June 16, 2009

Sneak Peek at the Library's New Website

We told you about it last summer, and we’ve been working on it since then.

Now, we are ready to launch our new website, troylibrary.info. The launch date is tentatively set for June 22. [Update: After a slight delay, we will be launching the new site on October 1.]

Last year, we evaluated our existing website. It served us well, but as a child of the 1990s, it was more static than interactive, and not compatible with recent changes to the Internet.

We decided to recreate completely the Library’s online presence: We would create a content-managed website, using the opensource software Drupal. This allows us to include more staff in writing for our website, and to deliver regularly updated content to our users. As a result, we would focus as much on moving our patrons through our site to the information you need, as on making our site a destination.

For several months, the Library’s website team – Lauren Henderson, John Robertson, Chris Hunsanger, and I – have been learning Drupal, studying other sites, investigating social networking trends and tools, and teaching Library staff to create content, to produce what we think is an exciting new service for Library users – troylibrary.info.

Here’s a sneak peek:

The centerpiece of our new site is, quite literally, the center of the site. Here, Library staff will post regularly updated content about new services, products, and events. Department-specific information will be on our new, department pages. You can find these links across the top. The most important Library-wide information will be “promoted” to the home page.

You will be able to comment on the content, or subscribe to it via RSS. If you subscribe, you can pick from Library-wide information, department information, new programs, or new book reviews.

In addition, the site is fully searchable. You won’t have to remember when and where we wrote that information you need now. Just search for it and you will find it, along with other useful ideas.

On the left side, you will notice that we kept something from our existing site: our most popular links, under Library Links. If you want to search our catalog, electronic resources, or downloadable audiobooks; view our programs calendar or book reviews; or find Library information (under our new FAQ page), you can look where you have always looked. Department pages will have their own department-specific links in addition to the Library Links.

While keeping something familiar, we have added many tools that will let you interact with staff in new ways.

I am especially excited about our new Virtual Reference service. Now, you’ll be able to chat via instant message with a Library staff member during our open hours from the "Have A Question?" box on the right side of the page. You will be able to use your favorite messenger service – Yahoo Messenger, Gmail, MSN Messenger or AOL – or chat directly from our home page. If you need help while online, you can receive an immediate answer.

Just above our Virtual Reference box, you will find our locations on social networks; and just below, you will find images from around the Library.

These are just a few of the changes on our new sites. In the coming months, we plan on rolling out new pages for young adults, more content for senior citizens, video and audiocasting, and many more ways for you to use troylibrary.info for all your needs.

If you would like more information, watch for our upcoming classes on using our new website and accessing all of our resources whenever you need them, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Let us know what you think.


zebuladesign said...

Looks good!

Anonymous said...

i'm glad they're designing a new website!!!

spacepenguine said...

Looks great! A well needed update. Personally, the frames on the old website drive me crazy, and are hard to validate correctly (15 errors). I'm glad there has been some progress, as I heard about this a while back when i was helping with the Troy High School site. (that one's due for another upgrade, too)

BTW... i find it interesting that index.html has a title of "TPL Homepage2" and index2.html is "TPL Homepage".

Anonymous said...

it looks a lot better than the one from before!

maggiwun said...

I see everything on there except for the most obvious thing, which is: where do I register my card, so I can check which books I have out and when they are due? For the life of me, I can't find it on your old site either. Where is that?

silteplait said...

Maggiwun - you can't register your card online, which is probably why you can't find a link. You have to create a password in person at the Library. I know, somewhat of an inconvenience, but that's the way it works.

Phillip Kwik said...

At the same time the we launch our new website, we will also be rolling out a new software system for our item searching and user accounts.

This software will allow us to put a search box for our catalog right on our website. It will also allow us to put a link to the account login, right on our website.

Both of these tools will be located in the top left hand corner of our new site.

Anonymous said...

Its great that the system will be updated, but why did I lose all my current holds?

Phillip Kwik said...

As part of our software upgrade, you may have discovered that some of your holds have disappeared. These holds will be replaced as soon as the upgrade is completed next week. All existing holds will be transferred to our new system.

During this upgrade, we are doing our best to ensure the smoothest transition for all of the library's records, without hassle to our users. We appreciate your patience as we work through the final steps of the project. And we apologize for any inconvenience.

In the meantime, please feel free to call the Library if you have any questions at 248.619.7583.

Anonymous said...

I had heard that since Troy will be on a different computer system than other members in the Suburban Cooperative, that Troy will no longer be able to place items on hold that are located in other member libraries. Is this true?

Phillip Kwik said...

After we upgrade our system, Troy residents still have access to all the materials available through the Troy Library, the Suburban Library Cooperative libraries and many more libraries. However, the procedure will be slightly different than what it has been in the past.

Troy residents will place holds on all Troy-owned material through our new software, and on all Suburban Library Cooperative material through the current SLC web-based catalog, iBistro. The non-Troy-owned material will have to be picked up at the owning libraries.

In addition, Troy residents, will be able to place holds on material in nearly every other library in Michigan – including the Dearborn and Detroit public libraries, and many academic libraries – through the Michigan eLibrary catalog (MeLCat). This material will be picked up at the Troy Library. If you are interested in using MeLCat, please ask a staff member at a public service desk.

Non-resident, courtesy card holds will still have access to all Troy-owned material, as they currently do now.

Anonymous said...

the comment on holds is not very helpful. i do not understand the perceived contradiction between papagraphs 2 and 3. what is Melcat? how does it differ from SLC. if my book on hold is at a library in SLC, must i travel to that library to pick it up? Why would the TPL consider this improved service?

Anonymous said...

So you mean to tell us that we gained a new website but lost the ability to pick up items from the SLC at the Troy location.

How is this a good thing? And how is this a slight change? It looks to me like we are giving up core library functionality (make access to books as easy as possible) in exchange for a shiny interface.

I wish the Troy library patrons were aware of this decision when it was made. I would rather get my books through a boring website than having to drive around after work to pick them up from all over Metro Detroit.

Phillip Kwik said...

Thanks for your comments.

We believe that our new software system will result in several benefits for our users.

If the Troy Library does not own a book, and you want a copy specifically from one of the 20 Suburban Library Cooperative libraries, you will have to go to the owning library to pick it up.

However, if you want any copy of the book, regardless of which other libraries own it, you can place the hold through the Michigan eLibrary MeLCat system, a statewide library catalog. If you are a Troy resident, the book will be delivered to the Troy Library for you to pick up.

MeLCat is web-based, so you can access it from any Internet computer anywhere. This means that from home, work or vacation, you now have the ability to place a hold on a book in nearly every library in the state and have it delivered to your home library. We believe that this is a real improvement in service.

In addition, our new software is more user friendly, allowing you to refine your search in ways that you cannot with our current software. So if you are looking for DVDs, books on CD, or other media, you will be able to find them quicker, without scrolling through lists of unrelated items. If you know only partial titles or authors, the advanced search feature in our new software will make your search easier and more productive.

Finally, our new software will save the City over $450,000 the next five years. At the same time, we are reallocating our collection resources to ensure that the Troy Library has what people want, so you don't have to go anywhere else. Please don’t hesitate to make suggestions for purchase, if there is something that we do not own.

If you are still not convinced, please visit the Library's Technology Desk, and ask for me. I would be more than happy to walk you through your options, and show you why we believe our new software system is an improvement in services.

Phillip Kwik said...

The website redesign and the move to new software for our Library catalog are two unrelated events. We were planning a website design regardless of what catalog software we use.

And we believe, that both are sound decisions.

Our new website has not just improved the look of site, but also its functionality. It allows for great access to resources, and greater interaction with Library staff.

Our new library catalog will save hundred of thousands of dollars, and improve your ability to find material.

We also believe that this cost savings, and using our new software catalog along with the MeLCat catalog mentioned above, will actually, improve access to material for Troy residents.