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I’m going to be cheesy for a moment and say I think the public library featured in this post has got everything (or at least, its 2.0/broader social media strategies) going in the right direction!  Manchester (NH) city library, kudos to you.

I’m having difficulty figuring out where to start on this one:  I’ll start with where I found this one mentioned: Library Mashups, 2009, edited by Nicole Engard (there’s a link to the companion webpage in the left-hand column of this page), includes Chapter 6 by Lichen Rancourt who updated much of the Manchester City Library.  MCL actually has several sites, and I’ll start at the one I like best, their blogThey use WordPress (which does not affect the opinion of this WordPress-blogger), but it doesn’t really look like a classic WordPress page, for libraries who might not want to identify themselves as “just another WordPress blog”:  MCL has customized the display with a picture that looks like it’s from their library building, has tied in a Flickr photo badge that’s constantly changing and updating with the six most current photos posted on the library’s Flickr page (go here to look at their photostream page – what a wonderful way to show the real, welcoming, “human” side of the library!), has an RSS feed available for Upcoming Events, has links to their Facebook page, etc.  The blog practically serves as a homepage for the library itself, and I imagine many patrons may use it as such, because it also provides useful links to search the catalogue, login to renew books, pages with hours and directions (though when I checked, those two pages weren’t loading – are you working on that, Manchester?)

Then the blog also links to the library’s official homepage, which is hereIt still incorporates most of the Web 2.0, interactive parts of the blog, though a bit more “busy” and more formal-feeling than the blog, naturally, though they also incorporate images like the one at the top to show what makes this library unique.  The homepage incorporates current postings from the blog in the center, Flickr photo badge near the top, tweets in the photo at the very top (though the white text on the photo-background is hard to read; that could definitely be improved), current events in the right-hand column, and it adds book reviews (which it seems can be made by any user, and apparently the Book Reviews box automatically updates) in the left-hand column.

Regarding availability/findability, I didn’t explore if these sites are linked from elsewhere on the Manchester city page (though the main homepage definitely seems that way, and the two pages are very clearly linked to each other), but upon doing a basic Google search for “manchester nh library,” their two pages were the first two hits.  All of these items on both their pages are definitely an indication that MCL is working hard to create a strongly welcoming virtual presence, and I’d say they’re doing so rather successfully.  If I lived there, I would definitely check out their upcoming events and maybe even subscribe to the RSS.  It seems as well that MCL is constantly looking out for new things to add – in the lower-right-hand corner of the screenshot of the webpage (present on the blog too, though I closed it for that screenshot), one can see a little blue box saying “Trial of chat services – sorry, offline.”  Apparently I visited at the wrong time, but this clearly indicates that the library is trying to imbed its chat reference and thereby expand its Web 2.0 and interactive availability to patrons.

I love it!  Wonder if Manchester City Library would have any job openings in, say, a year and a half…?

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Building off of my previous post on Google Maps used within library websites, here are a few libraries that have used Google Maps to point at more than just local branches.

The Registry of Open Access Repositories has created this worldwide map with pushpins to indicate the locations of Open Access Repositories worldwide.  Open access is the latest buzzword among many academic and research institutions, and ROAR’s homepage has listings of some 1,543 archives (as of Nov. 30, 2009) that have OA Repositories.  Their map is at heart a vast visual improvement for patrons.  ROAR’s main page simply provides listings of all 1,543 archives in alphabetical order, and while visitors can easily narrow down their search by country or search for a name, the initial listing can be overwhelming.  The map is an easy way to get a visual picture of what’s located near me, for example, or how many OA repositories are registered here from Iceland (answer: one.  Now you know!)

On the availability note, though… I find the actual map in the Google search interface is more than a bit hard (impossible?) to find.  Again from their homepage, at the top one can see links to the Google Earth Overlay, which is nice assuming one has installed that program.  (It’s free.  Go here if you want it.)  Inside the Other Formats link, you can see the link to (among other things) the Google Maps mashup format.  But if I click on that link, I’m still not taken to the actual Google Maps interface.  I get this map view instead:
It nicely color-codes the pins, and one can click on a pin for more information, as I’ve done in the screenshot above.  But one loses the interactiveness of the Google Maps interface (I still can’t find any direct link from ROAR’s page — thanks to Susie for alerting me of this link!)

Speaking of worldwide maps, here’s a map that Linfield Library (at a college of that name in Oregon) made showing all the libraries to which they InterLibrary-Loaned items in 2006-2007 – naturally concentrated in the U.S., but as far away as Australia and Hong Kong.  Interesting.  I must say, though, I’m a tad underwhelmed with this creation, both its availability and its usefulness.  First, it’s not very logical to find.  If one were looking for this ILL map from Linfield’s homepage, I would logically look under the InterLibrary Loan link which is available from their homepage – but it’s not there.  Instead, one must click three times through the About Linfield Libraries page to find it.  (I suppose About is a logical place for it too — but couldn’t they have put the map both places?)

More importantly, however, is it even very useful to visitors to Linfield’s website?  If you’re looking for the contact info for the University of Hong Kong (or perhaps directions to it? – sorry, no public transit available from Vancouver to Hong Kong), there’s got to be a better way.  I can see its function simply for fulfilling curiosity, and it is most definitely a way of raising awareness of the scope of what may be a lesser-known library service, but I can’t see myself using it for any sort of research purpose.  When considering the time and effort it took to make this one, there are uses for Google Maps that are probably more immediately visible and useful to patrons.