[innerindex]Part of the Transformation Track, Transforming Your Library, and Your Library’s Future, with Technology, program coordinators Alan Gray and John Blyberg (both of Darien Public Library) described it like this:
Technology can transform your library and its services, as it is transforming the lives of your patrons. From do-it-now technology improvements to next-generation implementations, from software to SOPACs, from in-your-face competition to over-the-horizon transformations, three accomplished experts will instruct, enlighten and challenge you to use technology to make your library more relevant to your patrons — today and tomorrow.
I was among Lori Ayre, who showed how automation solutions can transform your physical library, and Roy Tennant, who addressed issues of technology leadership. My own presentation (slides available in QuickTime and PDF) focused on how we can leverage web technologies to build valuable online libraries that serve our communities.
Your library is more than books…your website should be too
Recent attention to our catalogs is leading to much needed improvements in their usability, findability, and remixability, but a catalog does not reflect the full breadth of programs, services, and answers our users value. We need to look carefully at our entire web presence and leave nothing behind.
Your website is not a marketing tool…it’s a service point.
Our users don’t care about us, they care about what we can do for them. We need to go beyond describing the resources available in our brick and mortar branches and deliver easy to use, self service resources online. Every search is a question, we need to deliver answers.
Culture is local…so are our libraries.
Libraries face stiff competition from publishers, online and local retailers, and even other libraries in delivering mass culture materials to users, but each library stands alone in its efforts to preserve and disseminate locally unique resources. Local history is a good place to start, but libraries that become experts in helping local businesses or community groups become finable and usable online will be well valued.
- A catalog mockup that gives more than just a list of matching books.
- A live beta of Plymouth State University’s new website and catalog that tries to answer questions asked in the search. Search for “reserves” (or “course reserves” or a variety of other forms) and it directs you to the course reserves form or to the reserves request forms for instructors. Search for “anthropology” and it directs users to our subject guide and to our Ask a Librarian service.
- Tamworth Library is posting (anonymized) answers on their website to questions that come in from patrons, such as this one about what gardening materials are in the collection. Posting like that helps answer questions for users who might ask a search engine but haven’t asked their librarians about. And because the library’s events are such an important feature of their services, the events calendar is posted in the sidebar to every page and available as RSS.
- Tamworth’s website has also become an important feature of the community (take a look at these comments), and their hoping to put online the unique pieces of local history in their collection. Thomas Ford Memorial Library in Western Springs has shown how much patrons near and far appreciate libraries for exposing local materials with their obituary index.
- And the engagement of the community in a local history collection can enrich our knowledge of events and places that official historians didn’t record. The comments at Beyond Brown Paper, a collection of photos from a paper manufacturer in northern New Hampshire, reveal the rich history of the mill, the town, and its people.