NEW YORK, NY.-
The New York Public Library has launched its new Drupal-based website, at http://www.nypl.org
. The dramatically redesigned site, created by the Librarys in-house digital team, embodies the Librarys forwardthinking vision and commitment to the growing needs of its patrons. Based on extensive research with librarians and Library users, it offers:
rich content provided by staff from across the Library system
direct access to reference librarians from almost every page
streamlined searching and more intuitive navigation
interactive exhibitions using multimedia and technology like Google mapping software
The sites homepage welcomes visitors with bold new colors, a clean uncluttered design, and moving images with featured content centered on the Librarys mission to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities. A short video on the site's new features can be viewed here
With changing information needs, the introduction of many new library services, and the availability of new web technology, it was time for a comprehensive restructuring of the online window to our services, said Library President Paul LeClerc. The new www.nypl.org is easier to use, reflects a diverse range of staff voices, and provides increased flexibility for future growth. It will greatly improve the experience of Library users as we move ahead into new realms of digital service. I am immensely proud of it.
Annually, millions of users visit www.nypl.org to reserve books, search for classes, check library hours, order prints of digital images, sign up for classes, get homework help, read blogs and take advantage of the myriad of other features the website offers. The development of the new site began in 2008. Numerous prototypes were created and shared with staff and users who participated in a variety of in-person and online studies producing more than 100,000 responses.
Improved Navigation and Searching
Analysis showed that 25% of all searches of nypl.org are for basic information about the Library, so a new Using the Library section was created as one of eight core navigation items at the top of each page. Deep footers and sidebars on every page also provide shortcuts to multimedia content, job information resources, exhibitions, and other popular content. Librarian-created content also increases instances of broad Internet searches leading back to reliable Library-vetted information. A link to Ask NYPL, where users can reach librarians directly, is for the first time accessible on almost every page. Searching within the site is one of the most crucial activities, so those functions were significantly improved. Previously a search for information on Edgar Allan Poe, for example, would produce results in different categories and require the user to choose which category seemed most likely to have the relevant results. In the new site all relevant information relating to Poe appears in one set of search results, with filtering options for further refinement. Additionally users may easily toggle back and forth between searches of the Librarys catalog and other content.
Staff Voices and Serendipity
Librarians have been charged with generating content such as blog posts and photo uploads and with tagging relevant information from throughout the website that will help visitors access the depth of services available, recreating the serendipitous nature of research that happens at the physical libraries. The pages for each of the 89 libraries in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island will now be created and managed by staff in the local libraries, allowing each page to continue to provide the basic information and also showcase the unique qualities of the library and the neighborhood it serves. For example the 96th Street Branch page highlights a podcast series, Turn it Up at 96th Street, created and hosted by its teen users.
New Types of Content
The website will feature new types of digital content, inspired by the Librarys collections and other resources. The first of these projects, a new one-of-a-kind digital exhibition, Picturesque Journeys-On the Road with Candide (http://candide.nypl.org), features a pick-and-choose visual storytelling plus a Candide Journey project created in Google Maps by 10th-grade students and many other features.
New Underlying Technology
A major aspect of the new site is the use of Drupal, an open source software platform. Drupal eliminates the dependency on commercial software vendors that provide rigid frameworks with little room for customization. Switching to an open source platform allows the digital team to write code for the Librarys specific needs as well as share and benefit from innovations across the Drupal community. Until now the Librarys web site has gone through a cycle of major re-designs, said Dr. LeClerc. This launch lays the groundwork for a philosophy of ongoing evolution and expansion of nypl.org with new features and improvements being made continually. We look forward to feedback from our users and exciting new developments to come.