Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

What to Do Once Your Site Is Built

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

What to Do Once Your Site Is Built

Article excerpt

Abstract

When maintaining a digital branch, your work is never done. This chapter of "Building the Digital Branch: Guidelines for Transforming Your Library Website" provides guidelines for what steps to take once your site is built and launched. It includes how to train your staff to help maintain the site, how to continue to work with your community to ensure their needs are met, and a sample style guide for staff who create site content.

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You have worked hard to transform your traditional library website into a digital branch. You've done careful planning, gotten approval, built your site, and launched it. It has all the features you planned, your library hoped for, and your community approved. Now that your website is transformed, are you finished? Not even close. At this point in your work, your focus can shift to three things: staff, the site, and your community.

Focus on Staff

Now that you already have the digital branch running, library staff are trained in the basics like how to post to the site, and you've given them some ideas for starting out. Now you need to work with staff to maintain the digital branch.

Continuous Writing

Staff can't just upload some content onto the site one time and then move on to the next project. Adding content is similar to buying materials for your library--you never really stop doing it. If you do, your content will get old and outdated and people will stop reading it or clicking through it.

How are you supposed to continually develop new content for a digital branch? Here are a couple of ideas: One is to be a lifelong learner in your area of the library. Are you a reference librarian? I'll bet that you find a new tool every week or so or discover a new resource that would be useful to share with patrons. There's your blog post for the week! Teen librarian? Just read Rolling Stone or Paste magazine (or some other much cooler magazine or Web-based entertainment site). Whenever you get in something new that fits with that content, blog about it--provide a direct link, and any locally flavored info (e.g., That cool band? The singer's mother-in-law lives in Kansas!). The goal here is to share relevant information.

Some staff members will easily be able to write new content. On the other hand, if you're not that type of person, you might need to schedule some weekly writing time. For example, you could set a reminder that every Tuesday at 3 p.m. you'll write for thirty minutes. Half an hour isn't too long, and you should be able to pump out at least one short blog post in that amount of time. If you write more, so much the better--you're ahead of schedule!

The point is that you have to make writing and posting a priority. With a digital branch, one of your goals should be to connect with your online community. You can't do that if it's not a priority.

Job-Specific Training

Since your digital branch needs to incorporate multimedia as well, you might need to teach your staff how to do things like take photos and post videos to the Web. For videos, if your organization has a little money in the budget, go buy either a consumer-level digital camera or a Flip video camera (see figure 13). The digital camera will most likely have a video setting--this works great for starting down the video path. If you don't have the resources to purchase a camera, see if you can borrow one from a staff member or community organization. Librarians at my library who started making videos used their own cameras at first, and they created some nice videos that way.

The Flip camera is even better because it is an extremely simple video camera. There's one big red button that you push to start recording, and that's it. Plug the Flip camera into a PC, and it has entry-level editing software built in. When you're ready to upload a video to the Web, you can post your video to YouTube automatically (assuming you set up your YouTube account first). …

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