Wednesday, April 18, 2007 - A Case Study

"No amount of sophistication is going to allay the fact that all your knowledge is about the past and all your decisions are about the future." - Ian Wilson

How a traditional library website became an interactive community portal
Case study of Cuyahoga County Public Library web revamp

What is Cuyahoga County Public Library? A suburban library system serving about 100,000 people in 28 towns outside Cleveland Ohio, with 28 branches and about 1,000 employees.

What the web site was: a static, information rich site with about 2500 pages, not easily navigable - "just grew"

The redesign process:

The library decided it needed to make media available in many formats and give greater presence to 27 branches on the website.

Library staff made a "laundry list" of desirable features and functions

  • a portal, with customizable user experience, yahoo style
  • more community partners, reaching new user groups
  • web content and catalog
  • wikis, blogs reviews, comments, discussions, rss, email , enhanced search, toolbar, widgets, audio podcasts, video podcasts, e-commerce, news, events
  • branch info

An rfp was issued, seeking a fresh view of how to analyze and deliver what customers wanted. A contract was awarded to Optien, a Cleveland marketing firm that traditionally worked with corporate customers:


  • discovery - focus groups for different demographic groups in the community, and also for staff constituent groups; research into "gold standard" web sites, best practices analysis, etc. followed by "wire frame" design of web pages.
  • outcomes - recommended "mini portals" for subject areas, demographic groups and branches; CMS (150 non-tech users, blogs, RSS, Mobile CSS, ADA 508 Compliance, Multi-Language capability, scaleability, interactive events calendars, search capability, etc.

Content management system - build or buy? The library decided finally to contract with Ektron for CMS software that integrates with the catalog, text and email messaging, online store, federated search using a customized version of WebFeat, etc.

Some nice features - branch pages, subject area pages, event sign-up, online store for logo-branded gifts, email communications segmented by age, interest, or location of audience, text message reminder service, (now sending 90,000 messages per month) online donations. There is also focus on things that people can "join" and contribute to - blogs, wikis, forums, book clubs, etc.

Additional features from ektron - dublin core, microformats, federated search, geomapping, data portability, since the platform is entirely xml and very useable, memberships capability, directionality of content, creation of online community, Q&A, digital content managment

The site is managed by one full time and two half time people, with additional help from programmers as needed - 200 staff members are trained to contribute content, and about 50 regularly do so.

Cost - about $150,ooo over four years of development, about $6,000 last year in maintenance.

Promotion - supported by well budgeted advertising campaign coordinated by Optiem, and including radio and television spots was key to the successful launch. The site was also Ektron's "site of the year." Presenters feel that marketing was absolutely key to the site's success.

Interesting Bits and pieces

  • The library is looking to future enhancement that would allow a "my library" personalized site, but the Innovative Interfaces OPAC does not yet have that functionality
  • Content is totally separate from form, with totally locked-down style sheets and page templates maintaining the site's look. This allows content providers with all levels of experience to successfully update.
  • Text messaging has been very successful with people in their 30s - new features have been most popular with people in their 30s and seniors - teens are still an illusive audience. The text messaging function is provided by a 3rd party enhancement to the iii OPAC
  • Much of the promotion is through the branches
  • The new site has an "alias" feature - people can create an easily remembered user name and password instead of using library bar code to access site features
  • There are now about 800 web pages total

.mobi - The Wave of the Future

Trends in Mobile Tools and Applications for Libraries
Megan Fox, Simmons College,

"Email is for old people" - Megan Fox's message is that mobile electronic devices like cell phones, PDAs, and even Playstations, are rapidly replacing computers as a preferred reference and research tool - library customers want information on the spot, where they are, not in the library building. And they probably want to request and receive the information by text message. Instant gratification is the word of the day.

Size of Mobile Market

75% of adults and 90% of college students have cell phones; 1 in 8 households no longer have landlines. 95% of mobile phones support text messaging, and in 2007 an estimated 350 billion text messages are sent permonth, a 95% increase in one year. And it's not just teens - 20% of cell phone users over 65 also text message.

Latest Devices include everything from the Apple iphone to the Playstation and UMPC, or "ultramobile personal computer" - most are capable of receiving broadband, texting, calendaring, etc. Most can record and play video, and have outstanding audio quality. In Asia, 90% of music downloads are to smartphones.

The Mobile Web/The TranscodedWeb

Libraries are beginning to develop content that can be delivered to mobile devices - the new internet domain ".mobi" is for sites compatible with mobile devices, including the sites below: - see "video" for downloadable ILL instructions

Vendors are also developing research content for mobile devices:

Bloggers and rss addicts are also in on it:

As are search services

What does it mean for libraries?

We need to consider making our OPAC and databases accessible to mobile devices, introducing text-message and IM reference, text and IM notices of holds, overdue books, events, etc. Possibly even producing mobile guides to the collection, directions to the library, mobile readers advisory, etc.

We also need to be careful how we ban cell phone use - banning audible conversations, but welcoming other research uses of PDAs and cell phones.

Looking to the future:

  • publishers are marketing books by sending excerpts by free subscription to phones and IM
  • mobicontent - 100s of libraries are circulating electronic books for mobile devices
  • Teleflip - send an email message to any telephone number and have it translated to text
  • Mobile devices in classrooms for realtime interactions and feedback between students and instructors - ie live polling
  • Mobile devices for library instruction?
  • itunes U - audio recordings of courses
  • advertising - nike, espn, hilton, pepsi, are working on placing text ads for cell phones
  • visa and mastercard are developing on-phone credit cards (loose your credit card - use your phone instead) could library cards also be embedded in phones?
  • search formats adapted to the small screen through intuitive "drill down" interfaces
  • mobile visual interactions - begin a query from an image - ie take a picture of a book and get info about circ status, reviews, ext.
  • GPS point and click devices to provide information about buildings, etc. your phone is pointed at
  • point and click metadata recognition and bar code scanning
  • tools for library staff, including wireless workstations, wireless bar code readers, real time shelf lists

Paper ????

The World Digital Library Initiative

John Van Oudenaren, Senior Advisor, World Digital Library,,

The 2005 Press Release:

2005 - Librarian of Congress proposes initiative to UNESCO, recieves $3 million from Google for planning
2006 - Agreements with partner institutions in Brazil, Russia, and Egypt, draft proposal to UNESCO
October 2007 - World Digital Library Initiative unveiled at UNESCO General Conference
September 2008 - projected full-scale launch of project

Vision - "To create a digital library of significant original materials representing all of the major cultures from across the globe and make it accessible to students, ecucators, and the general public."

Description: Not a book digitization project! Rather, a repository of cultural materials of unique value, in order to promote intercultural understanding and awareness, provide a resource for educators that matches the needs of a globalized, wireless world, and acquire rare and unique content. With some focus on utility to k-12 educators in particular, and on acquiring original content of value to scholars and the general public.

American Memory Project - the original project, provided experience for others
Global Gateway Project - six bilateral international projects started in late 1990s -

Current Partners -
UNESCO - 6 National Libraries and othre cultural institutions, mainly the six bilateral partners from the Global Gateway
Technology Partners - Google, Yahoo, Apple, Stanford University

Pillars - content acquisition, construction of sustainable international network for production and distribution of content

Content Acquisition:

  • Digitize content in places where little or no scanning is being done, bringing to light "hidden treasures."
  • Maintain and build on existing scanning operations in Russia, Egypt, and elsewhere.
  • Make existing scanned content accessible through the World Digital Library.
Multilingual Translation
  • Creation of Network Nodes for digitization, cataloging, translation, development of editorial and educational content, and distribution. With central and mirror sites around the world.
  • Content will be in the language of translation, with ultimately translations in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Design: Present cultural content in a way that appeals to a new gneration of internet users in the US and internationaly - fast, seamless, user experience, searchable and browsable.


  • Multiformat, with manuscripts, maps, photos and pictures, rare books, sound and video, 3-D presentation of architectural monuments
  • Special features with experts scholars and curators
  • Educational content for teachers and students
  • Social networking features, including blogs, chat rooms, tagging features
  • Adaptations for developing countries, like low-bandwidth and mobile device solutions

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

InfoTubeys 2007 - Congratulations, Nancy Dowd!

Award-winning library promotional videos:

New Jersey State Library - Trenton -
What Are Your Three Reasons

Arlington Heights Memorial Library - one of 57 videos from this library on youtube: What's Up

McCracken County Library - Dr. Duck
McCracken County Library - Super Librarian

Seneca Library - Holiday Song

Williams College Library - The L-Team

My Own Cafe - Sitting in for Angela

Interactive Teen web portal - My Own Cafe
login name: guest
password: daffodil

How a western Massachusetts regional library system developed and marketed a website for teens for all the local libraries in the consortium. School libraries were included, but have not been active, possibly because of the greater security on their computers

Goals: Increase teen participation in libraries by offering an interactive one-stop interface for library electronic resources as well as interactive features popular with teens.

How My Own Cafe was developed
  • The library hired a web development consultant, Pixel Bridge to assist in setting up the site.
  • Pixel Bridge recommended message boards as a medium for teen interaction, downloadable music (local bands submitted their own music for download), community information, college and job information,
  • The project started with LSTA $50,000 grant.
  • A Teen Advisory Council was created and scheduled face-to-face meetings, as well as chat, blogs, etc. The face-to-face meetings proved to be vitally important.
  • The Teen Advisory Council developed guidelines, including choosing a domain name and logo, seting age limits, defining rules for message boards and moderating message boards, etc.
Questions that came up during development:
  • Access? Asking for a library card might present a barrier to teens using the website, but in the end, a library card was required to register on the site. Once registered, a teen was not asked to present the card again, or to register separately for databases, catalog, message boards, music downloads, etc..
  • Selecting music? "Clean Music" guidelines were developed by Teen Council members.
  • Would message boards be moderated? Teen Council members volunteered to work as moderators, paying attention to language and content and dealing with inappropriate materials.
  • Who will have administrative access to site? Did not get the answer here.
  • Site name? Teen input was sought within the parameters of available and legal choices. - "my own cafe" was a compromise source.
  • Logo?- there was a clear division between what librarians liked and what teens liked - the teen choice was selected
  • Appearance? - The developers wanted easy one-click access to all library resources, but did not want it to look like a library page. Final choice was made by teens - the home page is heavy on content, and requires scrolling, which bothers librarians but not teens
  • Technical stuff - Windows 2003 server, DotNetNuke - open source content management system using asp.
  • Age Range? over 12, to comply with COPPA - Children's Online Protection Act.
  • Development and use policies? A written website policy was created and includes an agreement with terms including basic code of conduct developed by teen moderators Code of Conduct. Teens also collaborated with librarians to create a letter to parents explainng the website to parents.

Site kickoff at mall, promoted by teens, teen jazz band performed, was very successful
kids got the opportunity to win an ipod

Statistics - 326 teens registered as of April 16 - 76 users, teen and library staff, logged in 702 times during March 200u, nearly 11,700 posts since Oct. 2005 - Message boards are most popular

Challenges -
  • How to get kids to use electronic databases? Create a survey with questions that could be answered in electronic databases, and award prizes for best answers
  • Message Board and website content - created by teens, who also discuss acceptable content and set standards for posting; but librarians do also edit content
  • Marketing budget - it's vital to have a good budget, but depend on teens for marketing ideas
  • There have not been too many problems on the website with bullying, vulgarity, other issues.
Future plans: librarians are about to implement a "Creativity Center" with an opportunity for musicians to upload music , artists to post artwork, writers to post work, etc. Maybe even a chance for kids to do podcasts. Librarians hope the Creativity Center may increase level of participation - teens without library cards will be able to contribute to the Creativity Center.

Introducing the Book

Gutenberg's Tech Support

Comments in the Catalog