So, I just listened to a free online webinar through OPAL — Online Marketing for Libraries, by Sarah Houghon-Jan, the Librarian in Black. (Here’s a link to the archive page this is listed on. I can’t figure out if there’s a way to link directly to the entry without just linking to the files, not that I tried very hard. Yes, the files are already posted. OPAL is fast.)
This was really cool. I’ve never heard Sarah speak before, and I thought it was a great presentation — and that’s saying a lot since I couldn’t see her, and we were stuck just looking at PowerPoints (though it was a good PP, as these things go!). The gist of it is that she covers a ton of ways, many free, that you can build your online presence aside from your library website. This includes things like blogging and social networking sites. But she also had a ton of great tips: making Wikipedia page for your library, or adding a link to your library from appropriate pages on Wikipedia (like a city or college entry, for example). Where do you come up in search engine results? Do all the various domains your users might type in to get to you point to your website? Are you listed in places like Google Maps and Library Thing Local? What about websites listing free WiFi hotspots? (Well, if your WiFi is free and not password-protected.)
She also talked about the imortance of making it a two-way conversation, though not necessarily in those words. We should be monitoring the web to see what, if anything, is being said about our library on local blogs and in the news. There are all kinds of tools you can use to set up alerts that will automatically let you know if someone mentions you. Then you can go out and see what they have to say.
I got a lot of great ideas that I hope to put together into a strategy to expand my library’s presence online — for example, we have an entry on Yelp that has very little info, and no picture. At the very least, I can flesh out the contact info and add some photos.
For my library, it’s not a worry about the staff time — half of my job is to do this kind of thing. We’re lucky in that respect — I can get going right away with what I think we should already be doing, and the easy fixes like this Yelp page. Then I can work on trying to figure out where else our patrons are hanging out online, and how I can get there as well, but in a way that’s respectful and not intrusive.
Anyway, you can check out Sarah’s slides and download the podcast at the link above.