CIL 2007 – Library 2.0 Builidng Communites, Connections & Strategies – Ken Roberts CEO Hamilton Public Library

Hamilton Library has many community partners. Won a Sirsi-Dynix award for their community development. A portal was created to represent all the organisations and agencies in the city of Hamilton. The same tabs on the library web page are the same on the Council webpage and other community institutions in the portal, as a result their website visit increased as has the visits to all other agencies.

They are “Google for Hamilton”. Search results are focused on Hamilton. The portal is complete integration with municipal services. Other features include a robust CMS, a unified events database, web casting, collaboration spaces, online transactions, rss feeds, single sign on, metadata everywhere and W3C compliant. Hamilton Library trains 200 authors to upload and manage content on the portal.

They didn’t do any risk management on the events calendar and thereby underestimated its use, so it crashed within a week of going live. The single sign on means that you are logged all at once to all the various organisations on the portal that need user verification.

Although the software is W3C compliant, not all docs loaded were, so much training was done to educate all contributors on this.

Online registration of their users needs verification, so they get their card within an hour of applying – subject to those verification processes. 70-80 users per week register who never come into the library and Hamilton does not want to force them to. The online registration allows them to use their virtual resources without having to ever visit a library.

Collaboration space in the software is being used for 70 online book clubs that Hamilton Library runs. It was originally intended for community groups but is being well utilised by the library.

Working with community partners on this portal has created last partnerships which benefits the library in so many different ways.

A partnership at its best when

  • your reputation as a partner will precede you
  • there are different organisational cultures involved, managing their own decision making processes within their groups, then at the partnership level
  • there is a commitment to common vision and goals
  • the sustainability model will evolve over the course of the project – it will not be the same as when it started, with underestimates in inputs and outflows and changes in who makeups the partnership
  • the project is properly resourced or can be scaled back so no one organisation has too much demand placed on it

Ongoing challenges

  • organisational structure and power partners – who has the power, why and how that power structure is managed
  • inclusiveness and balance of perspectives
  • changing environment and priorities for each partner
  • sustaining what we have
  • implementing new stuff

What you need to succeed

  • build trust and respect as a partner (build reputation)
  • have shared values – sometimes need to be a compromise and can you support it
  • engage the right people
  • start small, think big – some aspects of the software have still not being started as they still are getting their partners established on the portal
  • integration with your core business – becomes part of core tasks of library staff
  • test, test and test some more (usability and technology) – make sure the right testing is also being done
  • celebrate success and excuse mistakes

Discovered that people were using the library more, as well as finding what they want more quickly and spending more time there.

Virtual Library – has branch manager, includes all services where it doesn’t require someone walking through the door, includes telephone services.

In future – Second Life project with McMaster Uni and others (have an island they are developing), WiFi initiative, IM Reference, Learning 2.0 and more.
www.hpl.co – library website, www.myhamilton.ca – portal address