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Member Spotlight: Charlotte (VT) Library Funded Project

Posted by on February 19th, 2024 Posted in: Funded Project, Member Spotlight
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Thank you to Library Directory Margaret Woodruff and Tech Librarian Susanna Kahn for today’s guest post from the Charlotte (VT) Library about how they used an NNLM R7 Technology Improvement Grant to update the library’s website.

Side by side comparison of the old (on the left) home screen and the new (on the right) home screen of the Charlotte Library's website.

The Charlotte Library website before updates (L) and after (R).

Tell us about your institution. What about your organization do you most want to share with the NNLM community?

The Charlotte Library primarily serves the small town of Charlotte, Vermont (pop. 3800). With no community center, recent loss of the local health center and consolidation of services in our school district, the library’s role as a community hub, information source and activity center is increasingly important.

Why did you decide to update your library website? What were the issues with the old website you were looking to address?

Our website was over 12 years old. It looked outdated and proved challenging for patrons to use as the clunky, outdated navigation and lack of search mechanism made it difficult to find information. Most concerning, our site was not meeting accessibility standards, perhaps preventing people with visual impairments from accessing library services.

In addition to the difficult user interface, the website was also a challenge for library staff to manage. Updating content was time consuming and inserting text or an image could cause formatting issues that required coding to fix. This challenge has affected the ability to get out information, such as emergency announcements or updates to ongoing community issues, particularly noticeable during COVID. An in-house analysis determined that full overhaul was required to make it user friendly and accessible for patrons and website administrators.

How did you go about planning and implementing the website update?

  • Organized committee to review website for content and accessibility.
  • Applied for NNLM technology grant to develop and launch a new website.
  • Received website grant funds. Begin evaluation of current site.
  • Researched and got quotes from website firms.
  • Negotiated and signed contract.
  • Proceeded with formal design process with feedback from committee.
  • Made sitemap.
  • Started content review, edit and creation. Prepared pages and images for migration.

How have you used your community partnerships to support this project?

Community partners:  Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Emergency Management, Charlotte Senior Center

Our community partners provided important accessibility information and suggested links and resources. We look forward to engaging with our community partners to access their information and sites once the website design is complete.

What are the next steps for the project?

The migration phase was recently completed and training scheduled to begin soon. We will then have access to the website platform and the ability to make changes and additions. After the training we will request any errors be corrected. The committee will review the website. After all issues are resolved the site will go live! We will publicize the new website and hold a launch party, offering information sessions on using the new site including highlighting health and safety information.

Lessons learned: If another organization wanted to do something similar, what would they need to know?

Choosing a Website Design Company

  • Make sure the company you decide on meets your needs. Accessibility was a high priority to us. We chose a company that meets WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) to be ADA compliant.
  • Make sure you know the full scope of the project. Which parts the website company is doing and which parts you’re responsible for?
  • Get a clear explanation of the process. How does the design process work? Are you getting a custom design or choosing from a template? How much input/how many revisions do you have? Can you tweak the design after the migration? Is there a main point person if you have any questions or concerns?
  • Be clear about what the money will cover and what we want to have done.
    • For example: In speaking with the initial salesperson, we understood that the company would migrate up to 50 pages from our original website. When it came time to migrate, the team indicated that the limit was 50 files not pages, nowhere near enough for the many pages and images on our website. Fortunately, we were able to straighten this out without incurring any fees.

The Process

  • Organize a committee to get feedback from your community about improvements.
  • Make sure the new site will meet your technology needs: will all staff need access to add calendar and program information?
  • Don’t be afraid to communicate to the website designers with your feedback.
  • Understand the difference between migration from your original site and redesign.
  • Start on content editing and creation as soon as possible. Proofread carefully.
  • Get feedback on terminology and site navigation from the committee to make your new site more user-friendly. For example, based on committee input, Reading Recommendations replaced Readers’ Advisory on our site.
  • Plan for images you will need. Does the design call for more or different kinds of images? For example, does your new design have a long narrow image at the top of each page?
  • After you get access to your new site, check every page and every link before launching.

What resources from NLM or NNLM did you use?

This project would not have been possible without the generous grant from NNLM. As noted in our grant application, COVID led to increased requests for online health information. This new site will allow increased access to the wellness and research pages on our new site that link to MedlinePlus. Additionally, there will be room to include information about All of Us Research Program as well as the NNLM Reading Club and other timely health information.

We are excited to have a greater role as a public library in creating a healthy community!


Image of the author ABOUT Sarah Levin-Lederer

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NNLM Region 7
University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School
55 Lake Avenue North
Worcester, MA 01655
(508) 856-5985

This has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012347 with the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School.

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