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The new website for the San Jose Public Library has finally launched!

You can see the site at

The major changes that this new site represent:

  • a new URL,
  • a split from the combined website we previously had (with the SJSU Library)
  • a new design, created by our web librarian Nate Hill
  • new site content
  • new information architecture
  • new content management system (Drupal)
  • a new way for staff to update content directly through a customized, simplified WYSIWYG editor

So you know…it’s not like it was a huge project or anything.

Other significant highlights of the site:

  • Every single staff member at SJPL has been asked and empowered to create blog posts for the new site.  That means everyone.  No limiting by classification, specialization, or degree-holding nonsense.  We’re all smart.  We all have things we know about and want to share with our library users.  We currently have over 300 staff set up to create content and I couldn’t be happier.
  • Content is not pre-moderated by any web staff.  When staff click “Save,” it goes up.  And rightly so.
  • We offer commenting as a function on almost every part of our site, and user comments are not pre-moderated either.  Again, rightly so.
  • We strove for minimalism and simplicity in both design and content whenever possible.
  • We don’t use the words “database” or “OPAC.”  We chose words that our users actually told us they wanted us to use.
  • We are making  heavy use of RSS feed content.  Take our branch library webpages as an example, e.g. West Valley.  You’ve got RSS populating the next upcoming events, the blog posts from the staff, and the newest items in that branch library’s collection.  Go dynamic content!

This launch is the culmination of a three year project.  I want to thank the current members of the Digital Futures web team (Tim Reif, Hilary Langhorst, Nate Hill, and Robert Sese) for busting their rear ends to see this thing through.  I know I bribed you with food and caffeine on occasion, but hey–a manager’s got to have her tricks.  Every ounce of energy we possess has gone into this project, and it is beyond satisfying to see it go live.

There will be more changes and enhancements in the days and months ahead, but for now – a *deep* sigh of relief.  And a beer.  Or two.

“Our New Website Launch: San Jose Public Library”

  1. Tweets that mention Our New Website Launch: San Jose Public Library | Librarian in Black Blog – Sarah Houghton-Jan -- Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sarah Houghton-Jan, WPL Reference Div and Michael McCulley, Ivonnette. Ivonnette said: RT @TheLiB: New post on Librarian in Black the new San Jose Public Library website ( [...]

  2. Marianne Says:

    This is absolutely beautiful.

  3. Alejandro Garza Says:


    I also see you’re using Drupal =)

    Sad to say, though, still the same’ol III WebOPAC. Hope you can “correct” that soon (check out the Millennium Integration Drupal module … *wink wink*)

  4. Sarah Says:

    Thanks Marianne!

    And Alejandro – Yes, Drupal. Whoo hoo! The Millennium Integration Drupal module is not the complete answer. We would have to create and install SOPAC (, which would be lovely. It’s not like flipping a switch….but rather a seriously staff intensive project, especially considering that we need interfaces in 4 languages. I am working toward that goal, though the next several months’ staff time are already spoken for with other strategic planning priorities… But we’re looking at it for sure!

  5. Erin Says:

    You rock, Sarah! Congrats to you, your team, and your entire library on the exciting new site.

  6. Svea Says:

    Very nice! You’re giving me inspiration for our library website redesign, which we’re doing on a shoestring budget. Can I ask, what are you linking to under Books & Media >What to Read Now (Novelist)? Just the Novelist databases, or a page within it?

  7. Emily Lloyd Says:

    Freaking fantastic. I was gushing about it yesterday and didn’t realize the connection to you.

  8. Ben Rop Says:

    OMG! This really is fantastic! Great job!

  9. Links of interest: November 19, 2010 « A Modern Hypatia Says:

    [...] Sarah Houghton-John, the Digital Futures manager at SJPL talks about the project at her blog Librarian in Black. And of course, links to the new site. [...]

  10. Jane Says:

    Every single staff member at SJPL has been asked and empowered to create blog posts for the new site. That means everyone. No limiting by classification, specialization, or degree-holding nonsense. We’re all smart. We all have things we know about and want to share with our library users.

    It’s so refreshing to find this attitude and it saddens me that in the spirit of sharing information and knowledge this kind of attitude isn’t more prevalent. It’s not true for all libraries, but certainly in the place where I work there is a distinctly patronising attitude towards non-qualified staff and they would certainly never be trusted with un-moderated contributions. I hope people learn from your example.

    The website looks great.

  11. How to Create and Run Your Website | Libology Blog Says:

    [...] Our New Website Launch [...]

  12. Friday Link Round Up « ellie <3 libraries Says:

    [...] Our New Website Launch: San Jose Public Library   Leave a Comment LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  13. custom term papers writing Says:

    Wonderful posting I found at I keep on reading this attractive blog.

  14. Alisha Miles Says:

    Great website and definitely an inspiration for others. I am curious though, why would you need Drupal modules III and SOPAC?

    I was also wondering if you figured out a ‘homegrown’ link resolver solution? I have been investigating GODOT and others, but none of them will auto log users into databases that do not use IP authentication. This is the issue I am having in my very small medical library. I need a system like EBSCO’s A-Z or Serials Solutions or EZProxy … but homegrown or open source. Do you know of any?

    Again, great results. Check the page in Chrome though, because I noticed several differences when accessing in IE vs Chrome.


  15. Sarah Says:

    @Alisha: If we want SOPAC (a Drupal-based open source catalog solution) to be integrated with our website and to replace the publicly visible catalog interface (currently the default native III Millennium interface), then you need to install and implement both the Millennium module and SOPAC separately.

    I have not heard (that I remember) of any homegrown link resolvers, but perhaps someone else has.

    There are differences with our new website between browsers — almost all websites show differences of some kind. We made sure it worked, was laid out well, and was ADA compliant in all browsers. That’s what mattered most :)

  16. Exploring Participatory Services in a Library 2.0 World… » Blog Archive » Look Who’s Talkin’: A Brand Monitoring Assignment Says:

    [...] November 2010, the San Jose Public Library launched a brand new website.  While the Librarian in Black does a great job summarizing the main features of the site, it is important to highlight the main [...]

  17. Behind the Scenes with Empower Network and David Wood | Clients Says:

    [...] and empower people with the Empower Network Cynthia Chebultz   Here I sit … still at Walt Disney World in Florida a week later,  working behind the scenes with …c launch … literally round the clock, taking naps and not really going to sleep, repeatedly [...]

  18. clinton fischer Says:

    Hello, I am at the MLK library bookstore on Sunday. I was here trying to locate Hilary, in case I need help, Thankyou clinton

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