Website in A Box

The Website in a Box program started in 2007 as an answer to a solution. The Utah State Library had a new certification requirement of public libraries: that they have a website with key features. In thinking about how to help librarians meet this goal, I spoke to Shelly Drumm of BCR (now Lyrasis) to develop a training event. I wanted training on website design that covered how to get a website together without previous website design skills. I was interested in how to make a website functional and welcoming, with a place for the library catalog and upcoming events, and definitely some Web 2.0 features. I knew I was asking a tall order.

Shelly Drumm brainstormed with Regan Harper of BCR and then came to me with a solution. It was the answer I was looking for, and at a price we could afford. How about if we create a class where attendees could come to the session and walk out with a functioning website? Shelly would do the behind the scenes things and then come and train library directors and other staff how to implement it.

Fifteen libraries participated. Librarians came and learned how to choose a theme, design their site, and add content. They learned to add graphics, email addresses, links, pages, and everything else they needed to create a library website. We used WordPress to build the project.

At the outset, the Utah State Library committed to two years of support and instruction for the library websites. As the two year mark came, we started thinking about what was needed to transition the project. Six months later, we encouraged all libraries to put their site on their city or county’s server, or other server space that they may have had. I worked with libraries to help them achieve the goal at the three year mark, in 2010. Nine of the fifteen libraries continued the project; the rest decided to go with a site off of their city’s site, or another model. All have active websites in 2013.

This turned out to be much more than a training event; it was a project that moved libraries forward in meaningful ways. The return on investment is huge. Websites are right now generating thousands of hits, library catalogs are on many of the sites, the word is spreading in the various towns, and people are very happy.

The project was originally funded through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Staying Connected grant program and has been maintained since by the Utah State Library Division.

More details | Posts about the program | Evaluation

Colleen Eggett, Training Coordinator/Consultant, Utah State Library

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