The 30+ year history of the Westbank Community Library District in Austin, Texas, has seen many changes. Initially, the library was a non-profit with no regular source of income, relying on donations and volunteerism, and housed in the location of a former bank. Today, Westbank is a multi-branch district with nearly 400,000 visitors per year and circulation of over 750,000 annually. The most recent addition, the Laura Bush Community Library, was completed in 2009, with the former First Lady -- and former Austin librarian -- present for the dedication ceremony.
As the needs of the district members had grown, so had the need for a more robust, and flexible, Internet presence. Westbank wanted to develop a new digital "front door" to welcome visitors who embrace emerging technologies, while still providing easily found and navigable information for those who are far less comfortable. The district also needed tools that would allow their staff and trained library professionals to share information with the community in an effective and easy manner. After a detailed search to find the right organization to meet their needs, the Westbank District selected the Shimshock Group as their consulting partner.
Over the course of the implementation project, the Shimshock Group worked closely with the district's staff to identify a site design, visual appearance, and informational structure that would appeal to the wide variety of Westbank visitors -- from K-12 students to leisure readers and information seekers. The result was a new site focused on three major components of information: an online Apollo catalog for searches and reservations, e-book and audiobook access through OverDrive, and district activity listings through an online calendar and event system. Shimshock Group leveraged techniques and concepts used in the development of other online communities to provide a new content and research hub for Westbank District members. Doing so highlighted programs and resources that many members of the community were often not aware were available.
The implementation also provided new opportunities to discover, connect, share, and explore among Westbank members. The use of Google Analytics to track impressions, traffic, and campaign success, Facebook to begin outreach with community members, and SEO techniques will ensure the Westbank Library District website will be able to expand and grow far beyond what was previously capable.
Thank you for the excellent work performed by the Shimshock Group team! They transformed our existing web site into a dynamic content management platform, and have given us new ways to easily and quickly communicate with library members. We are also very appreciative of their mobile development experience and accessibility knowledge, which has been important to ensure we meet the needs of all of our visitors. The team was helpful, professional, thorough, and a delight to work with! We highly recommend the Shimshock Group.
-- Mary Jo Finch, Library Director, Westbank Community Library District