Easy Web Fixes

Lichen RancourtMonday, 11:00 – 12:30

Description
Does your web site need an extreme makeover? Would you like to add Web 2.0 functionality? Is your budget for web development somewhere between miniscule and negligible? Get practical advice from Lichen Rancourt, who was responsible for bringing the Manchester (NH) City Library web site to a whole new level. Her step-by-step review offers guidance that shows you how to make changes that will bring positive feedback from your community.
Presentation slides: http://nelib.org/conference/2008/program/2-11-2-webfixes.pdf


The original website used static html, and had grown organically (as of 7/07). It wasn’t dynamic, but does give a good introduction to the website.

Updating was difficult, because everything had to be coded by hand. The overall desires of website improvements were to:

  • bring the website more inline with the vibrant and robustness of the actual library and services
  • make it easier to update (focus more on content, and not coding).
  • make it useful and interesting on a daily basis, like the actual library
  • provide a sense of community, like the actual library
  • make the website’s content portable, so it works on mobile devices as well as computers

Easy to maintain

Need to focus on content, so the staff can show patrons, through the website, how active and vital the library is.

  • Created a flickr.com account for the library, and uploaded photos they already had (and joined flickr groups for Manchester and New Hampshire
  • Use flickr badge to automatically display photos on the website
  • By using flickr, all the content is managed through their interface, which is much easier to handle than coding
  • Flickr generates the code for you, and you paste it into your website where ever you want it
  • Having patrons sign release forms is a good courtesy, but only legally required for kids

Expose library resources

  • Our collection is our heart and soul, so we need to et it out there
  • Let patrons search catalog, determine availability, view accounts, and renew materials
  • All ILSs should allow for this, so talk to vendors or other libraries using that same ILS to find out how
  • Once you get the code, just paste it into your website where you want it

Interact with patrons

  • Promote your librarians – this is what amazon and google do not have
  • Started a blog with wordpress to give librarians a voice, and personalize the website – like the library is personal
  • Make sure whatever blog you use provides rss feeds and allows comments
  • How to get the blog info into the website? Used feedburner to generate code to paste into the website where they wanted it to display. Doing this keeps the blog information within the context of the website, instead of making patrons go somewhere else, and you also get lots of options and stats

Interactivity

  • Since wordpress allows patrons to comment on posts, using feedburner to import post to website also allows patrons comment to display on website. If your posts are interesting and useful, people will participate
  • Flickr also supports comments
  • Once you start doing this, make sure you keep it new and updated, because if a photo sits too long, people get tired of it – always think sustainability
  • Using Google Calendars to display library events – this provides a feed to embed in the website, and also lets patrons to sign up for feeds to be delivered as rss or have it sent right to their own Outlook calendar using the iCal format

Life Integration

  • Letting patrons use this information the way they want to use it
  • This is important because even if you don’t know what rss is or use it at all, chances are you have patrons that do
  • Feedburner lets patrons subscribe to the various feeds, and they can check them in an rss reader or have updates emailed right to them

So what’s next?

  • Everything shown here can be done in a day
  • More complex additions could be migrating to a new platform (which is easier to do once the content is separated from the code), YouTube, Twitter, etc.
  • But no matter what you consider, the website will only be as good and the content that YOU generate

Q&A

What software do you use to maintain your website?
It is Novus, and is mandated by the City of New Hampshire

Do you moderate comments?
Yes, on the blog, but we’ve never gotten an inappropriate comment. WordPress also notifies us when comments are held for moderation, so there is very little delay between patron submission and librarian approval. Can also use filters to approve automatically based on language or users

Do you get a lot of spam comments?
Yes. WordPress has a spam filter which works well, but is not 100% flawless

How much time do you spend on a daily basis doing this?
Most of my time is spent cajoling the staff to write for the blog. But when I do it, I try to think of it as if I am speaking to someone a cross the desk – make it short (two paragraphs) and useful. For flickr pictures, it’s maybe 5-10 minutes a day.

Is google calendar your only calendar?
No, google calendar is just for promoting events on the website. We also use Library Insight for meeting room management and reservations

Does wordpress do calendars?
It is possible, but that is a bit beyond an “easy web fix”

Are these feeds all or nothing feeds?
No, most let you filter based on tags, dates, or other criteria, so you can have a flickr badge just for childrens events, or just for a particular branch

How do you know how many people use this?
Feedburner gives us stats, but we also use Google Analytics for website stats

Scriblio: Web 2.SO? – Why it matters to Libraries

Lichen RancourtTuesday, 8:30-10:00

Description
Scriblio is a program to help libraries create a stronger online presence developed by Casey Bisson of Plymouth State University and Lichen Rancourt of the Manchester (NH) Public Library. Lichen demonstrates why this just may be a new model for future OPACs. It provides keyword searching, faceted searching and browsing, persistent URLs for easy linking and full integration of website and catalog content and… it’s open source and can be used for free.

Slides available at http://remainingrelevant.net/remaining/236


What is a library?
A collection that is cared for and made available to the public

  • A collection: is not just books, but information resources – audio books, DVDs, internet resources
  • Cared for: librarians manage these materials and assist in their location and use
  • The public: the people we serve; our town, our consortium, anyone who uses our website or comes into the building (not limited to geography)

Enter Web 2.0
Libraries are no longer just destinations, but are a platform for information exchange (library to patron and patron to patron). This is also what Web 2.0 does – lets people share information with each other easily.

Geography is becoming less and less important, because some interaction happens online.

Three characteristics of Web 2.0

  • Usability: Traditional library tools are built to be used by experts. Web 2.0 tools are built to be used easily by anyone (2.0 = do it yourself)
  • Remixability: How easy is it to use content from our source and use it in another (embedding YouTube videos or flickr pictures into a blog, etc)
  • Findability: How are these tools found online? Patrons can’t find library books through google because traditional ILSs are “closed systems.” Web 2.0 tools are open to external searches and links

If libraries are about serving communities and Web 2.0 is about building communities, then Web 2.0 needs library service. Because, what do libraries have that Web 2.0 tools don’t have? Librarians to help.

Enter Catalog 2.0
This allows ILSs to serve patrons however they are searching online (the library website is just one avenue to the collection).

Traditional ILSs don’t like to share their data – even with librarians. New options are:

Scriblio
Scriblio meets all of the above criteria – easy to use by non-experts, but provides expert information in an open and shared way.

It’s a small plug-in for a wordpress blog

Tamworth Library website: http://www.tamworthlibrary.org

  • Sidebars has calendars with upcoming events and library hours (based on Google calendars (one location for data is represented in multiple locations, instead of having to update multiple locations)
  • Sidebar also has a flickr badge, showing the latest uploaded photos (of programs, resources, etc)
  • Blog posts serve as announcements, in the center of the homepage
  • Pages are for more static content, which exist within the website’s navigation
  • Catalog data is also treated as “live” data, so they show up as new books on the homepage (like a blog post) – having data in this format makes is very easy for patrons to browse new books. Catalog records use all existing library controlled data, as well as incorporates user tagging data (patron-generated data is not stored in the ILS – it is stored in Scriblio)
  • All three data types are searchable from one search box
  • Drawbacks: data is not live (uploaded manually in batches), so circ status is not completely accurate, and holds cannot be place. YET – this is open source and always in development
  • Some data provided by amazon – images, reviews, etc. – in return for a link back
  • RSS feeds are available through Scriblio automatically – for anything you want, based on the way you tag/categorize records
  • Patrons are adding comments and book reviews
    • this data is also included in the search
    • this is how Tamworth is currently handling reserves – they are sent as emails to staff (and this comment is not published)
    • All comments are moderated (patrons can choose “private” so that librarians see it but other patrons don’t)
    • Patrons also suggest things to do/purchase
    • Makes homebound patrons feel welcome

Jay RancourtJay Rancourt, Director, Cook Memorial Library

  • Implementing this makes the Board of Trustees nervous – be ready for this, but push forward. The Board likes it, but are worried about privacy
  • Posting policies for privacy issues: library incorporates web posting into their policy: get permission in writing from program presenters, and get verbal permission from parents (and try to avoid taking recognizable pictures of kids faces)
  • Managing information is less work than the old site – all web-based, so it can even be done from home (think snow days)
  • Knowing how people get to the website is a favorite thing – people coming from search engines is now equal to people who go there directly (it means the library data is findable to the world)
  • Kids and Teens love this, and get interested in posting
  • Use this to promote local history resources (much better than a vertical file). Best of all, patrons who know this local history can contribute
  • This is a great way to open a new channel to patrons – we already do in-person, phone, fax, email, etc… now we do IM and respond to comments

Back-end (WordPress)

  • Try setting up a free blog at wordpress.com to see how it works and how easy it is
  • New posts are easy forms to fill in
  • Changing the look of the website is just choosing a theme
  • Different permission levels for different users (staff can each have their own login and level of rights
  • Plug-ins are easy to add and turn on/off
  • Scriblio is a plu-in, with it’s own admin screen. Easy form to upload new catalog records
  • See working.remainingrelevant.net for a working example of a “fresh” Scriblio install

Questions:
Is this tied in with LibraryThing?
Tagging is separate from LibraryThing tagging

Is it really just two people doing this?
Yes (Casey Bission does code, Lichen interacts with libraries, both develop ideas), with Jessamyn West helping with documentation.

Do you work with other Open Source projects?
Not directly, but the OS community is very open and friendly

How much time do you spend doing this?
Maybe 2-3 hours a week; the interfaces are so good that it’s easy and fun to use – especially since results are immediate

Is this moving the idea of a community center online? ie, are you helping community patrons start and use flickr accounts, etc., so they can contribute, too?
We hadn’t thought of it, but that’s a great idea. It’s also a great idea for programs. However, we do post information from patrons – one Trustee posted a video to YouTube of the 4th of July parade, and the library embedded that in a blog post.

When will this be ready for us?
Soon – maybe summer 2008. Contact Lichen for more information.