Your library has a website. Very good. But what do you know about your library’s web presence? I’ve been thinking about this after reading Karen Coombes’ post The future of web services isn’t the Library website .
If your library is like most libraries, you’ve put information on your website with a menu structure with a logical path for people to follow. You do know that your users probably aren’t using those paths, don’t you? You do know that there are other places that they could be finding you online, don’t you?
Some of your web pages are louder than others and get more hits – do you know which ones? Have you made these high demand pages the easiest ones to get to from your home page?
Is your home page the one that gets the most hits – or have your users decided that another one of your pages is actually the most important page? Are you ensuring that “must know” information is available on your pseudo-home page?
USING SEARCH ENGINES
Do you have a “vanity search” from google set up so you know what people are saying about your library online? How about Technorati ? Have you made sure that all information about your library is “scrape-able” so that it can be indexed by search engines?
VISIBILITY ON THE INTERNET
Have you thought about what “being on the internet” means? Yes, your website is “on the internet”, but that’s a bit like saying – “we put an ad on TV”. Did you put it on Community TV at 2am, or on Channel 10 in the middle of the new “Kath ‘n’ Kim” on a Sunday night?
Is your website visible on the bit of the ‘net where your users hang out?
WHERE ARE YOUR USERS ?
Come to think of it – where are your users hanging out? Have you checked traffic stats like those from Alexa or read reports that discuss who is looking at what – like those from JISC (Student expectations study ) or Educause (ECAR study of undergraduate students and infromation technology 2007) or OCLC (Sharing privacy and trust in our networked world ) ?
ARE YOU EVERYWHERE YOU COULD BE?
Have you thought about other places you could be on the web beside your website?
Facebook is the 7th most popular website in the world (Alexa traffic rank 19Nov 2007). Two weeks ago, they allowed organisations to create their own profile via Facebook Pages. Does your library have a Facebook Page?
Can your users get to you live using their preferred web tools? Can they contact a librarian via chat from their own chat client? Do you have a Meebo type widget embedded in your pages or available for them to embed where they want?
Do you offer your website content to your users via RSS? Do you have a feed on your library news blog or on your new books list?
Do you make take-away tools that allow your users to embed your web content on their personal bits of the ‘net?
A custom built LibX toolbar will let you embed your library into your users’ browser. It will add searchboxes to your catalogue, hotlink to your catalogue any ISBNs or book titles displayed in the browser and provide Journal authentication just by right clicking on a site. It is free and you can create a do-it-yourself version at the LibX site.
Facebook allows you to create an application that will put a library search box and a link to your “Ask a Librarian” service on user profiles.
OpenSocial allows you to create a google gadget that can be embedded in social networks that are OpenSocial partners – like MySpace, Ning and Plaxo.
MAKING TOOLS AVAILABLE
Take-away tools are for people who want to hang out in their own bit of the web rather than the library website – so publicising these via the website probably isn’t useful. How will you publicise these? (I actually have no idea and would love to hear suggestions ).
Your pages can be accessed sensibly via a mobile device, can’t they? Or do you only have a web presence when users access you via a PC?
Are you intimately involved with web presence of your parent company? Can internal customers find you easily from your parent institution’s web presence?
Do you provide chances for your users to help create your web presence? Can other users hear their stories about your library web presence ?
If your browser didn’t show the image at the top, it was brands that win will be those whose consumers tell the best stories , from LynetteR’s flickr stream found via Helen Blowers and Michael Casey’s slideshow A blue sky conversation .