Magazine article Information Today

Libraries Should Stand out from the Crowd

Magazine article Information Today

Libraries Should Stand out from the Crowd

Article excerpt

Sandy Schulman is vice president of marketing at Comtex Scientific Corporation in Alexandria, Virginia. She can be reached at sschulman@comtexnews.com.

Here are some tools and examples to help you bring your services into focus

There's a uniqueness that each library, knowledge management center, or corporate information service has. Your library delivers value in a way that no other does. Perhaps there's something special your organization does to follow up reference questions. Or do you offer a one-of-a-kind service? Maybe it's the attitude and friendliness of the staff that says this place is the best. Whatever characteristics set you apart from a similar library may be something you want to convey as part of your image.

Yes, even your library automation system can help you to portray yourself in a way that sets you apart from other organizations!

Early automation systems didn't allow for this. Nor did these systems allow for any real customization to speak of. At best, a library had a spot to put its name in one of the system's screen displays. But over time, customization evolved to allow for option selections that further differentiated one customer's system from another, when using the same system vendor's product. Most available option selections had to do with what features were to be turned on or off in particular system modules. It was hardly ever as sophisticated as being able to introduce additional functions or even text into the system.

Today's system solutions and information services offer many more customization options. The best part of today's opportunities is that you can have a unique look and feel without necessarily having to spend all of your time getting to that point. The alternatives that exist now are both do-it-yourself and vendor-assisted products . Tools exist to make short work of creating interfaces and services that will convey your message and ideas exactly. Most of the product solutions being offered are browser-based and made possible by that technology.

A number of vendors are advertising their ability to provide design customization tools for new products. Two interesting offerings are from The Library Corporation (TLC) and UMI. TLC offers Site*Solution as the vendor-assisted answer to building and hosting a Web site.

TLC's Site*Solution

TLC will host your site on one of their dedicated servers. They will also provide professionally designed templates for you to choose from for your site. You can go further and have TLC design that special look and feel exclusively for you. Or you can choose one of the templates and add your own graphics for that individual quality that will help your library stand out.

An editor for use within your own browser is also provided so that you can change the content on your site. It's not necessary to know HTML, although TLC does advise that "... a basic understanding of HTML makes Site*Solution even more versatile." You can also maintain your own calendar of events and develop your own content sections.

These are just some of the highlights of TLC's Site*Solution.

UMI's SiteBuilder

UMI is offering ProQuest Direct SiteBuilder, a Web-based service. SiteBuilder allows you to select applications to offer on your ProQuest Direct so that you're addressing your specific needs in the way that makes the most sense for your library. Again, templates and support are offered as with Site*Solution. There are some very interesting features to choose from, especially for a corporate information service. …

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