The Curry Public Library website provides information about library programs, services, and information resources in an intuitive way. We hope that users will be able to quickly find basic library information, but will also have opportunities to delve deep to discover rich online content to meet their needs. We have tried to make this site accessible to people with visual disabilities and non-English speakers, and in general we have tried to make the site visually interesting. We welcome your feedback.
The Design Process
Q & A with Web Designer Anneliese Dehner
Designing a New Website for Curry Public Library
For much of the COVID-19 pandemic, Curry Public Library staff quietly worked on a project to rethink and redesign the way library resources and services are presented online. The result of this work was a stunning new website that officially launched on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2021. The new site features great graphics and cell phone and tablet functionality, but more importantly it provides new ways to access the many resources provided by the library. While staff worked hard to create and edit content for the site, the design work was led by an extremely talented contractor, Anneliese Dehner. The functionality of the site can be attributed directly to Dehner’s specialized set of skills. As the library staff wrapped up work with Dehner, they were able to capture her thoughts on what makes this site special.
About Our Web Designer
Anneliese Dehner began her foray into the website field at the Watzek Library at Lewis & Clark College. She transitioned from working as a traditional library cataloger, to metadata applications, and then to metadata driven web applications. She began to learn web development and design in the context of a library environment where she created websites for faculty research interest and for experiential learning for classes. On the side, she took on freelance work building digital projects for knowledge sharing organizations outside of academia.
Through this side hustle, Anneliese discovered an unmet demand for technical support: organizations and individuals with digital collections and specialized technical needs who do not have the funding to employ full-time technical staff. Anneliese’s current work focuses on improving the design and usability of these digital collections.
Anneliese: “I discovered that there were many people out there who have digitized content they want to make available, but they don’t know how to get started. When they talk to traditional web developers, they feel a disconnect because mainstream developers don’t get the archival demands of this content. I work with groups such as historical societies, private collectors, and professors. People who have a mass of digitized manuscripts, letters, financial records, or other items and need a public-facing website to share these items with an online community. Only so many people can visit the building where the actual documents are housed. By making these collections available online, they’re opened up for use by researchers and educators all over the world.”
The Challenges to Website Design
When asked about the unique challenges of designing a website for a public library, Anneliese emphasized the uniqueness of libraries themselves as physical spaces, and the need for a library website to reflect that.
Anneliese: “A library as a physical space serves so many purposes. The library is not just books. It’s programs, services, and a gathering place. The library acts as a community hub. It is used by all different kinds of people. Because the library itself wears a lot of hats, the website needs to do that as well.”
Anneliese stressed that a library website does not only provide a space to search a catalog and check holds, it also needs to have space for programs, services, community information, and it needs to be easy to use by people of all different ages and backgrounds. Yet, all these different things need to be presented as though they belong together. The Curry Public Library site was designed with all these things in mind, and also includes design elements such as curves and scripted fonts to give it a friendly vibe.
Anneliese: “A library website needs to be universally usable in a way that some sites don’t need to be. It needs to be approachable by many types of people. This makes designing it a challenge.”
Features of the Curry Public Library Site
Working on the Curry Public Library website was both fun and challenging for Anneliese. We asked her about features she would like website users to know about.
One of the features Anneliese is most excited about is the ‘bookshelves’ that are featured throughout the site. These carousels show images of books, DVDs, and other library materials that patrons can check out from the library. The ‘bookshelves’ are organized by themes, such as new books, books in Spanish, books for teens, or staff picks. Website users can click on an image in the bookshelf, and it will link them directly to the catalog entry for that item, so they can read more about it, or place it on hold.
Anneliese: “There is also some pretty cool content in the learning tools section of the site. The learning tools are not just database links, but there are bookshelves, recommended books, eBooks, and movies on topic.” One example is the learning tools page on ‘Food’, where users can access databases, view and place cookbooks on hold from the library, and learn about local food resources including food banks, farms, and more.
The website has a little something for everyone including event categories for different age groups; this means people can focus on events that interest them without scrolling through all the library programs. The website has a lot for different age groups, such as a page for life after high school for teens, one with homeschool resources, and another with early literacy information.
A section of the website that Anneliese thinks might be helpful to people right now is the stream and download section. This section allows people to access eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, eNewspapers, and even provides support for using the library’s streaming tools.
Last but not least, a prime focus for Anneliese when designing the site, was to create a site that works equally well on a phone and tablet as it does on a computer.
Launching the Site
Along with the support of Dehner, Curry Public Library officially launched the website on January 18th, 2021. A few days after launching Library Board Chair, Sandy Grummon, declared that the new site was the best library website in the United States. Library Director, Jeremy Skinner, was more measured, saying, “I feel for the first time that we have a website that matches our aspirations as a library, and I really look forward to seeing how the site is used and if it expands access to information and library services.”
We invite you to visit our website, explore all the new features and functionality, and tell us what you think.