“It’s a monumental task in progress,” said Gardiner Library Manager Nicole Lane when I visited for a sneak preview of the library’s impressive new website. The site is expected to be up and running by the time this Gazette goes to press.
When asked why they chose to undertake such a massive revamp, Nicole said the software for the old site was not letting them do what they wanted. “There are a lot of library users who rarely actually walk in the door here, but they do access the website to utilize eBooks and other resources.”
In addition to eBooks, the new site offers us easy access to various databases, such as for academic journals and back issues of magazines and newspapers, all of which can be read for free with your library card. There will be resources for parents, weekly updates like The New York Times Bestseller list, and book trailers. We’ll be able to see an agenda of upcoming events, view a printable community room calendar, fill out an on-line application to use the community room, and read library policies about use of the room and display space.
Two exciting new features are a home page carousel of new acquisitions—a digital version of the display table near the library desk that lets us start planning that next good read—and an easy to use mobile app. Though a number of these features were also available on the old site, they were difficult to find and not that easy to use.
Nicole explains that the old software was so complicated that only one staff member was skilled enough to update the site. Obviously this cut down dramatically on immediacy and, ultimately, on usage; people don’t come back to visit a site very often when experience has proven that it will probably have exactly the same information it had last time they visited.
The new software, developed by Piper Mountain Websites, a web-based company specialized in library sites, is so easy that all staff members have been trained in its use. Nicole says, “The children’s librarian can now log on at will and post some new information about the program, I can log on from home and post information about a snow day or late opening and, in general, each staff member can freely use the site to communicate with his or her particular audience.”
The library welcomes feedback and, given how easy the new site is to tweak, plans to fine tune it until it is every bit the specialized tool they hoped it to be.