BiblioCommons Launches Integrated Catalog and Website Management Platform in Partnership with Chicago Public Library

BiblioCommons Inc. announces a new integrated catalog and website management platform built in partnership with Chicago Public Library. Funded with an investment from the Chicago Public Library Foundation, the new Chicago Public Library website launched officially on April 9, and provides library patrons with an integrated and engaging user experience as they browse their library’s collections, services, locations, and events.

The new website management platform, BiblioCMS, is built to address a key issue for public libraries: while libraries offer an impressive array of programs, services and collections, the overwhelming majority of library patrons are largely unaware of what is available. This challenge was highlighted by the Pew Research Center in its March 2014 report, “From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers: A typology of public library engagement in America.” Only 23% of those who have used public libraries reported knowing “all or most” of programs offered by libraries.

The primary goals of the new Chicago Public Library website are to help Chicagoans discover the vast resources that their library offers and to connect community members and librarians to share ideas and recommendations. By promoting a browsing experience over a keyword-based transaction, the intent is to encourage curiosity and position the library’s website as a destination of serendipitous discovery.

“Chicago Public Library has been at the forefront of library technology and best practices in library experiences,” says Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. “Our new website is more inline with where the rest of the web is going—not just in terms of design, but also taking advantage of the software as a service model which enables the Library to stay relevant in today’s digital world—and tomorrow’s world as well.”

“We’re delighted that we could work with such an innovative, dynamic library to re-imagine what a public library website could be,” said Beth Jefferson, co-founder of BiblioCommons, “from the outset, the team has been committed to evidence-based design, extensive and ongoing testing, and re-thinking the possibilities for libraries to connect and engage their communities.”

One of the central features of the new website management system is a card-based architecture which is not only responsive and adjusts to phone, tablet, and computer screens of any size, but is ultimately extremely flexible in terms of format and design.  The architecture is very efficient in terms of maximizing staff time spent developing featured content by repurposing that content into different styles and pathways patrons might explore.

In his guest post on the new site, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wrote, “I am proud of everyone at the Chicago Public Library for creating such a cutting-edge new website for Chicagoans. This new digital library enhances community interaction, engages residents across the city and extends the City and Library’s reach through the most modern technology.” He heralded the new Chicago Public Library online experience as “a model public/private partnership.”

BiblioCMS is available via Software as a Service to all interested public libraries.

To see the new Chicago Public Library site please go to www.chipublib.org.