Library News Tutorial

HOWTO: Integrating your Library’s KLOW site with an RSS Screen Saver

Today we have a guest post from Thatcher Rea from Basehor Library. Enjoy!


Thatcher Rea
Technology Services Coordinator
Basehor Community Library

Hopefully your decision to use KLOW for your library website has been an incredibly enjoyable experience – Basehor Library’s move meant not only could we more quickly publish content to our website, we could have multiple librarians and staff authoring content as soon as it was ready, instead of waiting for a webmaster to massage and publish the content.

The use of KLOW brings a number of really helpful and interesting features – one of which is RSS. If you’re not familiar with this feature, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and is quickly becoming the preferred method of keeping up to date with other web sites in an automated fashion, without visiting the website from which the content originated.

Users of KLOW will also have the added benefit of being able to create specific categories, and then use RSS feeds from those categories specifically (Which KLOW does for you automatically). Combine this with a freely available RSS Screen Saver and you now have a simple, yet powerful tool for prominently displaying information in your library. Update the website, and your information is automatically updated and displayed without any further effort on your part.

This sounds great you may ask, but what would we use it for? By being able to subscribe to an RSS feed for a specific category within your KLOW site means you can use this approach for a variety of different uses. For example:

  • Displaying helpful tips on your public access computers for patrons at your library
  • Display upcoming events on a public computer marquee
  • Any other creative uses – the sky is the limit!

One such product that we at Basehor have used is by NuParadigm – there are other free RSS Screen Savers out there, and you may find one that you like better, but so far this one has worked out well for us.

Click below to see how!

Using the Event Calendar

You know you want to add events to your calendar, it’s easy as pie with the now built-in Event Calendar plugin. Let’s take a look at how it works!

The very first time you use it, you will need to set up the category you want to put your event posts in, and set a few settings depending on your preference.

Create the event category:

  1. Log into the administration console of your website (the Dashboard)
  2. Click “Manage”
  3. Click “Categories”
  4. Click “Add New”
  5. Enter the name of the category (Events, Library Events, Fun Events, whatever you like), don’t worry about the other fields.
  6. Click “Add Category”

The rest of the instructions after the jump!


Making Your Website Pop!

Jane Purcell, senior vice president of Advanced Access, a Web design and hosting firm in Anaheim Hills, California, says “I equate (having a good website) to a car. If you don’t put gas in it and get regular oil changes, it won’t perform for you. The same goes for the Web, where sites that aren’t useful or current do little good for their owners.”

That said, how do you make your site “pop?”

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Use strong headlines – Write engaging headlines that speak to the essential needs of your patrons, such as “Got Kids? Need a peaceful moment? Come to storytime!”
  2. Keep it up to date – there’s no point for your patrons to come to your website if there’s nothing new for them to look at. Keeping it updated at least every couple of weeks keeps your site fresh and interesting for patrons.
  3. Keep your information accurate – There’s nothing more frustrating than out of date content or bad links. Check your content every now and then, your patrons will thank you.
  4. Write patron centered copy – It’s their library, let them know that! Use you and your, instead of I and we.
  5. Write in an inverted-pyramid style – list what essential services your library provides first (the basics), and keep the details at the bottom. They’ll read down to the nitty gritty if they are really interested.
  6. Use small, context sensitive pictures in your posts – Not every post needs a photo or a graphic, but it can make your site look and feel a lot more fun. KLOW makes this easy as you can upload a photo to place on any post. You don’t have to use only photos, you can use royalty-free clip art as well (see the post below) to make a point or draw attention to a particular post.

I’m sure you have many ideas on what makes websites pop… what are your ideas?


Idea for post: What the director is reading

P.J. Capps, director of the Atchison Public Library has a great post on her KLOW site entitled “What the Library Director is Reading.” What a great way to get the community involved! She’s got a lively conversation going with her patrons about what she’s reading and what they are reading.

What other kinds of posts really get your patrons going?

Picking WordPress Themes for KLOW

Finding the right visual look for your website can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are many sites that host WordPress themes that are compatible with our system here. A few key words to look for when you are looking at a theme:

  • Widget ready – so you can drag and drop your widgets!
  • WordPress 2.0+ compatible (we’re using WordPress 2.0/2.1)
  • Available in a .zip file
  • Look for themes that aren’t too thematic or artistic. Sometimes it’s quite challenging to modify a theme to your specifications when it is very graphic intensive.
  • Stick to familiar layouts, 2, 3 and 4 column layouts all seem to work very well with not too much fuss.

Some sites to consider when looking at themess: – features themes that are widget ready – he tries to do a theme a day, and some are very good. – lets you search on particular criteria, such as color, widget ready, prominent colors, etc.

Have Fun!