New Face for the BPL

The Boston Public Library recently unveiled a new design for their website, as well as a series of print, television and radio ads promoting the library. I took a look at the ads, and I have to say that I like them — especially the print ads, which are cheeky and informal. All of them (well, except perhaps the radio voice over) feature actual BPL librarians. In the TV ads, they’re talking about what they know, how they compare to search engines, and how they do their work — but in a friendly, not-boring-you-to-death kind of way. For example, in one of them the librarian is rattling off some random facts that he knows, and then he says “I know how to clear a room — take me to trivia night.” The TV ads also have a series of line drawings that illustrate what the librarian is saying, which gives them some interest (otherwise, you’d just be watching a talking head). I had seen one of them in July, when I got a super-secret back-room tour of a couple of BPL offices, but I had completely forgotten to try and keep an eye out for the launch of the new site & ads. (Good thing someone sent me the link!)

As for the website, it’s been long enough since I was regularly using the BPL’s website that I can’t really make a good comparison to the previous incarnation. What I can say is that I like the design, and it seems like it is pretty easy to navigate and get to what you’re looking for. The redesign includes a search box in the banner that defaults to searching the library catalog, which I think is a handy feature. Also in the banner is a drop down menu with “How do I find” as the default value — that gives folks an easy way to find some of the most frequently-viewed pages, no matter where they are on the site. (And without cluttering up the navigation in the banner!) Continue reading

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Update on BPL's Flickr project

My friend Michael at BPL emailed this morning with an update on the BPL’s Flickr project. They’ve loaded a bunch more collections (including some awesome old New England postcards), and enabled tagging & commenting.

Jessamyn beat me to the punch* and posted the whole rundown (Michael emailed the two of us because we both posted it — Jessamyn originally picked it up from me, which is weird but cool) so I’ll just link to her post.

I just think this whole project is so cool, and I’m psyched that I know the librarian responsible! The images are just fantastic and it’s so exciting that the number of people who will see them is just going to explode because they’re up online in such an easily accessible way.

I’m already scheming about what sort of project I can make with the images of these postcards. I think it’d be cool to frame a little series of them or something. Go here to check them out.

* I was on the reference desk when I got Michael’s email, and just afterwards got three simultaneous questions through our virtual chat reference system. Three! At once! That kept me busy for a while.

Boston Public Library on Flickr

I have a friend who works at the Boston Public Library, and he recently emailed several of us to let us know that a project he’d been working on has come to fruition. In his own words:

I’ve been working on a Flickr API application that will take a bunch of the items in the Boston Public Library Digital Collections (not yet online) and push them, with full metadata, to Flickr.

This is pretty cool, if you ask me. The collections that he’s gotten online so far include a bunch of cool WWII propaganda posters, some old posters from Boston Brewery, and a cool collection of early Boston baseball photos.

I know there are still some skeptics who don’t see the use in putting this kind of stuff on Flickr — why not put it in your own digital library, or just up on your website? — but I think it’s really neat. It gets these things out into a pre-existing community, and makes it super easy to link to them, blog them, and the like. In this case, the metadata is included, which means you can see all of the important information, like the accession numbers, description, subject headings, etc. Currently they haven’t enabled tagging & commenting, but once they do it’ll be really neat to see what other information the community can add to this.

For those who may have missed it, the Library of Congress is doing something similar.