Somewhere in your public library is at least one collection of the famous story “The Three Little Pigs.” You remember the old fable – the one with the piglets who build their homes from straw, wood, and brick – because it’s a tale about preparation that has been passed down through the ages.
Not only is that a literary tradition for children, but it’s also a good segue into the topic of web design for public libraries. Why? Because many decision makers didn’t have the forethought to upgrade their websites in anticipation of a disruptive event like the pandemic we are currently working through. They figured they would put off the improvements they knew were needed until a better time… right up until the moment it seemed to be too late.
What we have learned from working with libraries throughout the US, though, is that it isn’t too late to fix the problem. Some of our clients have seen online visits, community engagement, and even funding increase in the weeks after launching a new library website. They are connecting with their patrons better than they ever have before.
To put this another way, the best time to upgrade your library website was before Covid-19. If you missed that window then the second best time is right now. Here are some things you want to have in your library website to make it through our pandemic-affected world in 2021 and beyond…
Online Catalogs and Collections
In most cases, the most important thing about a library is what’s inside. By cataloguing items that can be viewed or borrowed, or putting together an online reservation system, you can remain helpful and relevant to your community while minimizing in-person contact. And, with today’s digital data management tools, it’s easier than ever to keep track of what you have on hand and show which items have been loaned out in real time.
Patron Engagement Tools
We believe implementing the proper tools on your website will help shape your libraries’ outreach, and make the library a top-of-mind resource for the patrons in your community during the pandemic. Incorporating an emergency alerts banner on your site can keep your patrons informed about COVID-19 openings and closings. Virtual events are the norm so having these events prominently listed on your site and through various calendaring options are important. Digital resources should be given particular attention so that you may reach a wider audience and raise awareness for those who may be engaging with the library digitally for the first time.
Non-Written Media and Resources
Of course, libraries aren’t only about books. You might have special resources like videos, photographs, or even recordings of filmstrips that can all be shared online. You could even create special sections for students, researchers, and those interested in local history or topics. Doing so allows you to make your library’s best features more accessible to a wider audience, particularly at a time when it might not be safe or convenient for people to visit.
Tools for Employees, Donors, and Volunteers
Even in a public library there are business considerations that have to be factored in. For instance, you might be somewhat dependent on grants, volunteer hours, or donations from supporters. You might also prefer to incorporate online scheduling or training tools for your employees. By adding these features to your website you lower costs, give yourself new ways to accept money, and decrease your workload all at once.
Weblinx Knows Library Websites
In a lot of industries web design projects are very similar from one client to the next. That’s not the case with libraries. Building a library website requires a special focus on factors like budget, user engagement and interaction, unique collections, and so much more.
If you want to work with a team that can help you plan, design, and launch your public library website from a place of creativity and experience, then your first call should be to Weblinx. We will be happy to schedule a free website consultation and help you get your project moving forward.