Building a platform for health libraries and information services
The Health Libraries and Information Services Directory (HLISD) is a service listing platform that covers health information services in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland including NHS, Higher Education, professional bodies, voluntary organisations and government listings.
We were tasked with developing a new and improved version that offered a better user experience and enabled future developments of the platform.
The main aims of the platform are to make HLISD information easy to find and easy to update and to ensure the database remains the definitive source of data for health information services.
We developed a fully-featured directory using an open source framework (Ruby on Rails) that makes it easy to grow and extend the platform in the future.
The directory provides a single location for people to access contact and collection information about health library and information services, including
- Contact number
- Staff information
- Opening hours
- Location details
- And more
The content is managed and maintained with the support of a network of content editors from the different health organisations. The data included on the directory also helps editors access and manage their own regional and local information.
Creating a revised, modern platform
The new directory needed to be launched quickly so we worked closely with the HLISD committee and drew on information gathered from regional and local editors as well as past user surveys and feedback gathering exercises.
To ensure that the platform can continue to be developed and features rolled out as the role of the directory expands, we built the new directory in Ruby on Rails with a PostGres database.
The platform was designed to be easy to use and with a clean, modern interface that works well on any kind of web device.
Making information easy to find
The directory provides a number of ways for users to navigate and explore the listings. The initial version launched with a simple keyword search as well as extensive browsing options (e.g. via network, region, staff and alphabetically). An advanced search option was rolled out using feedback from users as well as the usage data from the searches conducted.
The new platform also includes location maps to help users find library and information services. This information is geocoded automatically based on the service address information provided.
Library and information services can also now link their social media and web presence and highlight different ways of interacting with their services.
Keeping information up-to-date
With the admin dashboard, editors are given access to their directory listings and are able to manage staff listings as well as local editor access. We developed the dashboard with flexibility and ease-of-use in mind and aim to continue to roll out new features to help editors manage and get the most value out of their data and provide new ways for people to discover and interact with their library services.
Continuing to support and develop the directory
We continue to work closely with the HLISD committee as well as with users of the platform to deliver a great user experience for both editors and visitors alike.