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December 25. 2013 10:18PM

Library patrons say website is out-of-date

BEDFORD — "Get with the century" and "It's too wordy" are some of the complaints Assistant Director Miriam Johnson has heard from patrons about the Bedford Library's website.

The current website, www.bedford.lib.nh.us, has been in use since about 1999, and staff members are working to create a more up-to-date format.

"Our home page is very low tech," said Johnson. "If you look at the town's website, it looks like it's in this century."

The library recently put out a request for proposals seeking a web designer to create a content management system using Drupal. The plan is to give the site a more professional look and improved navigation so it's more user-friendly, and to provide easier access for staffers to publish content.

"Some people don't visit the library. They use our website's downloading capabilities instead," said MaryAnn Senatro, library director. "We're looking for someone to design a new website for us so we have the framework, and we can set it up so people in the library can add their information and events themselves. The Amherst Library just went through it and they were pleased, so we've been encouraged by them."

Johnson has been maintaining the site and uploading library information, and she is asking the new designer to teach about three or four staff members how to use the system. The website, Johnson said, is neither staff- nor user-friendly.

"Our services aren't going to change but we want to highlight them so people are aware, and it'll give us better highlight seasonal things. We've been talking about it for a long time, but the learning curve is pretty steep," Johnson said.

The new website will also contain a blog so if someone reads a good adult or children's book, they can share the news.

"It will also have a mobile version. On a mobile device the type is tiny but with responsive web design, it presents things in a more simplistic manner so you can navigate on a small screen," said Johnson.

The library, which has been serving the town since 1893, has about 10,000 cardholders, and offers an extensive library catalog of more than 80,000 printed books, downloadable audiobooks and eBooks, music, DVDs, magazines and newspapers, and electronic subscription databases. Adult, youth and children's programs are offered throughout the year and are posted on the website and at the library.

The current website uses an html system through Dreamworks, which limits space and requires that each page be maintained individually. With the new Drupal system, items can be uploaded once and be visible on multiple pages, Johnson said. This year, the site has attracted about 150,000 hits, a decrease over past years.

"Some years it's 300,000, so it varies. We're hoping to get a better analysis on that and what people are going to the site to find so we can be more responsive," Johnson said.

Interested web designers must submit proposals by 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 30 to Miriam Johnson, Bedford Public Library, 3 Meetinghouse Road, Bedford, NH 03110. The contract will be awarded Jan. 24, with a public website launch scheduled for Monday, June 2. To view the request for proposals and a complete scope of the project and requirements, visit the library's website at www.bedford.lib.nh.us.

sclark@newstote.com


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