Almanac

Community - July 27, 2011

Library website goes 'social'

It allows users to review books, post on blogs

by Caitlin Moyles

The San Mateo County Library took a cue from social media in the renovation of its website (smcl.org) that now allows users to write reviews of books, music, and movies, and share their thoughts on three blogs — Collective Brain, a teens blog, and a kids blog.

The website recently received critical acclaim when it was named a 2011 Webby Award Official Honoree in the government website category. The Webby Award, which honors excellence on the Internet in a variety of categories, recognizes the website's sleek layout and navigability, as well as the library's efforts to promote interaction between members of the library's online community.

Three local libraries — those in Woodside, Portola Valley and Atherton — are part of the San Mateo County Library system.

"We wanted to bring in that social interaction element," said Greg Bodin, acting director of San Mateo County Library. "With social media being so up in the present, it's really a good way to share your ideas and what kinds of likes you have."

Redesigned in 2010, the website features portals for parents, teens, and kids. Users can opt to view the website in Chinese or Spanish.

In addition, users can add tags to books, music and movies to recommend similar content to their fellow community members.

In a nod to Twitter, the teen portal has a feature — called "Create a Shout-Out!" — that allows teens to post their thoughts and see them streamed across the top of the teens homepage.

The website aims to provide easy access to as many library services as possible, Mr. Bodin said. Visitors can use it to find the locations of items in the San Mateo County Library system, while the "Request this item" button allows users to have items delivered between any two libraries in San Mateo County.

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