Toronto, Ontario, Feb 4, 2022 — As we look back at the past year, we recognize more than ever before how incredible public libraries are and how critical they are in bringing communities together. Unlike 2020, 2021 was the first full year where all nations around the globe faced COVID-19 challenges every single day of the year. While the new "normal" was different for everyone, we've seen unprecedented levels of communication, collaboration, and resourcefulness at a large scale across nations and in smaller circles across communities and neighborhoods. With strength and resilience, public libraries demonstrated their agility in serving their patrons and communities.
The impact public libraries make in patrons' lives is undeniable and truly inspirational.
Enhanced Online Experiences that Increase Library Impact
Throughout 2021, the BiblioCommons team continued to support public libraries with enhanced online experiences, innovative pilot projects, and virtual learning opportunities. Helping libraries thrive in the digital space is our team's primary focus and the reason behind the many enhancements we have made to the entire product suite.
Public library patrons can now partake in the most rewarding and rich discovery experiences ever, and access to recommendations in the BiblioCore catalog further supports that. Patrons looking for a more dynamic and immersive experience of the library can now use the self-checkout capabilities of BiblioApps to conveniently checkout library resources on their own devices, bringing their mobile experience of the library full circle. Continued development of BiblioWeb personalized promotions and the launch of BiblioEmail, an email marketing tool offered as part of the Digital Experience Platform (DXP), are critical to improving the discovery of libraries' collections, programs, and services.
It's an incredibly exciting time to work on these important and innovative solutions that will benefit libraries and patrons. Below are details on the latest feature improvements and enhancements that the BiblioTeam focused on. We couldn't be more thrilled to share these with you!
More Discovery Pathways to Connect Patrons to the Library
The full launch of the Bib Page v2 for all libraries marked the most significant improvements for BiblioCore this year. The latest version of the Bib Page provides enhanced discovery pathways and features library staff lists with image-rich cover art to promote recommendations and strengthen the library's connection to the community. Additional design improvements to the BibPage create a contemporary, easily browsable online library experience that has received rave reviews from library patrons and staff.
BiblioCore title record page displaying reading recommendations, colourful cover art, and community lists
Thank you, thank you, thank you!! The online library is wonderful. While I love browsing in libraries, ordering online is so efficient and effortless! You guys rock!!
— Hennepin County Library patron
Libraries' physical spaces are welcoming to all, and we believe the online catalog should be no different. For that reason, the BiblioTeam made many accessibility enhancements on areas of the Bib Page, including the format chooser, the community contributed content workflows, the dropdown menus, the availability panel, the list cards, the read more/read less links, and the back to links on subpages.
Partner Libraries can dive into detailed BiblioCore product release information by visiting the Partner Portal.
Personalized, Informative, and Gorgeous Websites
In 2021, the BiblioTeam continued to collaborate in partnership with Chicago Public Library to develop Personalized Promotions. This new feature leverages existing website content, taxonomies, and catalog metadata to create personalized promotions within a patron's online search path. The patron's discovery within the catalog becomes more exploratory across the library's digital channels with the automated, visually appealing, and contextually relevant content that can include online resources, events, and staff recommendations.
Personalized Promotions are a part of the BiblioCommons Digital Experience Platform (DXP). The DXP seamlessly integrates the patron engagement capabilities of BiblioWeb, BiblioEvents, and BiblioEmail into powerful and enriching digital experiences and touchpoints that are based on the web content management environment.
This is the best website I have ever seen. Your Web Team should be complimented.
— Tacoma Public Library Patron
Additionally, BiblioCommons did a pilot project with King County Library System that explores Machine Learning to produce personalized recommendations for library services. By leveraging modular content, linked metadata, and patron behavioral data, a library can predict and promote the most relevant set of content and services to patrons as they navigate the library catalog.
In the fall of 2021, the BiblioTeam released new BiblioWeb ‘Locations Pages'. Public Libraries are now able to fully customize the new locations pages to fit their communication needs, brand voice, and goals. Based on feedback BiblioCommons received from libraries as part of the BiblioWeb Location Page user research, the BiblioTeam has introduced new, completely flexible Location pages that also leverage automated content from the catalog and events modules to create an engaging but easily managed home page for each library branch or location.
Customizable BiblioWeb library branch location page
Libraries using BiblioWeb can now see how audiences are engaging with blog posts and news pages with the help of a new Data Studio Report. This report allows libraries to see how many people are reading blog posts and which blog posts are popular, in addition to viewing hold, shelf, and click interactions with the 'Add Title' and ‘Add List' widgets from blogs and news posts.
This year, many other enhancements were made to introduce more consistent styling and boost communication with website visitors, plus improve staff workflows. All of the intricate details about the BiblioWeb product releases can be found in the Partner Portal.
Library Staff Love the New Event Scheduling Features
This demanding year has taught us that being agile is a critical aspect of supporting one another. For that reason, the BiblioTeam added new features and improvements to BiblioEvents to enhance the library staff user experience when rescheduling events. Staff can now make location, time, or date changes to events with existing registrants, and compose a customized note to be included in the update email sent to the current registrants. This note can be used to highlight the changes made to the event/event series so that users are aware of the update.
As library locations adapted their services due to the pandemic, they found a greater need for more flexible location pages. The BiblioTeam updated the prominence of Location Alerts so that they display more prominently to users across the Hours & Location module, highlighting location information patrons need to be aware of (for example, service limitations) while also offering admins new editing functionality. New fields were added for events with online registration so that staff can optionally include information to registrants on how to prepare for an event and how to attend (to add relevant instructions on how to join the event, such as a Zoom link).
BiblioEvents landing page that includes multiple events with search filters
In 2022, BiblioEvents users will see a complete refresh to the events landing page that will make it easier for users to browse and find events that interest them. This update will enable users to see their preferred locations at the top when they are logged in, giving them faster access to find events at their locations of choice.
All BiblioEvents product release information is available to Partner Libraries in the Partner Portal.
Easy Ways for Library Staff to Promote the Catalog to Patrons
At the beginning of 2021, BiblioCommons officially launched BiblioEmail as a part of the BiblioCommons Digital Experience Platform (DXP). The DXP seamlessly integrates the patron engagement capabilities of BiblioWeb, BiblioEvents, and BiblioEmail into powerful and enriching digital experiences and touchpoints that are based on the web content management environment.
BiblioEmail's drip campaign functionality allows libraries to create, send, and analyze email campaigns to engage email subscribers effectively. Drip campaigns are designed to reach out to a specific segment of patrons with a targeted message at the right time. The drip campaign automation helps library staff save time when creating emails and provides more timely and personalized content to patrons.
Another exciting aspect is the ability to promote the latest items in the collection to email subscribers by using the Catalog Module, which seamlessly highlights catalog search results. With this integration, email recipients will be sure to visit and explore the catalog.
More details about the BiblioEmail product releases is available to Partner Libraries in the Partner Portal.
Self-Checkout and Dynamic On-the-Go Experiences
Public libraries using BiblioApps were migrated to the latest version in 2021 for both Android and iOS, and many new libraries subscribed to the all-new BiblioApps. Numerous enhancements and new features were released to make the on-the-go library experience more dynamic for patrons.
I love this app!!
— Boston Public Library Patron
In response to libraries needing to adapt to physically distanced library services, self-checkout was developed and launched for BiblioApps. Self-checkout allows users to check out items right from their own devices. Self-checkout for libraries using RFID security is currently under development as well. As BiblioCommons continues to invest in mobile app technology, and respond to user feedback, users are now able to submit feedback directly to libraries using the new ‘Share Feedback' functionality.
BiblioApps homepage on Android Device
BiblioApps self-checkout functionality on an Android Device
Notably, both versions of BiblioApps now better replicate the functionality of the new and improved BiblioCore display for enhanced discovery and better personal record keeping. Updates were made to the search, location screen, navigation, home screen, and ‘My Library' screen to provide users a complete range of tools allowing them to obtain, evaluate, discover, and engage with the collections. Accessibility improvements were made to multiple areas of BiblioApps, and translations for all eight available languages have been revised and updated to welcome patrons from more cultures and backgrounds to the library.
All BiblioApps product release information is available to Partner Libraries in the Partner Portal.
An Online Public Library Community
As the year progressed, it was critical for libraries to stay connected to one another and for staff to have the opportunity to learn new skills and grow professionally. The BiblioTeam placed emphasis on learning opportunities for public library staff by facilitating many virtual events that supported peer-to-peer learning and networking.
BiblioCon '21 stats: 600 Registrants, 43 Sessions, 51 Guest Speakers, 385 Networking Messages, 1009 Community Board Messages
At the beginning of the year, BiblioCommons hosted BiblioCon '21, a hugely successful two-day virtual conference with sessions across three theme-based tracks. Session speakers included library staff, industry experts, and BiblioTeam members. A third day of office hours was available for partner libraries wishing to ask product questions to BiblioTeam experts. Registration for the conference was complimentary, making it convenient for library staff from all levels and roles to attend and network with each other. Over 600 registrants attended the event from public libraries across North America, Australia, and New Zealand.
Throughout the year, BiblioCommons facilitated numerous webinars with content that spanned different areas of interest, from ILS information, how to implement new software, assessing discovery layers, staff lists, how libraries can address misinformation, and much more.
Additional events also included a directors' panel that brought together directors from different libraries to have intimate discussions about public library metrics that make an impact, as well as quarterly BiblioWeb Meetups.
Working Together to Get Further
In the past 12 months, we have seen the BiblioCommons community continue to grow. Many new libraries and consortia joined the shared digital platform to unlock the full potential of the web to inspire, welcome, and connect their communities.
Yuma County Library District (AZ) subscribed to BiblioCore, BiblioWeb, and BiblioApps; and Chandler Public Library (AZ) subscribed to the complete BiblioCommons suite (BiblioCore, BiblioWeb, BiblioEvents, BiblioEmail, and BiblioApps).
Glendale Library, Arts & Culture (CA), East Chicago Public Library (IN), Elk Grove Village Public Library (IL), Ontario Library Consortium (ON), and Mid-Arkansas Regional Library System (AR) subscribed to the BiblioCore online catalog.
Kenton County Public Library (KY), Canton Public Library (MI), Westerville Public Library (OH), Stark County District Library (OH), Kenosha Public Library (WI), and Wood Buffalo Regional Library (AB) subscribed to the combined online catalog and website experience supported by BiblioCore and BiblioWeb.
Herrick District Library (MI), Strathcona County Library Board (AB), Oshawa Public Libraries (ON), Aurora Public Library (ON), and Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County (OH) added a subscription of BiblioWeb; while Grand Rapids Public Library (MI) subscribed to BiblioWeb and BiblioApps, and Laurel County Public Library (KY) subscribed to BiblioEvents.
Tacoma Public Library (WA), Fulton County Library System (GA), and Edmonton Public Library (AB) subscribed to BiblioEmail as a part of the BiblioCommons Digital Experience Platform (DXP).
2021 was an exciting year for BiblioApps, the mobile app solution for iOS and Android. Many libraries added a subscription to BiblioApps, including Tulsa City-County Library (OK), Clark County Public Library (OH), Durham County Library (NC), Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (NC), Jefferson County Public Library (CO), and IFLS Library System (MORE Consortium) (WI). Furthermore, current library partners that already subscribe to BiblioApps added the all-new BiblioApps Self-Checkout functionality. These libraries include Calgary Public Library (AB), Pima County Public Library (AZ), Central Rappahannock Regional Library (VA), Arapahoe Libraries, and Daniel Boone Regional Library (MO).
Most years come and go with lightning speed, and more than ever, 2021 certainly felt like one of those years. BiblioCommons is honored to partner with all the wonderful public libraries that subscribe to our products. The BiblioTeam is incredibly grateful to work with public library staff in supporting the communities and users they serve—and very much looks forward to the year ahead.
BiblioCommons builds software that transforms the public library's essential online services—the website, the catalog, the events calendar, the marketing communications, and the mobile app—from transactions to experiences worthy of the public library. BiblioCommons powers integrated online experiences for many of the top public libraries of all sizes across the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.