Mugo partner since 2021
Haliburton County Public Library connects with its patrons through a new, accessible site and brand relaunch
When Haliburton County Public Library (HCPL) learned their consortium would be switching from SirsiDynix to BiblioCommons, they knew the time had come to change more than just their ILS.
Up to that point, HCPL had used an OPAC product from their ILS provider as their main library website. “It was a cost-saving measure,” said Erin Kernohan-Berning, Technology & Systems Coordinator, for HCPL. “But as we added things, like programs and services, it was inadequate and difficult to use.”
HCPL didn't have a tech-services librarian at the time or internal IT. They needed help. Building something in-house would not have solved the problems they had with their first site, and they needed a team of experts. It turned out that it was a fortuitous time to start this project for several reasons. In addition to moving away from the platform providing their site, Haliburton County had COVID recovery funds available. HCPL could now look into finding the help they needed to develop their custom site. After an RFP process, HCPL chose Mugo Web as their development partner.
"A good modern website is a complicated beast," Erin reflected. "It's no longer just open up Notepad and start writing HTML. Having a company like Mugo, where it's what you do, is beneficial. [Library] staff can't be the experts in everything."
"Mugo heard what we needed and had the library connection. It made a tailor-made solution that was appropriate for our scope and size," said Chris Stephenson, HCPL CEO.
HCPL also wanted to update its brand with a new logo and integrate it into the design for the new site. Mugo turned to design partner Tianna Kwong. Through a collaborative process, the team came up with a fresh face for the Mugo Library platform that exemplified the welcoming and vibrant culture of the HCPL.
The community's reaction to the new brand has been encouraging. "Brand recognition is happening," Chris said. "Even across things like social media, you know now when you see something pops up that it's an HCPL thing. People are noticing and joining in."
The HCPL project presented a chance for Mugo Web to expand and showcase the flexibility of the Mugo Library platform. Several new features were added during the project, and the development team worked to incorporate new integrations to make the site secure and customized. Peter Keung, Managing Director at Mugo Web, talked about the process of launching Mugo Library for HCPL. "We gave them something very tailored to them while building on our existing features. Our Mugo Library platform can adapt and accommodate requests from specific libraries, rather than constraining what they can do."
Making sure key information is easy to find and clear to read is a cornerstone of Mugo Library. HCPL has eight branches, all with varying hours of operation. One of their locations doesn't even have hours, as it is not a physical building but a series of lockers for resident delivery and pick up. Previous iterations of Mugo Library have featured hours of operation as part of the home page, but that wasn't going to fit HCPL's needs. They needed something easy for staff to manage and easy for patrons to read. It needed to incorporate location, hours, holiday closings, and special information.
Mugo adapted the location page to showcase essential information for each branch as an easy, at-a-glance resource. Each library branch also has an individual landing page that gives detailed information about that location, including an integrated google map. The landing page pulls information from the event calendar and displays upcoming programs specific to that branch.
This at-a-glance landing page has proved useful for the public and staff alike. Erin talked about how she has used it when contacting the branches. "It's helpful just to find contact information. I don't have every branch number memorized, so the other day I just pulled up the website on my phone. I just went to the branch page and hit the number to call."
A new feature added to this integration of the library solution was customizable announcement banners across the top of each page. Each banner is a solid color (based on the new HCPL branding package) and can display a special message or link. The banners provide a quick way to get crucial information across to viewers. Whether it's holiday closures or changes to services, it takes minimal time for staff to update the site and know that patrons will have clear access to the information they need.
HCPL needed to ensure they complied with Ontario's accessibility regulations and those of Halliburton County. Luckily, Mugo Web specializes in accessibility. Mugo provided accessibility audits of the site and special training for the staff on maintaining their accessibility standards. After launch, the city ran an automated site audit, which passed with high compliance.
The site is also fully mobile responsive, a standard feature of Mugo Library. HCPL patrons don't have to worry about being able to access the site if they only have internet service through a phone or other mobile device. They will get a high-quality experience and the ability to access all the website's features regardless.
Another challenge for the Mugo development team was ensuring the site's backend and staff logins worked with Duo Security. Standard security measures are built into Mugo Library, but HCPL staff wanted extra protection with two-factor authentication. Now, when staff logs in to the CMS to update the website, they get a notification on their cell phone from Duo confirming their identity. Duo sends the appropriate response based on that confirmation back to the login page to complete the process and allow staff access to the CMS.
HCPL utilizes BiblioCommons for their ILS and online catalog. One of the strengths of the Mugo Library platform is that it can work with different ILS services. Other iterations of Mugo Library have used TLC LS2 PAC and Polaris. No matter which catalog service a library uses, Mugo Library can work with the catalog to feature books and lists across any site page.
Featuring the library's collection in this way can be a game changer. "We have way more tools at our disposal than we used to," Erin says. "We're rethinking how we display different parts of our collection. Now with the BiblioCommons integrations, book lists are much faster and current."
Mugo Library's custom event calendar and registration system was a huge step up for HCPL. Sally Howson was quoted speaking about it in the Minden Times on June 14th. "That whole programming page, wow…. That's going to make it so much easier for people to register, to find out what's going on … I think we've just done a whole quantum leap in the library. We've just come forward so far. It's amazing."
It's made it easier for staff, as well as patrons. "In the office, we were talking about the calendar, and someone went, 'I love the calendar, it's so easy to see what's going on and answer questions for patrons when they call.' They aren't having to sift through emails. Everything is just right there," says Erin.
"There are more people joining the library and noticing things," said Chris.
Once the design and development phases were complete, it was time to migrate information from the old site, start training staff, and get ready for launch. Mugo provided several staff trainings and followed with continual support during the testing phase.
The launch itself was merely the matter of flipping a switch. Thanks to redirects and carefully planned, preparatory changes to the DNS settings, the new site was ready to go at a moment's notice. There was no disruption to service for patrons or staff.
The new site has changed HCPL's workflow for the better. In addition to being able to find information more quickly, it's saved them time in content management and updating.
"We don't have to work to make things look nice. It's so fast to update. Previously it would take an hour to update and get it to look as it should. Now I can crank out an entire page in an hour, and that's even making something I like, not the bare minimum it used to be. Updating something is 5 minutes. Making sure the website is up to date and current is easy and fun. I enjoy it now," says Erin.
"It's made the work much easier for our marketer, and the site looks more professional and neater," Chris agreed.
Mugo is committed to building long-term partnerships with libraries. The Haliburton site launch wasn't simply the end of a project well done but the start of a continuing relationship. No matter what happens, the Mugo team is there to help provide maintenance and support as needed. Libraries serve a special function in society by being accessible and open to all. Their websites should reflect that as well.
"We spent a lot of time reducing barriers for patrons," Chris said, reflecting on why Mugo stood out, "So when we worked with a vendor that made things easier for us, who listened to our problems, that was a selling point out of the gate."
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