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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Countdown to a new DPPL Web site

Did any of our sharp-eyed PlainTalk readers notice that our blog got a little bit of a makeover earlier this week? Just a subtle change from shades of green to shades of blue, but there's method behind my madness. In just a few days, the Des Plaines Public Library will be rolling out a brand new Web site for you. While celebrating our 100th anniversary last year, we made a commitment to also "Create the Future," and part of that future is a new, completely redesigned and enhanced Web site for you, the people who use it.

Why a new Web site? Our current Web site has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. In the beginning, when the site was small, it was easy to add a new page and then provide a link to it on a prominent place on the home page. But as page after page got added on, the home page was getting difficult to organize and the site difficult to navigate. So now we've got a clean slate on which to build, with a lovely and elegant new logo to let you know you've found the Des Plaines Public Library online.

We've also added lots of fun and useful new features - we hope the new Web site is a place that you will enjoy visiting and spending time, much like the library's building on Ellinwood Street. Wait until you see our new Children's section. With cute animation and graphics designed to make kids feel like they're in our youth department, even children too young to read will learn about the library while having fun with hippos, giraffes and leaping fish. You can see some of these darling cartoon characters at the top of this post. Teens will be getting an entirely redesigned section soon, too, and the designers are fast at work on a Web site with funky, hand-drawn graphics and less formal language, where we hope teens will feel welcome.

What else is new? A "Starting Places" section points specific types of library users in the right direction, with links for kids, teens, parents, adults, seniors and others. Our Event calendar listings have been made more specific, so you can go right to events for kids, teens or adults. Our Readers' Service section has been greatly expanded into "Read/Watch/Listen," because that department also covers movies and music. One really exciting new service will be "Positively Ellinwood Street," a blog written by our Readers' Service employees. They will tell you all about what new books and movies are coming, as well as sharing their recommendations and reviews with you, filling you in on our book discussion groups and more. Don't get hung up on what a "blog" is -- it's just a new, instant way of publishing information on the Web. I'm delighted that my colleagues in Readers' Services are about to become Internet "content creators" - not just surfing the 'Net, but, um, stocking it with new stuff, too!

Our blogs, videos and other news will have a special home on our new site, labelled "What's New." In an effort to let you get to know us better, we've also included more photographs on the site, and lots of "email us" links so you can communicate with us.

When can you expect to see the new Web site? Within the coming week. If all goes as scheduled, head to on Thursday, 5/29/2008, and you should find our new "virtual branch" waiting for you. We'll let you try it for a few weeks, then we'll want to hear your comments and feedback, so watch for an online survey, too. In the meantime, I'd better get back to work - putting together a new Web site isn't easy but it sure has been challenging and rewarding, and I hope you are proud of and happy with the results!

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