What You Should Be Able to Do on a Library Website…01.04.09

4 01 2009

Here is an excerpt from some good thoughts http://www.davidleeking.com/2009/01/04/doing-stuff-at-the-librarys-website/  from David Lee King on what you should be able to do on a library website:

“Here’s something to ponder, next time you’re looking for something to ponder. What can you actually DO at your website? Can you do most of the the real “stuff” that your library offers as activities?

‘Well duh David, of course we can – we have a catalog…’ you might say. Hmm…

If I walk into a library today, here are some things I can do there:

  • check out a book
  • read a book or magazine
  • take notes and do research
  • put a public PC on reserve for later
  • pester the reference librarian with questions
  • check stuff out when I’m done
  • attend a training session or a fun program

Just a normal day at the library, right? How about at your library’s website? If your website is a ‘traditional’ library website, there’s not much actual stuff to do. A traditional website exists mainly to point you to ‘the real thing’ – the actual building and the catalog (in many cases anyway – not everyone is automated, yet!).

Anyone see a problem with that? The library can be much larger than its physical building, and considerably extend its reach without the building as the main focal point for library services…

Does your organization primarily exist in the brick and mortar world? And don’t tell me ‘well, yeah David, we have a website.’ That’s not good enough anymore. What can you actually DO at your website?

Yes, in the library world, you probably have a library catalog in place, and some databases. Maybe an ‘email a question’ service (‘We’ll get back to you within 48 hours (excluding holidays and weekends)’ – quote from a library’s Ask a Librarian service).

But what else? Can you browse your collection? Probably not. Can you subscribe to feeds, so you can get updates whenever a page is updated with new info? Maybe. Can you instantly contact a librarian to ask your burning question or get clarification through IM, chat, email, or Twitter? Probably not.

What if I want to start a conversation or attend a program? Can I do that at your digital branch?

Why not?”

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