D.C. Public Library
Building a future-ready online destination to keep diverse communities connected and informed, even during a pandemic
D.C. citizens using I.F. technology
Increase in mobile utilization of online services
John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award
3rd Party Integrations
The (Washington) D.C. Public Library knew that their online presence was not serving all patrons equally well. They wanted a new site that would be better able to reach and engage first-time library users from low-income areas, attract new patrons from across the city, and increase general awareness and consumptions of their ample digital resources. But for a city-wide system with more than two dozen branches and more than 15 million digital assets, it wasn’t easy to figure out the best path forward.
Expanding access and engagement
I.F.’s Voice of Patron® data showed that less than half of the library’s patrons were aware of the digital resources and that lower-income areas accessed digital resources at an even lower rate. Our research also suggested that the current navigation was too confusing and time consuming and that the site lacked adequate instructions and descriptions for key resources and services.
Using that data as our starting point, we developed a new interface for the library’s free digital resources that functions similarly to popular consumer interfaces like Netflix and Spotify. Our goDigital solution also includes a back-end tagging system that makes it easy for content managers to organize and feature resources. Users can then filter and view results in a card-style layout that makes it easy to find what they’re looking for based on title, subject, or medium. This functionality became the basis for even more site enhancements when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered physical branches for several months in 2020.
Our work with D.C. Public Library has also led to increased engagement in communities that previously under-utilized the free resources the library provides. Our mobile-friendly design has been key to expanding this use and accessibility.
- Mobile-first design to ensure equal access
- Clean navigation with simple paths for user success
- Custom showcase for digital resources to increase usership
- Friendly instructions and tips to support key services
Innovation in action: “goDigital” and connecting communities in uncertain times
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced D.C. Public Library to close its physical branches, they reached out to I.F. about finding a way to make sure patrons were making better use of their extensive online collections. We got to work transforming their “goDigital” media catalog landing page to highlight the number of tools and range of media available instantly. We also created clear pathways to redirect users accustomed to searching for physical materials to the digital collections instead. The result is an enriched online destination where users can quickly see the full range of how they can watch, read, listen, or learn, all free with their library card. It has provided the library with a way to increase outreach and attract new users even after branches began to reopen.