Blogging New Libraries @ Surrey

26 11 2011

Canada

Photo above taken by commonwealthlibraries.

Welcome to Canada, my home and native land, and our first examination of a library within the Commonwealth of Nations.  Commonwealth Secretariat (2011) states that Canada was incorporated into the Commonwealth of Nations in 1931 and continues to hold close ties to the United Kingdom.  The Surrey Public Library, located in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, serves a large and culturally diverse population on the west coast of Canada.

Surrey Public Library Home page:

Lets start with an examination of the Surrey Public Library home page.  The site greets its visitors with a pop of bright colour, clean and crisp white background, easy to read font, and large images.

Did I mention images?  The site abounds with many, many images.  People using the library’s resources, smiling, and reading grace this library’s online homepage.  While I do find it engaging and attractive, I also worry that users may become lost in pictures.  Constantly revolving images seem to move much too quickly for individuals who are not used to reading fast.  I have a feeling older individuals or those who are not used to surfing the Internet would become overwhelmed by the media onslaught.  As Vincent Flanders argues in Biggest Mistakes in Web Design 1995-2015 on his blog, Web Pages that Suck, sometimes simple imagery and design is the most attractive.

However, Surrey Public Library does a wonderful job in providing clear navigation for its users.  The library’s site contains a wealth of information neatly organized under six drop-down tabs (‘Reading,’ ‘Research,’ ‘Programs and Services,’ ‘About Us,’ ‘How Do I…’ and ‘Locations/Hours’).  It provides instructions on how to use the site and library services, programs, and resources.  Surrey Public Library also provides its users with tools for language translation – an excellent resource for the culturally and linguistically diverse population of Surrey.  And, most handy for researchers like myself, the catalogue is clearly labeled at the top of the homepage.

So, where is the social media?  Scroll down to the bottom of Surrey Public Library’s home page and you’ll find five small links to their social media tools.  Links for Surrey Public Library’s social media are located in the site’s footer (click here to see it for yourself).  Surrey Public Library has two blogs, a Facebook account, Twitter, and a YouTube channel.  All of these social media applications are located together in the home page’s footer, making it sound easy to find.  However, the image links for these applications are small and, unless the viewer scrolls down to the very bottom of the page, invisible.

 

What’s the Blogging World like @ Surrey?

Lets take a closer look at The Surrey City Centre Library Blog.

The Surrey City Centre Library Blog was created in order to provide Surrey residents information on the construction of a new public library which opened in September 2011 (as described on their ‘vision’ page).  The blog is frequently updated despite the fact that the library opened a few months ago.  Now, the blog exists in order to provide users with updates on programming, information about the library, and a stream of the library’s photos.

New users of social media and visitors to The Surrey City Centre Library Blog will find navigation and use of the tool quite simple.  The blog contains a simple layout and navigational tabs which are clearly labeled for users.  It would be hard to become lost on this blog.

 

Useful or Wasteful?

My current university happens to be located within a reasonable distance to Surrey Public Library, and now that I know this tools exists (only after research *cough*), I am much more prone to use it.  The Surrey City Centre Library Blog would be useful for individuals who are actively engaged with the library and its surrounding community.  I would want to visit this blog if I desired information on events the library was hosting or learn about the library’s recent construction process.

The Surrey City Centre Library Blog stresses the importance of community involvement in the library.  In August 2011,  J. Geddes wrote Who cares about libraries?, an article located at Macleans.ca, which argued that Canadian libraries continue to grow and engage with their users despite public fears of public library closures.  The Surrey City Centre Library Blog supports this argument – not only are libraries engaging their users online, but they are still being constructed despite the fears of closure.

While The Surrey City Centre Library Blog continues to be useful today, I think its history is its most interesting aspect.  The notion of calling on library users to contribute ideas for their new library’s services, resources, and amenities before its construction is unique.  I love the idea that this blog was created during the new library’s planning phase and years before the library was opened in order to gain insights into the library’s future user community.

After a semester at library school, I am fully aware of the need to meet the information needs of users and create an appealing library environment for all individuals.  While blogs are an excellent means to gain insight into a user community, it also narrows the opinions you hear to only those individuals who may use the Internet or participate in the blogosphere.

The Surrey City Centre Library Blog could be improved through increased marketing – this blog and its potential to unite individuals within a community is strong, but it lacks a voice outside of the Surrey Public Library system.  Perhaps the Surrey Public Library could move their social media links away from their currently hidden spot in the homepage’s footer in order to increase access.

The Surrey City Centre Library Blog also makes me wonder why there are no other Surrey library blogs.  The Surrey Public Library system is large and contains many branches.  Why not blogs for all?

 

An Overview of Social Media @ Surrey Public Library:

The Surrey Public Library system also employs Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a book review blog to connect with users.

The library’s Facebook and Twitter accounts provide information which is similar to The Surrey City Centre Library Blog.  All of these social media devices inform the public of events and programs hosted by the library system.  The library’s YouTube channel provides instructions on how to use online library accounts, provides users a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of the new library, and records First Nation events at the library.  The SPL Book Blog provides short reviews of novels and nonfiction books by library staff.

The Surrey City Centre Library Blog provides an unique view on the Surrey Public Library system.  YouTube instructs users, Facebook and Twitter promote events, and the SPL Book Blog acts as a readers advisory service.  However, The Surrey City Centre Library Blog combines both promotion, a historical view on the library, and pertinent information on the branch.

Care to see the brand new library?  Here’s a YouTube video of the site during construction:
Click here to see the video on YouTube (surreylibrary, 2011).

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