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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Comments on our Web Site Survey - yes, I care

While scanning the results of the online survey about our Web site, I found one signed, "Like you care." Well, to be perfectly honest, I do care. That's why I took the time to write the survey and put it on our home page.

Our Web site is enormous and connects to all kinds of related services: the library catalog, blogs, online databases, wikis and hundreds of other Web sites. It's a lot of work to maintain it, keep it fresh, keep it useful. I know what I like in a Web site and my co-workers at the library aren't shy about telling me their preferences. However, what matters ultimately is if the Web site and those related services are useful, efficient and satisfying to you, our patrons. I thought a survey would be one of the best ways to determine that, while also inquiring about what you want to see in the future.

For example: one question related to using Web sites on your mobile phone. Do I care about that? I sure do, because I want to make sure we're keeping up-to-date with technology and the word on the streets is that "the mobile Internet era is at hand." The word on the streets is also that most Web sites are a disaster when accessed via a mobile phone. I use the Web on my phone constantly, far more than I do on my laptop - but I'm not designing services for me, I'm designing them for you.

Our current Web site,, averages about 79,000 views per month. The blogs get over 2,000 hits a month. I know, without even looking, that the most used part of our Web site is that mystery known as the library catalog, the place where you search for books, movies and other items, place holds, review your account, etc. I've written about the catalog before, but this bears repeating. We purchase the library catalog from an outside vendor. We share this Catalog with 24 area libraries and it is managed by a consortial computer group. We have only a small amount of control over what the Catalog looks like and how it performs. Believe me when I say: we are well aware of the Catalog's shortcomings as a search tool. That's why I'm asking you what you think about it. I'm part of that consortium's new task force to find a better search tool, if one exists. It's not good enough for me to meet with that task force and express my opinions on what a better catalog would look like - I need to represent you, too.

I'm grateful to all of you who took a few minutes to share your thoughts and complaints with me. To those who wrote in with concerns that were outside of my realm (noise on the 4th floor, wording of overdue notices), I forwarded your comments to the appropriate parties. To those who wrote that your searches often yield bad results, that you'd like a new system that links up with your current account information (WorldCat currently does not do that), that you'd like to be able to review books online or find more/better reviews and so forth - thank you. Those comments will come with me to my consortial meetings as tangible evidence of a point I've been trying to make: our patrons here in Des Plaines are smart, savvy, creative users and deserving of the best Internet services we can provide.

There's still time to take the survey. When the survey is complete, I will respond here to some of the questions and comments in greater detail - because I care. Thanks again.


  1. Here's a question: Why did the library logo change? The old one related to the building (and is ON the building), this... looks like a strong gust of wind blew the logo away for some reason. And left gradients in its wake.

  2. Good question: because the old logo was designed for print media, building signs, etc., and really never looked good on the Web. Funny color, fairly flat design. We also desperately needed to get away from the purple graphics that were associated with that "turquoise" logo, because purple on the Web screams, "We're stuck in 1995!" The new one is simply a spin on the old one, designed by the same fabulous graphic designer, Fred Huetter of Graphic Solutions. A cleaner design for a cleaner, lighter Web site.

  3. In response to the "like you care" writer, I have a personal experience to relate. When the website was first redesigned (a year and a half ago? two years ago?), my initial reaction to the home page was that it didn't have a readily visible link to "My Account." It was there, but one had to access a list--the same list that's still at the top right--to get to it. I wrote an email to the webmaster commenting on it. Within four or five days, there was a new, easily accessible link on the left sidebar for "My Account."

    Now that's what I call customer service! I cannot, of course, be sure it was my comment that inspired the change, but I was still very happy with it.

    This is just to illustrate that the library does care about its patrons' comments. Thanks Des Plaines Public Library and especially Karen McBride.


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