October 6, 2016

Relevance is in the eyeballs of the beholder

Google, Bing, Amazon, Apple, and every other major player on the web is engaged in a struggle to capture more eyeballs. Not just any eyeballs -- but the eyeballs of the 87.65% of US residents that use the Internet. Their primary strategy is to provide information and experiences that will lead these users to click deeper and deeper into their sites and ultimately form relationships with their stakeholders (i.e. advertisers and partners).

All of these sites are presenting content and experiences that they hope users will find relevant and because they have something that is of interest, the user clicks on it.

What's relevant

Since they started back in the 1700s public libraries have also been engaged in capturing users by having them go deeper and deeper into the stacks. We have also tried to reach users by taking the library to them. We have traditionally called these attempts -- outreach. Outreach strategies have included everything from librarians on horseback riding up dried creek beds during the depression to bookmobiles to visiting to daycare centers and schools. The real outcome of outreach, however, is not making the library present. It is making the library relevant.

What if the target of your outreach efforts consisted of 86.75% of the users in your community? How could you take your library to these users?  How would you make your library relevant?

Recently, NoveList announced the release of a new product with our linked data partner Zepheira. Zepheira takes a library’s MARC records and makes them findable on the web. This means that the internet users in your community have an opportunity to discover that their library has a copy of a book they just entered into Google’s search box.

Linked data is having an impact in communities like Denver, where the Denver Public Library is receiving 10,000 referrals to their catalog each month from their linked data. That’s 10,000 users every month who have found the library relevant enough to click on the link that takes them to the library’s catalog. The Arapahoe Public Library (CO) also just saw the number of linked data resources in their collection go from 1.3 million data points to 3 million opportunities for relevance by making NoveList Select for Linked Data a component of their open-web strategy.

A recently released PEW study found that for 64% of public library users, relevance means borrowing a book. With NoveList Select for Linked Data the readers in your community who are searching on the web will find that you not only have the books they are looking for but will find suggestions for more like them, more authors to read, and discover what appeals to them about the books that truly matter. This will result not only in more clicks to your catalog but a higher relevance score for your library in the minds that matter most -- your citizens.

Want to hear more about linked data and its impact on libraries? Watch our upcoming webcast.

Duncan is co-founder and general manager of NoveList. He helps transform the lives of readers by leading a team that creates the tools library staff use to provide their most important service -- connecting readers with the books that will make a difference in their lives.

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