saving time with social web tools

Things at the North Plains Public Library have been busy and interesting. Besides daily troubleshooting tasks, budget planning (finally done, yay!) and making some small changes around the building, I’ve been working on ensuring the library meets the requirements for full membership into the Washington County Cooperative Library Services (WCCLS). I’ve considered all of this stuff essential foundation building activities and haven’t made time for non-100% essential tasks. There just hasn’t been the time.

This time crunch highlights the value of using a weblog as a Content Management System for a small library website. The North Plains Public Library Website is a (not extremely customized) WordPress install and it does just what it needs to do. There are a few other tricksy things going on in the site too. The library tour is powered by PictoBrowser and Flickr. The Best Sellers page is the NYT Books feed rendered as HTML.

More than the time saving web gizmos that make the site, I really enjoy the NPPL Staff page and am hoping to get some photos up there at some point. Staff were not reluctant in the least to share a bit about themselves and it makes for a richer website.

One thing that was great about the process of developing this small website is that it was not a case of thinking of a neat new way to make a library website. WordPress was just the tool that made the most sense (though of course it isn’t ideal). Another web technology found its way into the library’s work flow for the same reason. Using a Google Spreadsheet to organize the collaboration of multiple employees that are infrequently in the same room works so well. No longer do multiple staff members need to keep track of multiple documents that get revised monthly. It is all centralized for us to access at will. Ideally everyone would have their own google account, but for now staff are sharing the library’s main login. Simple.

I hope this mini case study of a time strapped library helps expose the “I don’t have time for social software” excuse to be just that: an excuse for not wanting to expand and learn.

4 thoughts on “saving time with social web tools”

  1. Nice–but where’s the catalog? Or does the library not have a web-accessible catalog yet? I ask partly out of curiosity and partly because I’m trying to do something similar for my library’s website, but I haven’t decided yet how best to include the catalog in it. (I’m thinking a basic search in the sidebar and a page with more information and direct links to databases, but I’m not sure exactly how it would work).

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