IL2007: Online Outreach

Sarah Houghton-Jan and Aaron Schmidt

Good to know: Sarah Houghton-Jan will be in costume on Wednesday. Also, they’re distributing “Change Agent” badges. And they started with a video with electronica background music, not a powerpoint. I love these conferences. The presentation will be up on both of their websites.

“Talking about a web presence, but also that if we’re marketing something, we need to be marketing something worthwhile, not selling snake oil.”

How to make a good library website? Make it 2 way. Users can now have a voice on the entire web — do you want your website to be the one place they can’t contribute? And, blurring of jurisdictional lines: Online, everyone’s patrons are your patrons.

  • Search engine findability. Can your library be found in major search engines using the major variations on what people call you? Don’t just use Google — use the other (minor?) search engines. Check your web stats to see where people are coming in from, and make sure you’re easily findable in those places. (I think this applies to the college website, as well — advocate for good visual placement and useful search results in campus CMS)
  • Specifically for publibs, make sure you’re listed in the major listings of libraries. People do use them.
  • If you have a blog, make sure it’s listed and indexed. Try Feed Submitter.
  • USE WIKIPEDIA. Other people will write about you — why shouldn’t you help them? Why shouldn’t you highlight what you think is most important? (Interestingly, my initial objection, mentally, was that it’s not fair to ‘sell yourself’ through an encyclopedia-style resource. But it’s Wikipedia… so if you’re overzealous in selling yourself and being a cheerleader, people will cut you down to size right quick, now won’t they…)
  • Blogs and Forums: Use your local online community. Comment on them. Join discussions. Post about your services when they’re relevant (don’t be a spammer!). “Act as a person, a representative of the library, rather than the institution communicating with a person — be a person communicating with a person.” Be up-front about who you are, and be genuine.
  • Have a presence where it’s warranted. High schools, universities, other public institutions, municipal websites, any other local web places that are relevant to your community.
  • Social review websites: Yelp, citysearch, insiderpages, judy’s book, local2me. Know what people are saying about you.
  • Social networking sites: MySpace is in limbo (people are moving to Facebook) “You might have created a MySpace page two years ago, but you might be in the two year planning process to put a page in MySpace… and now it may be too late” fix that. If it’s popular now, respond NOW. And pay attention to what’s emerging. (see MySpace –> FaceBook)

Be proactive. Go find mentions of your library on YouTube, the web, blogs, etc. Join those communities.

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