Marion and Ed Hughes Public Library

How one Texas consortium member upgraded its library website with Stacks

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At a Glance

Marion and Ed Hughes Public Library
Nederland, Texas

Institution Type:   Public Libraries
Related Products:   Stacks Library Websites

marion ed hughes public library exterior

Overview

Located in Nederland, Texas, Marion and Ed Hughes Public Library serves a population of approximately 17,600 with nearly 5,000 active library users. The library is part of the Houston Area Library Automated Network (HALAN), a consortium serving eight public libraries in the Houston and East Central Texas area.

To support the information needs of its patrons, the library offers access to more than 80,000 print volumes, 71 databases via TexShare, and more than 65,700 electronic resources including eBooks, downloadable audiobooks and streaming videos. In addition, the library uses EBSCO Discovery Service™ and Novelist Plus® through HALAN.

In 2018, the Director of HALAN implemented the Stacks web platform with the goal of turning ownership of individual library websites back to the libraries. Since then, library staff members are creating and maintaining content for their own websites and ultimately providing a better library experience for patrons.

Stacks has made maintaining our website much more streamlined and efficient.

Victoria L. Klehn
Director of Library Services
Marion and Ed Hughes Public Library

Challenges

Prior to implementing Stacks, the library website was hosted on a server maintained by HALAN. According to Victoria L. Klehn, Director of Library Services at Marion and Ed Hughes Public Library, the 10-year-old website was clunky and the process of making changes was inefficient. Library staff members edited content in Dreamweaver and uploaded changes to the server via FTP. Since the library staff had little knowledge of CSS and stylesheets, any changes to the site’s templates (header, dropdowns, slider, etc.) had to be submitted to HALAN’s technology staff.

In addition, the website’s look and feel was outdated. It was text-heavy with very few images, and the lack of responsive web design meant patrons on tablets and other mobile devices were struggling with a poor user experience.

“We wanted to highlight online and other services in a more eye-catching way,” Klehn said. “This would allow them to be located more easily by patrons and hopefully would increase usage.”

Promoting the library’s unique events was also a challenge. The library investigated using the events calendar in their online system, but it was not possible for patrons to limit results to see only those events scheduled at their “home” library.

“Given our size, that meant that our programs would be lost in a myriad of events hosted by the larger libraries,” Klehn explained. To resolve the issue, the library subscribed to a third-party vendor for its events calendar.

mariod ed hughes public library old website homepage

After several years of research, wish lists, stops and starts, the solution finally came when HALAN Chief Fred Schumacher shared information with Klehn about Stacks, a fully hosted content management system built specifically for libraries.

“I watched a few demos and explored the websites of existing Stacks clients,” Klehn said. “I was intrigued, and the more I explored the platform, the more I was convinced it would do what we needed. I contacted Fred and asked him to place us at the top of the queue for implementation when the product became available.”

Solutions

Although the Marion and Ed Hughes Public Library is a member of the HALAN, it is still a stand-alone library that maintains its own branding. The Stacks platform allows each library to customize its website with its own logos, colors, content and layout.

Creating and maintaining the library website’s unique look and feel was easy to achieve. Library staff members attended training demos and webinars to learn how to use Stacks. Klehn said the tool’s drag-and-drop feature really streamlined layout development. Staff members could create content in the modules, and then move the modules around until settling on the layout they liked best.

“It’s been very easy to go in and tweak content,” Klehn said. “We’ve added specific user roles so that other staff members can assist with maintaining various elements of the site. Even those with limited HTML knowledge picked up the process relatively quickly.”

Additionally, the robust Events Management feature included with Stacks, which lets patrons filter events and programs to only those at their home library, has led the Marion and Ed Hughes Public Library to cancel its subscription to the third-party calendar and events service.

marion ed hughes public library website with stacks

Benefits & Results

Since implementing Stacks, Klehn said, the library has been able to keep its website content fresh and up-to-date without having to worry about network issues, browsers, and security upgrades as these aspects are all handled by Stacks. And now that its website is responsive, the library is meeting accessibility standards and providing a better experience for mobile device users.

Klehn encourages other libraries facing similar challenges to set up a demo and trial of Stacks. Library leaders will quickly see how user-friendly the platform is for non-technical staff members.

“Stacks has made maintaining our website much more streamlined and efficient,” Klehn said. “Once you have the basics down, it’s very easy to implement.”

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