My Computers in Libraries 2012 Presentations

As usual, I had a great time at Computers in Libraries 2012 (#CILDC). I learned some interesting things, and met some really cool people too.

I also gave a few presentations (ok – five presentations). Here are a couple of my slidedecks and some notes people took during the presentations, so you can get a feel for my sessions. Enjoy!

1. Seven Essential Elements to an Awesome Library Website

Nicole Engard took some pretty thorough notes! This slidedeck made the main page of Slideshare, in the Featured and the Top Pro Content sections!).

2. Digital Hangouts: Reaching Outside the Building

Digital Hangouts: Reaching Outside the Building

View more presentations from David King
This slidedeck also made the main page of Slideshare, in the Top Pro Content section. Sweet!
3. The Next Big Thing – an interactive panel (Jill Hurst-Wahl’s notes).

4. Benchmark Study – Library Spending and Priorities 2012 (another panel – notes from Joanna’s Conference Reports blog).

5. Let’s Make Video! (a preconference workshop with Michael Porter. Notes from the Montana BTOP Technology Training blog).

Update those Library Policy pages!

This morning, I’ve been watching a small PR fiasco unfold. According to CBS Boston, Charlton Public Library sent a police officer to collect overdue books from a 5-year-old. The story also made the Drudge Report and the UK’s Daily Mail – gotta love that international media attention!

OK – there’s obviously a LOT more to the story that was left out. For example, there’s no mention in the article of the reporter actually talking to library staff, who could have filled in the details (they DID talk to the library – it’s mentioned in the video version of the story).

Via Facebook, the library filled in some pertinent details (i.e., what actually happened) after getting some nasty Facebook comments:

“Library materials are purchased using taxpayer dollars. We feel as library staff that it is our duty to safeguard those tax dollars. We have asked the Charlton Police Dept. to help recover items from those patrons who have been delinquent in returning materials for more than 6 months and who have at least $100 worth of unreturned materials at their homes. We follow our standard procedure of phonecalls and/or emails to remind patrons to return their materials. A bill is sent out once an item is overdue for a month. Sending out the police is a last resort effort to get back some of our most valuable items. The police visited 13 families whose outstanding balance totaled $2634.00 in library materials.” (from Charlton Public Library’s Facebook Page – also just added to the main page of the library’s website).

So good for them for using Facebook and their website to quickly respond to the story.

After I read the article, I first visited the library’s website and tried to find their fines and fees policy. Here’s all I found (until they updated the site and their Facebook Page):

  • Print and audio materials accrue a  10 cent daily overdue fine with a $3.00 maximum fine per item.
  • Dvd and video items accrue a $1.00 daily overdue fine with a maximum fine of $5.00 per item.
  • Patrons are responsible for the repair or replacement of lost or damaged items. Failure to pay fines or damages will result in the loss of borrowing privileges at C/WMARS libraries.
  • from their Library Services page

What’s missing here? Any information about the process, what happens if you don’t pay your late fees, etc – other than the “loss of borrowing privileges” info. That sounds VERY different than explanation from the library quoted above, doesn’t it?

How can this be improved? Simple – if you have a policy, a guideline, a process for fines and fees (or for anything else, for that matter) – put it on your website. Probably in a Library Policies section, or a link to appropriate places on your site. For example, the late fee policy/process could be added to your “get a library card” page.

Then, when the media calls asking why you’re sending police to a poor 5 year old child, you can explain … but you can also email them a link to the appropriate policy and process.

Question – if one of your library customers had a policy-type question, could that question be answered using your  website?

Update button by Bigstock

Three Questions every webpage should answer, #1: What can I do here?

Question #1Ever visited a webpage, then looked around, wondering “what can I do here?”

If you have … that web designer failed!

I think every webpage should answer the question “what can I do here?” either visually, or by spelling it out:

  • Visually: design in such a way that the stuff you can do on a page, like clicking a button, filling in a text box, or even just reading or watching content, is extremely noticeable. Amazon does this by using complimentary colors that “pop” out on the page. They often use blue as a header or sidebar color, but the buttons they really want you to see (ie, the “buy now” button) are orange – a complimentary color.
  • Spelling it out: Use words, colors, graphics, etc to “spell it out” for people – tell or show website visitors what to do on the page. For example, we try to do this at my library’s website. The main page directs people to “Get a Library Card,” “Donate Now,” “Find Stuff,” “Ask a Librarian,” or Subscribe to our blog posts. People know what to do on our site, because we direct them.

On your library’s website, do people know “What can I do here” when they visit the main page? How about the catalog page, the “you didn’t find anything” page, or on your blog? At the comment box? On your Facebook Page even?

Think about it … and make sure to answer the question “What can I do here?”

Our Website Redesign is Live!

My library – Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library – just released our redesigned website. Check it out!

Our new main page has three main sections that are easily seen in the graphic accompanying this post:

1. Featured Stuff. The top section is reserved for our featured stuff. We have one large featured area that can rotate with multiple . The goal there is to highlight on our 1-2 “Big, Important Things.” That could mean a library event, or it could be some new database we purchased.

There are also three smaller featured boxes that we’ll change up a bit more often. They’ll point to other cool stuff we’re doing.

And of course, the nav bar is in the top section. We went with a top horizonal nav bar this time around. It actually drops down and expands for more links (pretty much a copy of NPR‘s nav bar).

2. What’s Happening Now. The middle section highlights our content that changes often, namely our blog content and our programs. Most of this stuff, especially the blog posts, will disappear off the main page pretty fast, and that’s ok. it’s meant to hightlight “what’s happening now.”

3. Social Media. This is where we highlight our latest Twitter tweets, Youtube videos, flickr and Facebook Page.


This took us us a little over a year to complete – I started meeting with staff in February of 2010. I met with most of the library, and held some patron focus groups, too – then turned the notes from those meetings into a huge list of stuff we needed to change.

Then, we had quite a few decisions to make:

  • We had to decide how to handle content (more on that in a future post)
  • We needed to assign staff to content (still working on this one)
  • We needed to choose a CMS (we’re using WordPress this time around)
  • Visual design and navigation took awhile to get right, too

Our Creative Group (a team made up of our marketing department and our web developers) did most of this work … but the whole library helped in some way, too.

So yeah – it was a LOT of work … and it never really stops. We’re still cleaning stuff up, and will probably start tweaking pages in another week or so!

Trendy Topics on Tuesday

I’m participating in the Trendy Topics online conference this Tuesday – sign up if it looks interesting! Here’s a blurb about it:

TAP Information Services is pleased to announce the sixth in a dynamic monthly series of online workshops librarians can enjoy right at their desktops on hot topics. The latest conference on “Library Websites” is scheduled for Tuesday July 13. Aaron Schmidt, from the District of Columbia Public Library is the keynote speaker. Schmidt will speak on “Improving Library Services by Recognizing That You’re a Designer.” In this talk, he will introduce attendees to the world of user experience design. His talk will contain practical tips for making library websites easier to use and how the same methods can be used for every library service.

Other speakers for this day-long conference include:

  • David Lee King on “Creating User Experiences on the Web”
  • Karen McBride on “Adding Video and Other Media to your Library Website”
  • Chad Mairn on “Creating A Mobile Library Presence”
  • Genna Buhr on “Using for an Easy Library Website”
  • Laura Solomon on “20 Things You can Do to Make your Library Site Better Right Now”

Register at

Registration for librarians for the one day conference is $40; for students $30; and for groups $100.