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Building a Successful eBranch Sarah Houghton-Jan Information and Web Services Manager, San Mateo County Library Librarian in Black:

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Presentation on theme: "Building a Successful eBranch Sarah Houghton-Jan Information and Web Services Manager, San Mateo County Library Librarian in Black:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Building a Successful eBranch Sarah Houghton-Jan Information and Web Services Manager, San Mateo County Library Librarian in Black:

2 What we’ll talk about Why it’s important Staffing Organization Components Beyond the eBranch Gauging success

3 Importance of the eBranch Your users expect… you to be online when and where they are. to be able to do what they can do in your libraries on your website too. your website to match the quality and features of other websites (Amazon, eBay, Google, Netflix, etc.) Your eBranch is the most important public face of your library.

4 Benefits of the eBranch Your eBranch can be open 24/7—your brick & mortar libraries can’t. The eBranch will be your cheapest branch to run!  Minimal staffing in comparison  Rent vs. web hosting  Materials are cheaper (+ no processing)  Hundreds of free add-ons to take advantage of

5 I have a dream… …of a self-sufficient eBranch where users can do anything online that they could do in a library. accessing all content: video, audio, text connect live with a local librarian any time take a class, place an ILL, hear a story hour, participate in a book club, talk to other users, get book recommendations, … … on and on and on

6 What makes a good eBranch? Focus on content Customizable by the user Interactive and feedback-seeking Free of library hubris and lingo Professional and feature-full Focused on what the user wants—not what the librarian wants, not what the Board wants

7 Staffing You must dedicate appropriate staff to your eBranch for it to be successful. This does not mean  a 10 hour/week webmaster  someone who is not getting paid for their unique skills  someone who has three other areas of responsibility as well This does mean  a branch manager with the necessary technical, management, and librarian skills as well as appropriate authority and responsibility for running the eBranch.

8 The library website is no longer an “extra,” another PR outlet, or an add-on to your other “real” library services. It is its own branch. Treat it as such, or perish.

9 Organization: you’re not in a library Organize your website based on what people are likely looking for when visiting your website… CONTENT …not based on the format of the materials you have or the layout of the physical library.

10 Organization: what do they want? They’re looking for things like:  Materials to check out from the library  Online information about a particular topic  Something to read for fun online  Local information  Ways to connect with other people  Ways to connect with you

11 Organization: emphasize “the online” What people want from your website is very different from what they want when coming in. Give them what they want—PLEASE? Walk-inseBranchers Physical materials eMaterials Personal service Convenient service In-library events Online classes and programming Your helpNo need for help

12 Components of the eBranch Databases (but don’t call them that for pete’s sake) eBooks A good catalog (bwah ha ha ha ha ha) Social software  IM, blogs, RSS, podcasting/vidcasting, wikis, social networks, social libraries Mash-ups Multiple ways to contact you

13 Components: Databases Focus on what your databases contain— not the fact that they’re databases (online magazines and newspapers, Consumer Reports, online test help, homework help, FREE, FREE, FREE) Consider subject guides instead (w/ DBs, eBooks, canned catalog searches, websites, classes, specialized ask-a-librarian, news headlines) Your subscription databases are your eBranch’s bread and butter!

14 Components: eBooks Buy multiple eBook collections Focus on things that are downloadable Text and audio Get them into your catalog eBooks are cheaper than print books (plus no processing, shelving, check-outs) and cheaper on a cost per circulation basis

15 Components: A Good Catalog Oxymoron? Biggest point of online contact with users Put staff time, money, and thought into improving what you have. Can’t change ILS? Consider an overlay product like AquaBrowser.

16 Components: Social Software Instant messaging Internet forums Blogs / RSS / podcasting Wikis Social network services Social guides Social bookmarking Social citations Social libraries Virtual worlds and multiplayer online games

17 Why should libraries care about SS? There is a great potential for new and enhanced services There are free marketing opportunities just waiting for us Our patrons are there—where are we?

18 Components: instant messaging Instantaneous, simultaneous text chat Add-ons like video, audio, file sharing Use aggregator software (Trillian, Gaim, Meebo) to aggregate multiple accounts You’re right there where your users are—on their buddy lists Consider circ & reference IM accounts Free, free, and more free

19 Web-based IM with MeeboMeebo Completely web-based—no installations Sign in with multiple accounts at once Even if IM is blocked, this still works MeeboMe Widget—anonymous chat right on the website, no software

20 Example of Library IM webpage

21 Components: Blogs Websites frequently updated with new content Don’t call it a blog and allow comments! Examples:  St. Joseph County Public Library Game Blog:  Framingham Public Library Teen Blogomatic:  Marin County Free Library - What’s New:  Waterboro Public Library H20boro:

22 Sample blog: H20boro

23 Components: RSS (Really Simple Syndication) RSS is more than just blogs  New books and other items  News at the library  New content in subscription databases Examples:  EBSCO feeds for new articles (favorite searches)  Hennepin County Library feeds for all types of things  Edmonton Public Library feed for new teen books  Seattle Public Library feeds for favorite authors and subjects  FirstGov feeds for government information

24 Sample RSS feeds: Hennepin CL

25 Components: Podcasting & Vidcasting Creating audio and video content and pushing it to users through an RSS feed Book reviews, programming, library tours, classes, library news, story hours Examples:  Thomas Ford Memorial Library audio teen book reviews:  Manchester Public Library video book reviews:  Cheshire Public Library - audio of local teen magazine:  University of Sheffield Library audio library tours:

26 Sample podcast: Thomas Ford ML

27 Components: Wikis Collaborative resource creation Multiple authors, ongoing creation Subject guides, book reviews, etc. Examples:  Wikipedia:  Wiktionary:  St.Joseph County Library’s Subject Guides: Page Page  University of Minnesota Libraries Staff Website:

28 Sample wiki: St.Joseph CL’s Subject Guides

29 Components: Social networks Places to meet people and communicate Examples:  Friendster, Dogster, MySpace, Facebook You’re there where they are Libraries with MySpace accounts  Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (Teens)  Denver Public Library  Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library  dozens of others

30 Library MySpace Page: Denver PL

31 Social bookmarking Putting your favorite websites in a web directory to share with others Examples:  del.icio.us:  furl:  La Grange Public Library’s del.icio.us ref links  Thomas Ford Memorial Library’s del.icio.us ref links  San Mateo City Library’s del.icio.us ref links

32 Library del.icio.us: La Grange Park

33 Components: Social libraries Keep track of collections Uses tagging, user-created metadata: Folksonomies Examples  Flickr.com for photographs  discogs.com for music  LibraryThing.com for books  Stuffopolis.com for everything else

34 Social library: Reading PL on Flickr

35 Components: Mash-Ups People are doing things with your library content: be aware and advertise/educate users. Library ELF: Library account tracking and alerts via & RSS LibX Toolbar: Direct access in web browser to catalog and more Steal This Library: RSS feeds for new items Library LookUp: click on it when on a webpage with an ISBN to look up item in your catalog

36 Components: Multiple ways to contact you Phone  web forms are easiest and most spam-proof  Have forms for various purposes (catalog help, eBook help, website help, suggest a purchase, general feedback, my account help) Web-based chat (AskNow) Instant Messaging Cell phone text messaging (SMS) Don’t differentiate between “Contact Us” and “Ask a Librarian”

37 Beyond the eBranch: Online Outreach Ego RSS feed: set up RSS feeds for variations of your library’s name Wikipedia: add your library to community entries Wireless network directories: add your library Reviews of libraries on Yelp etc.: check, monitor, and participate appropriately Watch others: monitor local blogs and forums and offer help and information when appropriate Online Games: consider being present in SecondLife and other game environments

38 Gauging Success Gather database and eBook statistics Count eReference questions separately Gather detailed website statistics Monitor RSS/podcast subscribers Survey your online users Build the content, make it findable, and they will come. Watch your usage soar!

39 Questions? Contact Sarah any time… IM: LibrarianInBlack (AOL, Yahoo!, MSN)


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