Considering the Digital Library Branch


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Considering the Digital Branch: Extending Your Library's Reach into the Community presented by Catherine McMullen, Butte-Silver Bow Public Library at Montana Library Association Offline Technology Conference February 2010. A big thank you to David Lee King at Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library for developing and teaching the concept of the Digital Branch.

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Considering the Digital Library Branch

  1. 1. Catherine McMullen Digital Collections Librarian Butte-Silver Bow Public Library Considering the Digital Branch: Extending Your Library's Reach into the Community dewy branch from Flickr user Muffet (
  2. 2. - Butte-Silver Bow Public Library using Wordpress
  3. 3. - New York Public Library built on Drupal
  4. 4. - Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
  5. 5. What is a Digital Branch? What makes it different from a website? What makes it similar to a physical branch? Does it have library staff? Does it have books? ...images? ...movies? Does it require membership? ...residency? ...library card? Does a digital branch need maintence staff? Are there meeting rooms or spaces to hang out? Can patrons move the furniture around? ...dim the lights? a window?
  6. 6. Physical and Traditional Library Branch
  7. 7. Building Library of Congress Great Hall ( from Flickr user Little Koshka; Butte- Silver Bow Public Library watercolor by LeRoy Cottom; Cover from Catalogue of Books in the Butte Free Public Library (1894) by John F. Davies (
  8. 8. Budget Money, it’s a crime from Flickr user kiki99 (
  9. 9. Staff Librarian ( ) from Flickr user Dumio_Momio.
  10. 10. Collections Old Leather Books from Flickr user Wyoming_Jackrabbit (
  11. 11. Community National Folk Festival, Butte 2009 Flickr user SheltieBoy (
  12. 12. What other core “stuff” makes up a library?
  13. 13. Digital or Online Library Branch Notes added: What is the difference then between a PHYSICAL library and a DIGITAL library branch? The main difference really is found in that word digital… a digital library branch is online… BUT it has all of the same core “stuff” that the physical library branch has. But how does that make a digital branch different from a library website? A traditional library website is ABOUT the library, a digital branch provides access to the library and its services.
  14. 14. Notes added: A digital branch has real structure and design. Pick out the Real CMS location, move this window here or there, upkeep, maintenance etc. Building/Structure Post-its by Flickr user Sidereal (
  15. 15. Real Budget Notes Added: Digital branches need a real budget just like physical branches. Budgets for purchasing online resources, online space, time dedicated to working with digital branch, time dedicated to working with patrons who visit the digital branch. Washington Quarter by Flickr user kevindooley (
  16. 16. Notes Added: A Digital branch needs real Staff. Build the site Maintain the site Interact with patrons Plan and host content Real Staff Hold meetings In a larger library this may be a number of staff members, in a smaller library one person might do it all or a few people might spend some percentage of their time working at the digital branch. The staff are real, they aren’t plastic action figures. Library Staff Rock by Flickr user Homer Township Public Library ( Special appearance by Nancy Pearl action figure.
  17. 17. Real Collection Not just to search the Catalog but also to…. • Download a book, music, movie • Listen to a podcast • Access a database Even contribute content?
  18. 18. Notes added (Real Collection): The digital branch has a real collection that can not only be searched… Yes access to the catalog is essential but if that is all you have you’re just thinking website not digital branch. Patrons should have access to resources (books, music, podcasts, databases, downloads, etc). Patrons might even contribute content to the collections via a community blog or upload area for music etc. What kind of content do we have at Butte-Silver Bow? Internet archive links in catalog - Download audio books – Montana Library2Go Montana Memory Project - (local content) Flickr - (local content) Move into “deeply local” Kathryn Greenhill in Australia Strategy for survival
  19. 19. Real Community Images from The Red Couch Project by on Flickr (
  20. 20. Notes Added (Real Community): Who is already participating online socially? Where are they hanging out, attending meetings, interacting with each other, having discussions? Where are they already building community? Myspace, Facebook, Flickr, Community Wikis, Newspaper comments, Twitter, Ning, maybe even Google Buzz How old are social network users? Chart - Are we afraid of losing control over our sites, our digital space? What about the “trolls”? We do have some options. Posting clear rules for participation. NPR example: Community Discussion Rules- Moderating comments (but do it quickly) Blocking all comments on the website but having space elsewhere for comments… BSB Facebook BSB Flickr BSB Twitter Blocking all comments (I don’t recommend this) We can start by peeking into the 2.0 world, opening a twitter account, exploring on facebook, myspace, etc… listening first (lurking) before creating a library space and voice.
  21. 21. Building Budget Staff Collection Community
  22. 22. Notes slide (added for clarity): Lets look at some library websites. How might some of the other core “stuff” we brainstormed earlier be manifested online? Are they focused on providing information about the library or are they focused on providing actual library services online? New York Public Library: Butte-Silver Bow Public Library: Tokepa & Shawnee County Library: Gonzaga University: Anyone want to look at their own library website?
  23. 23. What about the communities we serve in Montana? Red Lodge Carnegie Public Library from Flickr user Michael Barton (
  24. 24. Speaking of Community… Seth Godin from Flickr user Amy Kearn ( You don’t share Butte-Silver Bow Public Library social web, social web shares you. Montana State University Libraries Teressa Keenan and Steven McCann University of Montana (images courtesy of Facebook). David Lee King on Flickr (
  25. 25. Resources: Physical: David Lee King, “Building the Digital Branch: Guidelines to Transform Your Website,” Library Technology Reports 45:6 (2009) David Lee King, Designing the Digital Experience: How to Use Experience Design Tools & Techniques to Build Websites Customers Love (Medford, NJ: CyberAge Books, 2008) Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us (New York: Penguin Group, 2008) Digital: Stephen Abram, Stephen’s Lighthouse: (Info, Tech, and Library Trends) Seth Godin, Seth’s Blog: (Reaching People, Marketing) Kathryn Greenhill, “Getting deeply local at our libraries,” Librarians Matter: (06/24/2009) David Lee King: (Digital Branch) Steve McCann, A Digital Outrigger: (Digital Content) / Heather Mansfield, Nonprofit Tech 2.0: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits: (Useful Social Media Tips)