Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Can you believe it's that time of year? When the fudge needs to get thrown away, when my better intentions need to be dusted off and revisited - where did 2008 go? While I am busily putting together my personal New Year's Resolutions, I thought I'd take a moment and blog about the website's resolutions, as well. Take a look (they're in no particular order, by the way except the first one!) and let me know what you think of them!

Resolution #1: to put up the new website in 2009

Resolution #2: to create a site which is interactive and allows for your commenting to any piece of material or item we own

Resolution #3: to showcase our collection electronically

Resolution #4: to provide an easy means for you to access our electronic resources

Happy New Year 2009 - Year of the Ox!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's a visual world

think of the changes that have occurred since our parents' days. we've gone from black and white tv to full press high def color. it's come down to making reservations for the high def tv in our household for special tv shows or football games because the non high def tv just doesn't cut it! music was provided via a radio ~ look how far we've come! music is now a music video or it's something on youtube but the presentation of it is much more visual. even our shopping can be conducted visually. choose to upload a photo of yourself and you can virtually try on clothes or new hairdo's.

websites are drumming to the same beat as you have well seen in this blog from the pages presented to you. we're trying to take the physical collection that sits on the shelves and put them online for you to interact with as much as possible. this blog has already ruminated on the online experience - what kind of online shopper are you - the browser who likes to look around or the shopper with the exact list?

what examples have you run across that confirms this notion of visual presentation? in the meantime, may your dreams be merry (visually, of course!) and don't forget to leave out the milk and cookies wed nite!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Patience and presents

Just how much patience should we have? Is there a national patience quota that I can gauge my patience level against some national norm to see if I'm an outlier? When my fingers start drumming the steering wheel, when they edge close to the horn ~ then I know that my patience quota is running dangerously low. When the kid says "you've got to help me find this book so i can turn in my report tomorrow" then the fingers are a'twitch with impatience...... When I go to get said book and find that i'm number 5 or number 55 on the hold list, what does that do to my patience or lack thereof?

We are part of waiting lines all the time. Does it matter to you that you wait a week or a month for something you've put on hold? Is it better to just have your name on the list rather than not at all? How often are you managing your holds and deleting titles because you've found it elsewhere, have purchased it or simply don't care any longer? Especially during this month, when the anticipation of presents is all around, how much patience can we all expect to have?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Do You Hover?

Do you remember the parenting articles that came out awhile back about "helicopter parents?" These are the parents who hover and stay extremely close to their children, to monitor and try to prevent harm and even sheltering them from failure.

Well, if you can follow the leap from helicopter parents to hovering as a verb ~ then the rest of this blog will make sense, I promise! We've been checking out borders.com and barnesandnoble.com websites to see how they present their collection. Granted, you've heard this before if you're a regular blog reader. One of the nice things they do is offer a hover box. Scroll over a cover and you are presented with additional information. We thought this was a nifty feature and are working on building it on our site........ So here's the million dollar question of the day, do you like it? Does it offer anything value-added to your experience? Rather not be bothered by it? Share your experiences here!

Monday, December 1, 2008


Motivation can either be a positive word (I'm motivated to finish my holiday shopping by December 5th) or a negative word (I'm not going to eat any fudge this month so I don't have to lose 10 pounds next year.) My latest idea involves motivation when you visit a website. Much like when I visit a mall, I have specific stores I want to visit for specific gifts or items. After that or in between that are many more stores which have appealing displays. I stop to look at the window display and then am sometimes drawn inside (okay always drawn inside!) for further browsing and possibly purchasing.

Does this same behavior apply online? Do you go to specific shopping sites to find a specific something? Get sidetracked by seeing something else? I confess to not being an avid online shopper but my latest example is an Amazon purchase. When I located my item, I did look to see what others had purchased.

In the same vein as shopping, when you visit the library website, are you using the search box exclusively to find your materials? Are you sidetracked by the book covers on the home page? Are you putting any of these things on hold? Is reading/listenening/watching motivation different than shopping motivation?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ready for another peek?

Happy Monday and Thanksgiving week!

Seems to be the pattern to post sneak peeks of web pages. Here's another page to show you - this one is the Programs & Events page. Now, don't take the actual content as "things we're doing" but more as placeholders for possibility.

You can see that we are following the same style you've seen in previously posted screen shots. The top grid will feature programs in a graphic way while the 2nd box will provide more copy or text to a program we want to feature. The smaller 1/3 sized box will be navigation while the 3rd box will also feature more programs searchable via one click to find standard programs we always provide such as storytimes, computer classes or book clubs.

As always, your input is much appreciated. In the meantime, enjoy your week of Thanks!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Next Stop in the Journey

Hopefully you're feeling the rush that we are when we see our website pages put to paper! It's the same feeling I had as a kid when I could ride in the back of a flatbed pickup truck ....

The image you see is what we call an individual item page. When you click on the cover of any book, movie or music, you will be taken to a page that looks like this. We will provide a description, reviews, some details and recommendations for other reading. This is the page where you will be able to post your comments on the item and read input from other readers or viewers or listeners.

What do you think?

Monday, November 10, 2008

We're Rolling!

It feels like a train leaving the station. All of the bags need to be loaded, the passengers boarded and the momentum builds as the train leaves the station and begins to pick up speed as it hurls towards it destination.

This is how the website work has felt. We continue to spend lots of time in loading the bags ~ e.g. creating pages, deciding how they function, and what content goes where ~ but our train ~ our web pages are going from design to let's see how this looks virtually stage...... one car at a time!

We've loaded one of the interior pages - the books page - for you to get a sneak preview. This is the page you will see when you click on "Books" on the home page. What do you think ~ we haven't reached our destination yet!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

In Gratitude

Today's blog takes a turn from talking about the website redesign changes. Suffice it to say that work is progressing at a merry pace on finalizing the home page design and function and we have turned the page, so to speak, to start work on subpages.

I wanted to take this public electronic space today to tip my hat to a bunch of people ~ Alyson, John, Jill, Christine, and JoAnne at Sheridan ~ for their work and talent in creating an award winning website! Yes, the teensite has won the Colorado Association of Libraries Library Website Award! This was a great project to work on - full of energy and lots of ideas on how to make it interactive and cool-looking! From focus grouping teens to figuring out a design to actually seeing it in action at Sheridan Middle School, it has been a pleasure. When someone famous said "it takes a village" - I have to wholeheartedly agree that great work is not produced in a vacuum but as a result of a great team. Now, onto the adult website!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Finding and Findability

While this blog could be considered a play on words, please consider it a plea for just that...how do you find and what is considered findable in your vocabulary?

For instance, when I visit a website that I haven't used before I usually am skimming the page to find the content that seems relevant and on target. It's like playing the game of "hot" and "cold" where you're supposed to find an object with your eyes closed and your only clues are "hot" when you're getting close......When I don't find the content I'm looking for ("cold") then my next task is to find the search box so the search function can help me find what I'm seeking. No search box? Bad news - I'm usually leaving the site!

As we continue to develop our webpages, one of the things we will be configuring is the subpage Books. A rather important page in the scheme of things, we want to place side navigation on this page populated with reading categories. So are there categories or types of books that are must-haves for you? Want a clickable "mystery" or "romance" option? Don't care? How would you want to find the latest James Patterson, the latest Hillerman? Not only does it apply to adult literature, but we could also think about teen literature and childrens literature, too. Have any opinions? Post 'em here!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Where in the world?

It's probably the nerdiest thing in the world to admit that I loved the Where's Waldo books......I could spend hours searching for Waldo in all the different scenarios and pages in which he was drawn. Granted, this was BC (before children) when there was time and effort that could be expended in all sorts of nonproductive ways.........

Today, my "where in the world" asks the question of how do you know where you are when you visit a website and spend some time shopping/browsing? In the real world, you enter the front door and then choose the area you want to shop in. Along the way you might see a display of shoes which sidetracks you from your original search of towels but then you have the store directory or personal knowledge in which to guide you along the way.

In the virtual world, there is no such store directory which orients you to "you are here." Some websites provide a list of links so you can trace your steps backwards. Others may present in different ways through tabs or other directional devices. So the questions of the day are these:

  • *do you need to know where you are on any given web page in a web site?
  • *if so, how do you like to know?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Interested in voicing your opinion?

Our developers have us on task to finalize the home page content as well as look at some of the key subpages so that work can begin on actual design and function. Can you believe that we're already this far? Or, as the designers might ask, isn't it a chore to get these guys moving?

One of the things you will soon see on the website is a call to participate in a focus group. The first will be held the end of the month with two more scheduled the first week of November. We will take this opportunity to show the home page as it's been envisioned so far and ask for your input. If you are interested in participating, you can email focusgroups@ald.lib.co.us to sign up. I hope you will consider this as an opportunity for input. If you can't make any of the dates, then this blog is the place to voice your opinions and thoughts.

Monday, October 6, 2008

As the foliage changes, so do we

My initial headline was more like "as the leaves fall, so do we" but the context did not seem to make as much sense and seems rather morbid so let me know what you think about the "foliage" metaphor......... Fall has always been a melancholy time for this blogger, because it means the warm weather has moved south...and I haven't. I confess to loving it warm, never having to deal with winter coats and snow boots. In the context of the website design (and trying to get to my seasons metaphor here), we've affirmatively chosen red as the new website color. As you saw from a few blog posts ago, a red home page mockup was posted and it will look much like that.

Work continues with our excellent vendors who are keeping us on task with lots to think about and consider as we make changes. What will this do? Where will that go? How many clicks to get from here to there? What happens when you land on this page? More than just deciding on the website color, it's about providing the best experience possible for you. We're not going to take the existing site and give you the same clicks to the content you now see on the site. As the leaves change, we are thinking hard about getting you the best in functionality.

Are there websites you just love because they get you to where you wanna be? Are there websites you hate because you didn't get to your destination in any logical way? This blogger would love to know. Happy raking!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How Do We Say What We Want To Say?

Communication makes the world go 'round, not love as some famous song of yesteryear leads us to believe...... We have rather heated debates here in the office about terminology. For instance, we use the term "online catalog" as one of the search choices - what does this mean to you? We hope it means you are searching our online catalog of all library materials. So here we are in the midsts of website redesign and we have the opportunity to use terminology which is meaningful and which communicates so very clearly that you will know what everything means.....we hope.

A couple more examples to provide and get your input on: "research" - what would you expect to find when you click on this word? Would you even click on it? Ever? What about "programs & events" - what does this mean to you? Would other words make more sense than these 2 words?

These are challenging conversations we hold as we strive toward improvement. Are there other terms on our current site that drive you crazy; that should be changed?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Website Progress Report

1. Timeline is in process of being developed under the capable hands of aHa Consulting who is taking the lead. This blogger tips her hat in thanks for not having to relearn Microsoft Project.

Once the timeline is more fixed, we will be asking you of your interest in being part of a focus group to take a look at what we've conceived so far. If you're interested now in putting your name in the hat, email focusgroups@ald.lib.co.us with your contact information!

2. Back end work has to do with the technical right now. Developing our site map - that blueprint of what content will be on the new site. Besides what you've been reading about (e.g. the collection presenting visually) other content includes the Arapahoe Library District policies and procedures and a lot of what you see in the "About Us" tab right now.

3. Work on the Drupal end with John.

Happy Monday and start of fall!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A book is more than its cover

It's funny how we sometimes remember a book by its cover. In one of the libraries where I used to work, we produced and sold books. Our member base was throughout the United States so we would get calls from one coast to another. They would say, "oh it's the red book that I want to buy" or "you know, that bright yellow one...." Sure enough we, too, would know the book by more than just the title or even the content.

With websites, its more than just the "cover" or the thing you see on your screen as you find the titles you want to put on hold or want to browse for something good to read/listen to/watch.

As you've followed this blog, you know that our redesign is more than just the cover, it's the back end functionality that is being tossed like a proverbial salad (can salads be proverbial?) and reworked. Now, the "why" of this may not enter your mind but in ours it's evident that in order to gain better functionality and efficiency on our end, we need to create what is known as a content management system or CMS. I may have even used the word Drupal - which is an open source CMS and the one of our choosing.

To whet your appetite or to confuse the issue even more, this week's blog invites you to visit some Drupal-based websites. Take a look at some of these just to get a feel for how they look, what they present and then let me know what you like and dislike about them!

After all, we're gonna be more than just a pretty face.........

Fit for a princess
Earth day network
The exhibit
Spread firefox
Ann Arbor Public Library

Monday, September 8, 2008

Announcing Our Vendor Partnerships!

We are most pleased to let you know that we are contracting with two most excellent firms to help us with the website redesign! One firm is local, Zenman Productions, residing near Coors Field. They will be instrumental in the design work of the new website. As you can see from their website, they have quite the artistic flair. Two images of designs they mocked up for us are shown above. Or if you'd like to view them full screen, they are presented here as Mock Up 1 Design and Mock Up 2 Design. Please note that these are only mockups and not the "real deal" - but they give a sense of where we're headed - what do you think?

The second firm we are working with is aHa Consulting from Lake Oswego, Oregon. They bring their expertise in back end content management systems ~ namely a system called Drupal. While Zenman will provide the look that you will interact with, it is aHa together with our talented webmaster, John, who will make sure the site is not just functional but interactive and gets you to where you want to go!

The third part of this puzzle is our internet librarians, Christine, Jill and Alyson, who will be all about content and the flow of content to ensure that the library materials (books, movies, music, programs) are front and center!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Loud and Clear

While there hasn't been information on this blog about the behind-the-scenes work being done with updating the website, we've been busy! Our latest work involves the contracts and once they are signed, I will announce the information here. Sorry no text messaging capability to let you know first.....but then I'm not as high tech as the Obama campaign!

In the meantime, we hope you are liking the row of library materials across the top of the page. We added a row at the bottom of the page, too, if you scroll down. The bottom row features materials which staff have reviewed through podcast or video. Why do I point these features out? Well, it's rather a sneak peak of the concept of the new website. If you've ever visited Netflix or iTunes you can see how they use a grid pattern to display their materials. In our focus group work last year, we hear from you that it was all about getting into the catalog. What we will present with the redesign is the catalog and more of it!

So, until next week's blog, take a look at Netflix and iTunes and try to picture how a library website can look so very differently!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Next Generation.........

I feel like I'm living on the cusp of great and wonderful things. As my son heads towards his junior year of high school, my primary job is to force him....err guide him towards college choices or at least career choices. It comes to mind something I recently heard that many occupations haven't even been created yet!

Websites, too, will be forever changing as new technologies and new ideas bring new features to websites. Bandwidth may be our enemy (or maybe it will be the cost to have decent bandwidth!) but we already see changes happening that we would not have foreseen even five years ago. What - buy and sell things online? To strangers? Share the books I've read or the photos I've taken with anybody surfing the internet? Network virtually? Play games online with people from other countries?

A new term that has been added to my brain is "prosumer" - and we are all prosumers! We are producers and consumers. In the web 1.0 world, we were all consumers. Passive readers of information sought and found on the web.......until web 2.0 where people could produce information and look what happened! We can't get enough of youtube!

The new ALD website will be a prosumer-driven site. Not only will we provide the library materials but we will also provide the forum for you to produce - give us your reviews! The world is changing and we are now spending more time interacting virtually. Where do you interact virtually? Why? How big of a prosumer are you?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Looking for info...in all the right places

Okay, so the title of this blog is a take off of the song "looking for love in all the wrong places" - I thought it might need explaining since my knowledge of songs is limited to those decades when i was growing up and i've been pretty much stuck there.

But the title fits, in that we're all looking for information about lots of things ~ what's the best car for gas mileage, best digital camera, finding the latest movie review or best way to get in shape. How do we go about looking? My guess (and statistics seem to prove this out) is that we're starting with a search engine and just typing in the words that make sense to us with the hopes of finding something with those words that resonate. It does not matter as much to us if the site is a .com or a .edu or a .gov; unless you're a librarian! We are ~ in the main ~ happy with our search results.

So what's the point of the blog, you ask, if you've read this far? As we redesign the website, you will no longer find lots and lots of website links like you do today. We created a large portal of information on various topics ~ all things Colorado, consumer health, business, etc. etc. But, why should we post websites when you use search engines to find them yourself? Do you see your public library as a resource for finding websites? My guess is that you use the library for finding books, computers and programs (in order of importance). This blogger wants to know if I'm wrong!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Searching and Searching Some More

I recently took some time to review search terms....... something I'm sure everyone is jumping up and down to do! What are search terms, you ask? When you go to the website and put something you're looking for in the search box, that information is captured.

Why, you might ask, is this important? Well, by reviewing one month's worth of data, we hope to come up with better ways and methods to help you find what you are looking for! (Don't worry - no personal information is captured so we have no idea who enters what terms in our site!)

A good example would be searching for "princess" and choosing "the site" to find the Disney Princess books. When I look at the search results, I don't find any......so what are my options? We hope you're asking a staff person for help, but if it's 10:00 at night then chances are you're not....... Another example are the searches for "school reading lists." We have put lots of time and effort into making these available......on the teen website.......so you would not necessarily find these by searching the adult site! Without going into technical detail, the search you perform on the http://www.arapahoelibraries.org/ does not search the teensite or the kidsite. So we need to do what we can with the websites to make them better for you!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Getting articles made easier!

When you are searching within the Ebsco databases, you now have a handy live link that says "Request this item through interlibrary loan." I hope this is not so library-jargon-ridden that it is beyond understanding (but please let me know if you think this is the case!). What the translation might read:

"This database does not have the full-text article you are seeking. If you would like to have the full-text then click on the link, fill out the required relevant information and click submit. Your form will be emailed to the appropriate department who will then obtain the full-text article for you. While it may take a week or two (because we may be requesting from an out-of-state library), we will try to provide this information to you at no charge."

This is just one small improvement in your website experience with http://www.arapahoelibraries.org/. If there are other features you would like/love to see or features now that you absolutely just detest, here's the place to let me know!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Of Library Websites

What do you like in websites? What do you particularly like or don't like when visiting library websites?

I recently found a list of renovated library websites and was pursuing them with interest - what new things do they do? How do they portray their catalog? What is different and what are new features?

If you are interested in doing the same, follow this link and then give me your input!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Minor Changes To Report

We've made a few tweaks to the home page:

1.  the Contact Us button is now higher up for easy access.  When you click here, you are taken to a page which consolidates all of the ways you can contact us - phone, email, the contact us form, etc.  Hopefully this helps to cut down on the clutter in trying to find this information in different places.

2.  the Homework Help button is no longer on the home page.  As an electronic service, you can now search the site to find the link from this home page.  More appropriately, you can easily find Homework Help in the childrens and teen sites by searching the site.

We are working diligently on our new website design and content management back end.  Continue to check the blog for updates as we make progress!

Monday, June 30, 2008

New Feature - No Re-verify

I love cubicle conversations and learn so much from them.....from sharing recipes like sweet potato rolls to learning about new shopping destinations! Besides the fun that comes from office conversations, I just learned that we now offer something called "no re-verify." While very much the internal and technical term, what it means for you and I is that once we enter "my library account," we can then go into the research databases without needing to enter our library card again! We can jump to the catalog and place a hold without needing to enter our library card again (you will be prompted for location pickup).

For me, this is a great feature. I was helping my kids with homework and moving from one database to another. Each time I was prompted to type in my library card number. This will save time (especially when I can't type well in the first place!) and provide greater convenience, too.

Here's hoping you love this new "no re-verify" feature like I do!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Search, Search, Search

Isn't that what the internet is all about? Search to find tidbits of information, to confirm our plane reservations. In my case it was to win a bet on the dates of the DNC here in Denver next month (okay, so my life isn't quite so animating!). We know you visit the Arapahoe Library District website because the numbers tell us so. But what do you do when you get there? Do you skim the articles on the page? Does your eye go to the Latest @ your library box to see what's new?

It seems that most of you are keying in on the ever so important search box. That tells us this feature needs to not only stay but to possibly be even more prominent on the home page. Some of you do search the site and some of you search for articles, too, from this search box.

Give a holler to let me know what you do when you visit our website!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Grids and more grids!

You would think from the title that this blog entry is talking about football...but alas, with summer in full swing my mind is a long way from the cold weather days of football season.

Grids, in this case, refers to the row of books we have at the top of the home page. I hope you enjoy seeing a more graphic appearance of what you would find in the library. To that end we have included a new grid at the bottom of the home page which features titles from our ALD Live collection. What is ALD Live you ask? Here we feature video and audio reviews of our material - take a look and let me know what you think!

Besides adding this grid, you will now find easy access to the latest programs at the library from the home page. On the right you will see Programs & Events box - you can click the title to access the program calendar here or on the left side navigation.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Databases Available!

Through support from the State, we now have more research databases to offer to you! Access to topics such as history, science, more business and more full text popular magazines are just a keystroke away! This link takes you to a complete list of databases. Among the new offerings are:
  • Corporate ResourceNet - for business articles
  • History Reference Center - for everything history related find articles, biographies, videos, photos and more!
  • Literary Reference Center - covers everything you need to know about literature
  • Science Reference Center & Nursing and Allied Health
  • MasterFile - for popular articles (and Consumer Reports!)

I hope you enjoy these new products - let me know if you have questions!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Making Changes - In a Minor Way

Change and minor may not go together - are they mutually exclusive words? Can any change be minor or is all change major because something is different or something has happened?

Well, to get to the point of this blog entry, we have "remodelled!" The Parenting area you have been used to seeing in the adult side of the website has now moved into Tales Treehouse! Tales is happy to have the company, where we feel the content is better aligned. There are still links from the adult side but you can click on Kids to find lots of great content in the Parent beehive! Look for info on Parent Resources, the Parent Blog where we provide a tip of the day, literacy aids and lots about our Storytimes! We hope you will enjoy the content; let us know what you think!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Language Learning through Arapahoe Library District

I have heard from many of you that you are very much enjoying the Rosetta Stone product which is available with your Arapahoe Library District card. Language learning is a popular subject, whether you are travelling or using it as a school resource. We were not happy to report its demise effective June 30, 2008 but the company changed its distribution methods which means that you would no longer be able to access Rosetta Stone from your home computer.

I am happy to convey that we have found another product, Tell Me More from Auralog, which we hope to have in place July 1, 2008. Also featuring language learning online through your computer remotely, I hope this product meets your needs.

Please let me know if you have concerns or questions.

Monday, May 12, 2008

More Library 2.0

As of this writing, there is nothing new happening with website updates to report. We have posted the rfp for website designers and should know more a month from now.

So this post will delve more into the 2.0 world as it relates to that which we all love - books! You've probably heard about librarything - a site for people to catalog their books, talk about their books, tag their books and share their books. It is very popular and keeps growing its features. It is a fun project to watch as we librarians play with the features and discuss how libraries should be more interactive. Would you like to enter your own subject headings for things you've read? If I tagged something "civil war historical fiction" does it make more sense than remembering the official subject heading is United States - History - Civil War. 1861-1865 - Fiction?

Another product that I've been playing with is Shelfari - something similar to librarything as far as community for sharing and remembering books. I can post my own comments, tags, and retrieve the book cover to put on my own bookcase (disclaimer: I just started entering titles and those on the bookshelf were only those I could recall at the moment!).

Do you have an account with librarything or shelfari? Care to share your story about it? Do you interact with it? Use it regularly? It is, indeed, an interactive world if you're using tools such as these.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Library 2.0

In the library world we tend to throw our jargon around with expectations of understanding. We say "periodicals" instead of "magazines" and we say "reference" instead of "books that don't check out" and we say "juvenile" instead of "childrens." I hope we are doing better but please let us know when you run across terms and phrases which have no meaning for you - it means we need to do better!

The term "2.0", however, is not really library jargon. It refers more generally to the phase of the internet when it became more interactive. If you remember way back when (and I'm giving my age away!) we used the internet to read and to learn cool stuff but it was never to respond back to anything. Now, technology has made the internet interactive. We can blog and have conversations, look at photos online, watch videos and comment, too. There's even talk about web 3.0 but that's a different blog post altogether!

The reason for mentioning 2.0 is to let you know that we will be incorporating elements of interactivity in the redesign. To get a preview, visit the teensite where you will see comments on various materials and programs being made by the public. Our hope is to make the website a community centered around great reading and great interaction!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Portal No More

Our website is a portal - an entryway to the world wide web where we have chosen quality websites and organized them into categories, much like taking books and putting them on the shelves in a orderly fashion.

Search engines are so good in finding information that the need for us to organize websites is being reexamined as we continue our work in website redesign.

The current thought is to normalize websites as content and try to incorporate them into places where you would normally be searching. For instance, if I were looking for information on xeriscape I would see my results in the catalog with all of the library materials available to me. Wouldn't it be gravy if I could see some great websites in the same search result? Call it "one stop shopping!" Is this something you would like to see?

The other thought running parallel is to create subject guides in relevant topics for which we purchase content, such as the databases. So if I'm a potential business owner who is seeking business plans, then a subject guide called Business Plans that leads me to books, websites, and databases would be ideal to start my search. If there are such topics that you feel could use some attention toward becoming a subject guide, then let me know.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Upcoming - another search box option

Librarians like to tell you we provide quality Content. Our buildings are more than just a pretty location with lots of good materials on the shelves for your reading, viewing or listening pleasure. We have depth and we have Content! Tons of magazine articles & newspaper articles that come from quality sources (peer reviewed even!) that sit in something called a "research database."

Then came Google......with its simple search box and easy interface. So many of you (and librarians, too!) use this search box many times in a day to find answers to questions. According to studies conducted, we are mostly happy with the results Google provides us. So where does that leave librarians who still have great Content but with no one to use them?

Well, depending on the library website you visit, some libraries have purchased a software that automatically searches for this great Content all together and presents it to you in one nifty package. Others, like Arapahoe Library District, continue to ask you to choose a database and search them individually.

You will soon see on the home page a new search option called "articles online" - please take a moment to play, to experiment and to let me know what you think of this feature! We've used one of the database vendor's search box & placed its function on the home page for convenience. When you enter your search term, it is automatically searching multiple databases (no more having to choose unless you want to!) and returning results to you. Is this easier? Better? Usable enough you would use it again? Rediscover your library!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Finding Magazine and Newspaper Articles

One of the things we will be doing more of in the future is asking you questions and gathering your input in order to make changes that are proactive.

During January we posted a survey on the website asking how you find magazine and newspaper articles, how often, and on what topics. The results were very informative! On the one hand, you search for magazine and newspaper information regularly and on topics such as current news, health and personal finance. On the other hand, it looks like you are using your local search engine as a primary starting point on your discovery trail.

The point of this survey was to ascertain your knowledge about the extensive electronic resources in which we subscribe. By clicking on 'research databases' you will find the list of products offered in various subjects. Not only will you find magazine articles from popular magazines such as Consumer Reports, but also newspaper articles (both locally and nationally). Unique items carried in databases include auto repair, practice tests for SAT, GED - to name a few - and business plans as well as information on senior housing.

One of the puzzles we are attempting to solve is how to normalize the information found in databases so that you can conduct one search to find information from the catalog as well as from the databases at the same time. We'll keep you posted on how we're doing! In the meantime, if you find websites you feel are doing a great job in providing you quality searches, feel free to let me know here!

Happy National Library Week!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Locations and Hours Renovations

Much like we renovate buildings or put new paint on the walls of our homes for a new look, the Locations & Hours pages have undergone a redesign. If you've relied on this button to get to your favorite location, it's been moved up the navigation and now appears in the #4 spot under Programs & Events. Why? This is based on hearing from you that locations & hours are one of the most sought after pieces of information!

When you click on the Locations & Hours button, the page looks more directory-like with the same information that was provided previously: address, contact information, hours. What we've added are amenity buttons which provide features specific to each branch. Need to find storytimes at Castlewood Library? The icon will find them for you! Need to know if a meeting room is available at Southglenn? Try the icon! What about programs at Kelver? You get the picture.......

Another new feature is the search the catalog box under each branch. By entering your search term, your results are limited only to that location and only to available items. We've tried to save you a few keystrokes and make the search more convenient for you. If you like the broader search of materials at all locations, the general search box at the top of the page provides that.

Lastly, when you click on the name of the library you are taken to information specific to that branch. In the near future, you will find articles and information posted about your favorite location.

Let us know what you think of these changes!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Focus Group Input

Last summer, we conducted a series of three focus groups with interested adults. We presented a redesign of our adult website and asked for input. What a great group! Following is the information we gathered:

  • the majority go to the website to find library materials. Access to the catalog is of prime importance and
  • two secondary reasons for visiting the website are to find out about programs and to use the "locations and hours" button
We are using this information to drive the changes to the adult website. This is one of the reasons you are now seeing book covers on the home page! We will soon be rolling out a newly designed Locations and Hours page that provides greater functionality and information about your home library.

Your input and comments are welcome!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Welcome to the Arapahoe Library District Blog!

The purpose of this blog is to let you know about the changes being made to the website. Posts will be made on a regular basis, but probably not daily. The nifty thing about blogs is the ability to hear back from you!

At the end of each entry (or article) you will see a "comment" link. When you click on it, a new window opens with a box providing you input about changes being made.

As you can see from the home page, we've made some minor tweaks. Across the top you will see covers of materials. The News feed which used to provide national news is gone. We've replaced it with "Latest @ your library" which is news about ALD. Under the feature articles you will find "Programs & Events" where the latest programs and classes will be highlighted.

We hope you enjoy the interaction and the improvements that will occur this year!