OverDrive recently held its annual Digipalooza conference where they polled close to 60,000 librarians on book discovery. The majority of readers, it seems, tend not to visit their local branch as much and instead are visiting the online website. However, many librarians in the US and Canada are finding the websites are woefully out of date. Making it more current is key to being more accessible and building a strong gateway to loaning out digital eBooks.
OverDrive is chiefly responsible for being the number one provider of eBooks via their online distribution platform. Libraries that do business with them often have their website automatically populated with the audiobooks, videos, and eBooks they have licensed for their collections. This data is sent automatically and the libraries’ websites are updated whenever new titles are added or titles are loaned out. This type of data is fairly current, but there are quite a number of elements that foster book obscurity.
Library blogs tend to be one of the things that go neglected and remain consistently out of date. The blogs are normally established by the younger staff and interns who are hoping to make their mark and stay current. When young librarians are starting their careers, they often float around to different branches, depending on their placements or series of starter jobs. Once they leave the library, the blogs often have no one effectively managing them. It is quite important that if a library decides to make a blog, it must either keep it current or kill it.
Sometimes libraries curate their own special reading lists or editor’s picks. This type of data is not automatic and must be manually adjusted. These lists often go neglected in the long-term as day to day library function gets in the way.
There is no denying that older patrons can’t visit the library like they used to and rely on borrowing books digitally to satiate their literary thirst. Younger users tend to read via their smartphones, tablets, and e-Readers, and are more digitally savvy. Libraries need to focus on these demographics and make sure their websites are current on both a day-to-day and weekly basis. They should not bother with blogs or editor’s picks lists unless it can be mandated to be a part of a specific job description. The worst thing libraries can do is appear out of date and out of touch with their audience.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.