In the late Nineties academic libraries moved from the management of their websites to the management of extremely complex library portals. In the first part of the paper the author discusses the conceptual evolution of library portals from portals conceived as gateways to selected resources (TEL or INTUTE) to more interactive portals enhanced by sophisticated tools such as metasearchers. In the second part of the article the attention of the reader is drawn on the way electronic resources are mainly accessed and organized in academic library portals: A-Z and subject lists, manually or automatically produced, OPACs and more recently developed metasearchers, which have introduced a user-centered conceptual design in library portals. Nonetheless there is nowadays a growing awareness that metasearch is only a partial solution. As a matter of fact library portals appear to be oriented more on collections and internal organization than on users needs. Academic libraries should concentrate much more on users learnflow, researchflow and lifeflow to be where users are. In this way they can improve effectiveness of their portals and enhance access to their resources.
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