How Engaging is Your Website?

I just read Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries, by the Aspen Institute.

On page 15, they talked about the library as place. I was struck by this:

The library as it exists within virtual space must be considered as a wholly independent but highly integrated experience; that is, the library’s virtual presence must be as engaging as its physical space and fully serve the library’s mission built around equitable access, learning and civic development.

Wow. Did you catch that? ” … as engaging as its physical space…” and “fully serve the library’s mission …”

Are we there yet? Look around your building, your service points, your programs. Your most popular stuff. Then look at your digital spaces.

Are we there yet? I don’t think so.

Pic by Quinn Dombrowski

Nice Chicago Tribune article about Using the Digital Library

I was recently interviewed by Greg Karp at the Chicago Tribune about digital libraries – ebooks, streaming videos, downloadable music, websites, etc.

Karp’s angle with the story is that a modern library can save people money. Why buy when you can borrow?

It’s an interesting read, and could have a couple of uses for you:

  • Different marketing angle (saving money, using free stuff, etc)
  • Showcasing the different types of offerings at a modern library (3D printers, ebooks, downloadable music, and … cakepans!)

Best part of the article? At the end, Karp mentions the value of librarians:

Perhaps the most valuable resource in any library is a librarian, who can help you find what you need. Nowadays, you might get that help electronically, via email, chat, text message and, increasingly, social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Anyway – enjoy!

Logo from the Chicago Tribune

Using Business Cards to Promote econtent

My library has a bunch of econtent – services like Freegal, OneClick Digital, Hoopla, OverDrive, Zinio, Treehouse, and Mango Languages.

Each of these tools point to real content – movies, music, books, magazines, and classes – but they live on the digital branch.

Our marketing department created a fun way to promote these econtent services by using business cards.

Each card has a word and an image on the front, and a brief description and a URL to the service on the back of the card.

We are using these cards to promote a bunch of services:

  • Music – promotes Freegal
  • Audiobooks – promotes OneClick Digital
  • Video – promotes Hoopla
  • Ebooks – promotes Overdrive
  • Language – promotes Mango
  • Magazines – promotes Zinio
  • Design & Program – promotes Treehouse

The idea? Place these cards around the building, hand them out at events, etc. Basically – give them to customers, so customers know about all this cool content we have. It’s one way of getting content that lives on the digital branch “out of the building.”

You can see the other cards we created over on my Flickr account.

Update: And here’s the back of the Music card, as an example of the info we provide.

Online Storytimes by Wake County Public Libraries ROCK

Kevin Smith just pointed me to Wake County Public Libraries‘ series of online storytime videos. Wake County made them to support their local Every Child Ready to Read initiative.

They’re nicely done – go watch them! Here’s the link to their Youtube Playlist for all the videos. The video embedded in this post is an animated sing-along song video … and now that song is going to be stuck in my head the rest of the day. Can anyone say “earworm?”

And something to think about – we’re making digital branches. How are your YA/Kids/teens/etc services represented on your library’s digital branch? Currently, my library’s kiddo population is represented, but it’s sorta spotty (and we have an emerging plan to fix that – our Teen and Tween pages are the start of that). How about you? Some things to think about:

  • Are your webpages focused on kids? Or is it really just for parents?
  • Are your in-house activities mirrored online, like Wake County’s storytime videos? Or craft time? etc?
  • Games, fun stuff, goofy interesting facts? Or … homework help? Probably need both.
  • Older kids (think 13 and up) – social media? That the kids actually use?
  • Staff who know how to do all the above activities, or a way to train them?

How about you? What cook stuff for kids and teens does your library do on their digital branch? I’d love for you to share!