the site.

Students looked for past events on our web site, especially when looking for workshops or sessions that may have been recorded. We did not have a good way for students to accomplish this task.

It was not all bad. We did discover that students found many tasks easy to complete. (Graphic by Melissa Coyle)

It was also noticed that the easiest to complete tasks had an icon or image tile available on the homepage, demonstrating the power of these sub-navigation areas.


When we build a web site, we think we can do plenty by considering how users will interact with the site. However, until we have some real users try the site, and we watch how they do it, we cannot know the whole story.

At RRC we did this testing with a relatively small set of four students. Truth be told, we may have learned more if we had included more students in our test. However, a study by the Nielsen Norman Group discovered that the amount discovered in such a test does not greatly increase when you add more individuals to the test. In fact, they found the magic number is five.

So, grab some users and test your web site. You will learn so much!

Mark Nelson
Library Systems Specialist
Red River College Polytechnic

Library Website Built with Users in Mind

September 15, 2021

New Library Website - September 2021

Last spring, if you were to look at our old Library website, you would be looking at a somewhat dated “Library-centric” web, with two Academic Support departments, and new features, i.e., LibAnswers and LibCal, tacked on. We knew our web site was due to be reorganized, and at the same time given a fresh look and feel. As with many changes, the summer period  gave us a window of opportunity when there was a break in classes. How could we take advantage of this opportunity and create a new-look website designed with our users in mind?

User-centric Design

We began by looking toward user-centric design principles that have been the cornerstone of effective web design for decades. Some web sites look great, but are completely ineffective to their users. We wanted to avoid this, and achieve a greater level of usability. So, we began by studying users.

On our Library web site, the greatest metric we had were analytics of what users did on our site. Where did they go? What did they click on? Generally, top traffic resources on our website were: OneSearch, A-Z List, Ask Us, the Academic Services landing page, Tutoring, Supports for Students, Library Subject Guides, Workshops, Self-Directed Learning Modules, Stem Centre, and College Readiness.

We took this information as a starting point, and began to develop two personas that represent Library web users: Average Student User and Average Instructor User.

Built with Library users in mind

Average Student User
wants to…

  • Average Student UserDiscover and borrow Library materials.
  • Browse for Academic Supports.
  • Access digital resources such as electronic articles and databases.
  • Discover and attend Library and ASC workshops.
  • Refer to a course-related subject guide.
  • Access Tutoring services.
  • Access a Library service.
  • See when the Library is open.
  • Find study space.
  • Book AV equipment, laptops and chargers.
  • Locate an instructor-recommended resource.
  • Ask a question or get help.
  • Learn how to cite.

Average Instructor User
wants to…

  • Average Instructor UserDiscover Library materials and resources for planning, research
    and teaching.
  • Set up course reserves.
  • Access a Library service such as ILL or Digitization.
  • Refer their students to Library or ASC workshops.
  • Refer their students to specific ASC resources.
  • Request materials for their courses and students, i.e., Suggest a Purchase.
  • Book AV equipment, laptops and chargers.
  • Find copyright information and help.
  • Get Academic Integrity advice and assistance.
  • Ask a question or get help.

Redesign Process

With these two personas in mind, we began a three phase process.

Phase 1: Content reorganization. A cross section of library staff were brought together to make decisions about the web site organization and hierarchy. With our user personas in mind, staff individually performed card sorting exercises and compared results. This group also investigated other academic Library web sites. The final product was a new main menu structure, built with users in mind.

New Library Nav Bar

Phase 2: Home page re-design. With our users in mind, a second working group reviewed the information and features on the current Library home, and formulated a plan to build a more modern and concise home page. This group also took the time to review other academic websites, and recommended features which we could adopt for our new home page.

Phase 3: Overall web site re-skin. A smaller team of experts worked on a new header, footer and colours for the new site. The goal was to give the new Library web site a fresh look, new colours, and improvement in accessibility.

A cornerstone of this project was to involve many people from across Library and Academic Services. Each one of the above teams consisted of different people, thus enhancing our staff’s ability to influence decisions made in the new web site design. Their awesome contributions are reflected throughout the new web site.

Technical Details

The website is built on the LibGuides CMS platform by Springshare. Pages on this platform are responsive (mobile-friendly) through the Bootstrap framework. We have also taken advantage of other Springshare platforms such as LibAnswers, LibWizard and LibCal. We needed to add custom CSS and JavaScript for many of the features we built, however the Springshare platform allows for a sufficient level of customization.

The site is built with accessibility in mind, and accomplished through accessibility features built in to the LibGuides platform, and attention to detail in the added customizations. Our current home page tests as 100% accessible in the Google Lighthouse tool.

Looking Forward

We are planning focus groups this fall, where we hope to further determine how our patrons use our web site, and gauge the effectiveness of our new site design. In doing so, we expect slight revisions to the current web site, and an update of our personas.

Story by Mark Nelson ~ Library Systems Specialist