2009 Computers in Libraries - D105 - Summary of Maria Gebhardt's Presentation


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This document is a summary of the presentation from the 2009 Computers in Libraries conference in Crystal City, VA.

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2009 Computers in Libraries - D105 - Summary of Maria Gebhardt's Presentation

  1. 1. D105: Achieving the Dream to Go Green Broward County Library’s Web Site – Feedback, Redesign, Electronic Communications, and Check Out Being Green Campaign Maria Gebhardt Libraries Manager Broward County Library mgebhardt@browardlibrary.org 954-357-7570 Broward County Library transformed its Web site into a forward-thinking resource with a wide range of online and interactive features that make the site not only more user-friendly, but also increases the awareness of library services and resources. The library increased its Web traffic from 40,000 electronic visitors to more than 300,000 per month. The Web pages viewed by customers also increased by more than 300 percent in just three years. Online viewership of the library’s monthly magazine grew tremendously with only 2,000 downloads in 2004 to a total of 514,143 downloads in fiscal year 2008 – saving the library $133,677.18 if those downloaded issues had been printed. Broward County Library developed a Web site plan with a core focus placed on gathering feedback from customers and developing sustainable weekly and monthly electronic communications. The library also created a cohesive promotional campaign to promote online services to customers. I - Feedback: The library relaunched its Web site in 2004 with a focus on gathering substantial feedback from customers. The library conducted surveys to learn about the characteristics of its customers, identify customer needs and wants, and define customer usage rates. Four methods were used to distribute the survey: • Print – The survey was printed in the library’s monthly magazine. • Web site – An online form was created to allow users to submit information online. • In Person – Surveys were administered in library locations during peak operating hours. • Impromptu – Staff proactively talked with customers. The best two methods to collect feedback were through the library’s Web site and impromptu. The library learned that the Web site needed to provide the essential information as well as interesting features to spark customer interest. Moreover, the first impression of a Web site visitor is critical. Visitors who find incorrect information or broken links may not revisit, and might be lost forever. Relaunch: The library used the relaunch of its Web site to gain both customer support and publicity. By holding
  2. 2. a contest to select the theme and logos for services and types of features, the library was able to gather support and obtain free media coverage. II - E-Communication: Broward County Library has successfully developed a detailed E-Communications program. Instead of communicating at the customers with basic, one-way communication, the E-Communication program focuses on two-way communication with customers providing feedback and receiving continual updates. Benefits of two-way communication include: 1. Customers are reminded of the variety of online resources and referred to the library’s Web site on a regular basis. 2. Customers are continually building a relationship with the library resulting in positive-brand image. 3. Customer behavior is conditioned to expect electronic communications. The library developed an electronic newsletter in November 2004 with just a few subscribers and a simplistic design. With a rapid number of subscribers, the E-Newsletter was redesigned and improved. In 2007, the E-Newsletter won Best of Class from the National Association of County Information Officers awards competition. Today, the E-Newsletter reaches almost 10,000 monthly subscribers, and has won numerous national awards. With documented success, the library expanded its line of E-Communication tools to include three new services: E-Spotlights – weekly e-mails with staff-written reviews of books, photos, and reference questions/answers; E-Updates – monthly e-mails of new acquisitions and programs by library location; E-Invitations – e-mails informing customers of upcoming ceremonies. III - Going Green: After being impacted with budget reductions, the library was faced with less printing dollars, less staff, and less time to complete work. A new campaign was needed to promote all of these online features under one umbrella. The library created a Check Out Being Green campaign promoting the library’s shared resources and online services. Tips for Repositioning to Green: • Instead of printing costly materials such as color brochures and newsletters, upload .pdf versions to the Web site. • Upload online versions of press releases to increase search engine optimization. • Develop online communication tools. • Utilize social networking sites. • Highlight databases inside library locations, so customers can get a hands-on experience. • Create an Experts’ Database with specialties and interest of staff members.