Post Number Two: One I Like

My first post was devoted to an examination of my own public library`s website within the context of the library 2.0 model. This time I am pointing out a public library website that I think is particularly successful in concept and design. This is the Skokie Public Library website:

When I look at the home page for this site, three things strike me at once: the clean, uncluttered, inviting look of the overall design; the way the central imagery (the astronaut figure) draws the viewer in to the message about their summer reading program; the way site allows the visitor multiple avenues for searching within a simple frame.

To begin with the design elements, the colored tabs at the top take the visitor to the more popular or obvious categories of library service for advice about what`s new at the library. The sidebar (to the left) provides a nicely organized menu of tabs-within-tabs that allow a more in depth presentation of services.

The central panel (with the astronaut) obviously serves as a kind of changable billboard to promote library programs. Many public library sites don`t have any such changable element in their designs. If you want to connect with the 2.0 generation, I suspect that this site, both tab-organized and malleable, would be one to emulate.

As to the ways in which this site allows a more user-friendly search than most, I would draw the visitor`s attention to the bottom of the home page. There you will see an “automatic site translations” device: a box with five languages represented (Chinese, Greek, Korean, Russian and Spanish). Any visitor to the site may click on any of these language signs and the content of the entire site is then rendered into that language.

Next to the translations device is a little sign that says “visit SkokieNet.” Clicking on that brings up a website,

that is an information network devoted to providing the latest municipal and regional information for the Skokie patron. Partly sponsored and organized by the Skokie Public Library, SkokieNet draws participating organizations from commercial, non-profit, and governmental spheres into a single information site. This site is twelve years old, which suggests to me that Skokie was ahead of the curve in the Ninties. There are still many communities who don`t have a site like this now.

True, this site does not suggest that RSS feeds and DVD downloads from the homepage are around the corner. From a library 2.0 point of view, the Skokie PL site still needs some work. Yet I can`t help feeling that this is a site that reaches out to its patron base in a stylishly effective way, and succeeds in drawing its patrons in to use their library. That is really what it should be all about.

2 Responses to “Post Number Two: One I Like”

  1. Frances Roehm Says:

    Thank you for your kind remarks re our web stuff. Indeed, our director, Carolyn Anthony, got the idea of the internet as a major resource the same year that Yahoo and Amazon were born. Last year our most recent web went live. is all about the conversation. Librarians post, kids share stories and pictures, senior citizens share their memories. And all can be commented on. It’s moderated by our librarians and community partners. If you haven’t had a chance to look at it, I’d encourage you to take a moment and Join the Conversation! Good luck with your blog. And thanks again for your kindness. Fran

  2. Ellen Kaiser Says:

    Funny, three years ago when I started this program, I also found the Skokie website stellar. At the time I emailed the webmaster to commend their innovative use of the website. I was told that all the reference librarians had assigned areas to find appropriate links and to ensure that the links were active. I think it’s great that everyone is allowed to have a part in making something great.

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