As we all know by now, the web redesign is in the works. Although we are not exactly a tiny, underfunded library system, I thought it would be a good idea to attend this session, because part of the description read that it would "provide information about dozens of quick and free services that any library can add to its website to reach the customers."
So, here are some tips that were provided that I considered to be particularly useful for our system:
1. Communication Tips
Instant Messaging - chat with the customers, online reference.
Meebo Me Widget - make yourself visible, even when you are offline. Sort of a mini Ask-Us-Now.
Text Messaging - talk to and assist patrons via text as they are using the site.
VOIP - voice-chat with patrons over the computer as they are using the site.
Video Chat - talk to and assist patrons over the computer as they are using the site with a visual of the librarian.
Example: San Jose Public Library uses IMing. One of their common questions: "Are you a robot?" Expect that, and just answer that you are not. They want to know that they are engaged with a real person.
2. Don't pay for images (try these for searchable public domain images):
Flickr Creative Commons Search
Wikipedia's Public Domain Image Search.
3. Offer Tools and Mashups: Use or promote the use of these tools to enhance the user's experience at your site:
Library Elf - library account tracking
Library Lookup - bookmarklet that looks up any webpage information in your library's catalog
LibX Toolbar - like google toolbar for your library. Patron installs it into her personal browser.
4. Making Dynamic Lists - don't make booklists in Word anymore. So Long to the .doc book lists.
5. Use Blogs or Wikis (Website Redesign Committee Note: Ann Arbor Library was presented as an example!)
Recommended movies, music, books
Encourage full staff participation (all levels)
Use an entry template, tags, categories
Welcome customer comments (they are commenting on us in other places anyway)
6. Give your Library a Face Using Flickr or other photo site. Create Flickr accounts and make links to these accounts known to customers by providing them on the web page.
Show library's interior and exterior (photo tour)
Anything is possible
To advertise new services
Do more - use tools provided on Flickr and other photo sites to create flair (items with library logo on them) to distribute and replace free pencils with library logos, and so forth.
Moo: calling cards
HP: Posters, books, photo cubes
Qoop: calendars keychains, etc
Zazzle: shirts bags mousepads, mugs and more
Imagekind: print photos on canvas
7. Provide audio content
Podcasts from library website can be done easily and cheaply. You need:
People who can talk and or sing
Digital microphones cheap/free
Audacity (free hosting site)
Other helpful audio tools (google them to find out more):
Everyzing $ turns audio into text
TextAloud $ turns text into audio
Odiogo (Free) turns text into audio files, create a listen button for blogs
8. Provide video content
People who aren't camera shy
Digital video camera
Avidemux editing software (free)
Blogger Blog (free)
9. Ideas for video casts
Manchester public library does teen book reviews.
DOK Library videocasts community events reports.
Worthington Libraries presents classes and events.
Curtin University library videocasts classes and lectures.
Also, put your content on YouTube! It's where the patrons already hang out.
8: Exploit the blog as a format
Don't call it a blog - may leave some people cold.
Encourage customer comments - you can always edit them if they are inappropriate.
Reuse content across blogs, social networks.
Repeat important posts over time to maximum number of people who see/hear it.
Use Wordpress and Blogger: free, easy, feature-rich
9. Make RSS your BFF
10. Help your catalog; it needs it. Don't rely on catalog software that really doesn't work for you or your customers! Check out:
Open source options:
Librarything for libraries
11. Be Present in Social Networks - show the customer that the library is part of the real world, not the stuffy, inaccessable place that people sometimes still associate with libraries.
be reliable, consistent
12. Try a Wiki: with multiple authors, ongoing creation.
An example of a wiki application would be Subject guides (pathfinders) made available to the public.
13. Use Engaged Patrons.org - a free and low cost web 2.0 service for libraries run by Glenn Peterson, Hennepin County Library. Provides lots of resources that libraries can plug into their websites/catalogs to make site more 2.0 and patron-friendly.
Library events calendar with online regitration
Library blogs --
14. Use design tools
15. Use other free tools
16. Exploit image generators
17. Recommend websites easily (del.icio.us)
18. Microblog with twitter
19. Keep everything current