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Chicago Public Library Launches New Web Site, Part I

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Thanks to a $1,000,000 capital grant from the Chicago Public Library Foundation (C.P.L.F.), the Chicago Public Library (C.P.L.) was able to launch a new Web site yesterday Thursday, April 10, 2014. The C.P.L. announced on Monday, April 7, 2014, “The grant supported the creation of the new site, enhanced discovery and search features, our first mobile app and ongoing development for three years.”

Meredith Schwartz noted in Library Journal last year that Library Commissioner Brian Bannon, who had previously been Chief Information Officer of the San Francisco Public Library, “signed CPL on with BiblioCommons. ‘Not having the internal development skills on hand, this is a trend, to outsource the design portion completely,’ he says. Working with the library’s foundation, CPL hopes to redesign the library’s entire web environment, working with BiblioCommons on a three-year grant. New services would include accepting credit cards but also a host of patron interactions: they’d be able to add metadata to tags, review, star, rank, and create a link to video about cataloged materials.”

BiblioCommons has customers in the U.S, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. They include the Austin Public Library, the Boston Public Library, the Christchurch City Libraries, the Edmonton Public Library, The New York Public Library, the Omaha Public Library, the Portland Public Library, the Santa Monica Public Library, the Seattle Public Library, the Tulsa Public Library, and the Vancouver Public Library.

The BiblioCommons YouTube Channel posted four video tutorials for the C.P.L. about how to use the Web site. There is one for exploring the new home page; one for logging in for the first time on the new Web site; one of managing borrowed materials (including placing holds, cancelling holds, suspending holds while one is on vacation, and renewing a book one has already borrowed); and one on searching for books and other materials.

All of these videos are also available to watch on the Web page of the press release on the C.P.L.’s new Web site. One of the features of the new Web site is that it will allow patrons to keep track of books they have borrowed.

In a separate press release dated April 8, 2014, the C.P.L. stated, “We’re grateful to the Chicago Public Library Foundation for a $1 million grant to fund our new website. The grant supported the creation of the new site, enhanced discovery and search features, our first mobile app and ongoing development for three years.”

This investment from the Chicago Public Library Foundation Board of Directors and donors enabled us to partner with BiblioCommons, a software company known in the library field for its innovative, user-centered products, to create a website that offers features our patrons have asked for: the ability to create a username and PIN, keep a history of what they’ve checked out and a wishlist of what they want to check out, and much more.

C.P.L.F. Chairman Bob Wislow stated, “The Chicago Public Library Foundation’s Board of Directors and donors have made a significant investment in the redesign of the Library’s website. As the funding partner to the Library, our role is to make contributions that will enhance the collection access and technology experience for all patrons. The Foundation is extraordinarily grateful to the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, BMO Harris Bank and our retired Director Dan Hill for their contributions of time and expertise. We are proud to facilitate these new features that will give library users a new level of interaction with the Chicago Public Library. ”

Further, the C.P.L. announced, “We’re also excited to offer the streaming video service Hoopla with funding from the Chicago Public Library Foundation. Hoopla offers streaming movies, television, music and audiobook titles that can also be downloaded for later viewing.”

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