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David Lee King: Your digital branch has unique content

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Most of us know our library websites are important. But did you know that your library's website is also unique? In fact, it's the only place to access some of your library's most important content!

Image: David Lee KingDavid Lee King

David Lee King is the Digital Services Director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, where he plans, implements, and experiments with emerging technology trends.

He speaks internationally about emerging trends, website management, digital experience, and social media, and has been published in many library-related journals. David is a Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

His newest book is Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections.

David blogs at

Image: Social media
Your library's website, or digital branch, is the only place you can find:

The full catalogue

Customers love to visit the library, browse the shelves, and find things to read. Nothing wrong with that, right? But if that customer wants to see everything the library has to offer, there's only one way to do that: by using the library's online catalog, accessed through the digital branch.

Ebooks and other econtent

You can't check out an ebook by browsing the shelves. You have to use the library's digital branch to access ebooks. Same with other content, like article databases, Hoopla digital videos, or your subscription to ProQuest. The only way to access these tools is through your digital branch.

Reserving a meeting room or a seat in the class

If your library allows customers to reserve meeting rooms or reserve a seat in a library class or event, you most likely do this online (my library does). Which means … through your digital branch. Who wants to dedicate a valuable staff member to answer phones and sign someone up for a class when it can be done faster and easier online?

The full calendar of events

If you want to see what's happening in the library, your best bet is to go online. Your library might create a print version of a Calendar of Events. My library does, and it extends 3 months out. But if you want to see six months out, you need to use the library's online calendar of events for that. If we have changed the date or time of the event, the best way to find out about that is through the digital branch.

Multiple ways to ask a question

Yes, you can walk up to the reference desk to ask a question if you're in the library building. But online, you can ask in multiple ways: through texting, web-based chat, a comment on an article, through email, or by looking up the phone number and calling. You can even ask using social media channels like Facebook or Twitter.

Local history and special collections

My library has a cool art gallery. We display a small fraction of what we have at any one time. But most of it is in storage, waiting for the next public exhibit. We are in the process of digitizing the whole collection. Once digitized, customers will be able to "visit" and view our art, even if it's in storage.

Your library's story

Finally, you can also discover your library's story online. You can't really do this well in a building; where would you even start? But through news articles, press releases, local history collections, and online community connections, your library's story can unfold online.

Your library's digital branch is the only place to access your full collection, your pricey databases, your ebook collection, your digitized special collections, and a variety of ways to connect with staff. Let's work on improving our digital branches, so our customers can easily access all of our amazing content!