Three Hours is Really Not a lot of Time

Yesterday, I drove down to Springfield with friends Toby Greenwalt and Leah White to give a three-hour presentation to Illinois library directors participating in SPLMI (Small Public Library Management Institute). We were asked to speak about technology in libraries, so we created the slide deck to end all slide decks. The presentation was jam-packed with tips and insights about eBooks and other downloadable media, gadgets, digital media labs, makerspaces, social media, web solutions, digital literacy, and building a tech-friendly organization. Predictably, we ran out of time and didn’t get through the last quarter of our presentation!

When time ran out on us, we thought a good way to finish out the presentation and continue the conversation would be to blog about our remaining sections, so here are a few thoughts about web solutions. If you’re following along with the slides, start with slide #137. Yes, that’s right, we went triple digits on this thing.

  • According to a Pew Internet study conducted in December 2012, about 2/3 of adults in the U.S. have home broadband.
  • According to a Pew Internet report published in June 2013, 56% of all American adults now own a smartphone.
  • Key question: How is your library responding to the rise of mobile internet use?
  • Examples of mobile solutions include Arlington Heights Memorial Library, Barrington Area Library, and Skokie Public Library. Features include searching the catalog and placing holds, viewing due dates and renewing materials, finding programs, contacting the library, and checking out materials using your phone’s camera as a scanner.
  • Responsive web design is about building one website that works well with any screen size, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Learn more by viewing What the Heck is Responsive Web Design by John Polacek. Check out Canton Public Library on both a desktop browser and a mobile browser to see a good example of how a responsive web design works. By the way, this blog also uses a responsive web design!
  • Many of you might be thinking, “There’s no way my library can create a site like that!” One option for you is to consider using to build a simple, elegant website and using one of their many responsive themes. If you want more flexibility and control over your website, consider building a self-hosted website. Read more about the differences between and Another CMS (Content Management System) option is Drupal.

  • Prefab and One-Pager are other options to consider if you need some help getting started.
  • Building a website is one thing, but making sure it actually works well for your users is something that needs to be an ongoing endeavor. Interviews, surveys, and card sorts are just a few user research methods you might want to consider.
  • Usability tests are very helpful and something that will provide some insights on how you can improve your website to make it easier to use. Steve Krug’s book, Rocket Surgery Made Easy, explains how to conduct usability tests in a fun, easy-to-understand way.
  • Look into Optimal Workshop to learn more about some user research you can conduct online.
  • Finally, if you already have a website but are looking for a way to bring your community together online, check out LocalWiki. Check out the Champaign-Urbana wiki!

Make sure you check out Toby’s section on Digital Literacy and Leah’s section on building a tech-friendly organization. Hope these notes are helpful to all of you who attended SPLMI. Don’t forget to get in touch with Toby, Leah, or me if you want to continue the conversation!


  1. Oh, great links! I’m sure that was a great program. I need to spend some more time with my personal websites and exploring some of the other responsive themes available.


  2. thanks ryann, hope this is helpful! btw, check out slide #152 🙂


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