Ponder This….

..about the future of the library Web site:

Facebook is the 5th most valuable US Internet company.

Use of the library web site by college students has DROPPED over 50% in the last two years.

1% of information seekers start at the library Web site.

I think it’s time the Web Redesign Team at Anytown/Anycollege Library that has been meeting these past few months stopped and seriously considered what this means. Shouldn’t part of that time and energy be focused on emerging societal trends? Web trends? User needs? How can we better position the library’s resources online? How can we embed those resources and ourselves where both are found?

I love evidence. I love using it as a starting point for making decisions, planning and evaluation. If you haven’t considered some recent findings – such as the OCLC reports – it might just be time to do so. Let me know what you think!

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5 thoughts on “Ponder This….”

  1. 1. As a reader of blogs and blogger (fpletc.typepad.com/etc_notes) interested in realizing Library 2.0 concepts, I have done quite a bit of pondering and find the prospect of moving our library in this direction a monumental task, and in my current position a sisyphean challenge.
    2. In my previous life I witnessed an private-sector industry transformed by the Internet with few traditionalists surviving. I.e. I’m keenly aware of the dangers of not adapting.
    3. I’ll keep pushing my rock…

  2. You know as well as I do that it doesn’t matter what the statistics say, the majority of librar/ians will want to send this to committee where it will be poked, prodded, changed, adjusted, changed back, discussed to death, bitched about and eventually maybe implemented half heartedly, with part of the staff saying yay! part of the staff saying this sucks and i’m not going to do it! and insufficient training in general.

  3. Committees are a good way of killing (or severely hampering) something that’s supposed to be dynamic, like a website. Our system had one through our site redesign but their role was smaller, more used for representing the various needs of library departments. If library websites are going to move out of the old view they need someone dedicated and knowledgeable not just about social web trends but about standards as well. Looks aren’t everything but I believe they do help to get people exploring and engaged in a site. But it’s hard to find a developer/designer with enough library expertise or even library staff with enough of that ‘in the trenches’ web knowledge. (At least who have a say in a site redesign anyway.) A lot of it is letting go and trusting and being willing to try something new. I find that tends to be easier to do on the web then in a physical space. There are a lot of other factors too: money, terminology, talent, etc. that have to be addressed here to get us moving in the right direction.

  4. Michael–yes. I know you’ve mentioned Hennepin County’s BookSpace positively in past posts–with its Amazon-like features that enable readers to post and share booklists with direct links to the catalog, etc.

    What was just rolled out yesterday at BookSpace is, to me, a lot more impressive (disclosure: I work for HCL, but not on BookSpace). Readers can now create profiles with blurbs about themselves/a profile photo, their booklists, and their comments all accessible from one page–and (no, the profiles weren’t the interesting part–most of us don’t exactly leap at the thought of creating yet another profile at yet another site) others can subscribe to RSS feeds of a reader’s booklists and comments as she adds them. Ex: find someone whose taste or interests are similar to yours, subscribe to his feeds, and new lists and comments appear in your feed reader whenever he makes them–no need to poke around the site to see if he’s added anything. *This* impresses me (far more than the original BookSpace rollout did). I haven’t been to Amazon in a while, but I don’t think they do this. What do we need next?–maybe the ability to comment on each other’s lists and respond to comments. So readers can ask other readers with hot taste in reading to coffee.

    “Community-building” or “building a community of readers,” etc.= often just buzzwords. If this takes off, though, it might actually be a genuine step in that direction.

  5. I think that American University is on the right track here. It’s a good start anyway. I’m currently pushing the public library that I work in to use Meebo on the front page of our website, but I’m meeting with all kind of resistance.

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