BookSpaceBookSpace was launched on Hennepin County Library's (HCL) public website, www.hclib.org, on February 14, 2007. HCL’s website is used heavily by customers looking for a good book to read. BookSpace is a complete redesign of the former Books & Reading section, which was a well-used (40,000 hits/week) but outmoded specialty page that didn’t provide the kind of dynamic service our customers need. Online resources, including the library catalog, subscription databases, selected websites, librarian-generated book lists and author lists, etc., were available but not integrated, making them harder to use than necessary. Staff outside the Web Services unit couldn’t easily contribute content or update sections.
A new infrastructure was put in place that allows for database-driven content, and an in-house content management system allows 30+ librarians throughout the system to easily contribute content to assigned pages without needing any knowledge of html or programming. New BookSpace pages bring together all relevant resources for a particular genre or format. A visit to the Mysteries/Suspense/Horror subject page will find book lists, author lists, selected websites, new titles just ordered, etc. A librarian blog on each page is updated at least monthly, suggesting more great books and resources.
One of the major goals of the redesign was to allow our customers to contribute their own content and share their favorite books with each other. A new tool was developed that customers use to compile a list of books to share with others. Two other services introduced earlier in the year were brought together in BookSpace: Author Alerts (readers sign up for email alerts when new books by their favorite authors are ordered) and Comments in the Catalog (customers add comments to any title in the library catalog.) The new My BookSpace lets customers track and update their comments, Author Alerts, and book lists.