By Curt Yeomans
After a year of work on improving its online presence, the Clayton County Library System is ready to launch a new, re-vamped web site for the county's libraries, according to library system officials.
For the last year, library system officials have surveyed library patrons about what they want from a web site, worked on a design and converted information from the system's existing web site, said Terran McCanna, the library system's virtual services librarian, and webmaster.
She explained that while the library system has a lot of information on its existing web site, it is an aging site, and re-organization of information did not take place as new information was added.
"The previous web site had been around for a while, and things just kept getting added to it, and it was kind of getting unwieldy and difficult to maintain," McCanna said. "So, we wanted to re-organize everything, and make it easier for people to use, and we wanted to update the look of the web site at the same time."
McCanna said she and other library officials put in a request on Monday to have the Georgia Public Library Service, which controls the web space used for the Clayton library system's web space, to switch the system's online uniform resource locator (URL) from its old web site, to its new web site. She was hopeful the switch could take place as early as Monday night, or today.
"There may be a few broken links [on the new web site] at first, so we're going to go through [after it launches] and check everything," the library system's web master said. "Hopefully, by [Tuesday] it should be up and fully operational."
A "sneak peak" of the new web site was available on Monday, through a link on the library system's old web site, allowing patrons a chance to see what they can expect.
"It's going to be good," said Clayton County Library System Director Carol Stewart, earlier this month. It is "a much needed improvement over what we have now."
Much of the library system's information has been moved to the front of the new web site. One such move is a section where patrons can scroll through a list of library branches and find the address, phone number and hours of operation for each location, without having to go to a separate page for each branch.
Other pieces of information moved to the front page include a list of upcoming events, which McCanna said the web site automatically pulls from the library system's online calendar of events. The "Library News" section has been condensed into a series of rotating news blurbs and links, in the middle of the web site's home page.
The "My Account" feature, which allows patrons to keep up to date with their library system accounts, has also been moved to the home page of the new web site, according to McCanna.
"Previously, patrons used to have to go into the PINES Catalog to check their account, which a lot of people had trouble remembering," she said. "This makes it a lot easier for them to access their accounts, so they know when their books are due back, and what fines they have, if any."
Some of the new features on the web site, include a space that displays books recommended by library system staff members. The new web site's home page also includes "What To Read Next" and "Suggest A Book" links, which allow patrons to suggest books to other patrons, or to library staff, for future additions to the system's book collection.
Links to the library system's Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and RSS feed pages have also been added.
McCanna said the library system also added a "New User" page, which provides a user's guide to the library system, for people who are using it for the first time. The "New User" page can be accessed through a link near the top of the main page. "What we did was consolidate all of this information that had previously been spread out in different places around our web site," she said.
Although the new web site is going online this week, McCanna said library system patrons are still being encouraged to send in their comments about the web site, as well as suggestions for improvement, through a link in the rotating "Library News" section.
"Every web site is a work in progress, so we'll gladly accept any comments, or suggestions, that people have," she said.