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NYLA-SMART News & Notes Fall 2008

NYLA-SMART News & Notes Fall 2008

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Published by: libraronin on Sep 12, 2008
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2Search Engine Optimi-zation at Your Library!*Marcy A. Strong
By Catalog Librarian at BinghamtonUniversity 
Search engine use is one of themost popular online activities. A Pew Internet & AmericanLife report noted that 84% of adult Internet users (about 108million Americans) have usedsearch engines to find informa-tion on the web. Universitystudents in particular show apreponderance toward searchengines. For example, a recentOCLC report, Perceptions of 
and Information Re-sources, found that 89% of col-lege students started their elec-tronic research using a searchengine while less than 2% startedfrom a library website. Whenasked why they didn’t use thelibrary website, approximately15% of students reported thatthey didn’t know the library hada website. In almost all in-stances, when asked about fa-miliarity, satisfaction and worthi-ness, students rated library web-sites lower than search engines.Librarians, concerned thatlibrary services and resources arebeing bypassed, have adoptedinnovative reference, instructionand outreach services in an at-tempt to lure students away fromsearch engines. However, despitethese efforts it is unlikely thatlibraries will replace search en-gines as the preferred informa-tion source. While this maysound bleak, there is hope. In-stead of viewing search enginesas competition, libraries can em-ploy search engine optimizationstrategies to make their servicesand resources more visible on theweb. Search engine optimizationor SEO is the practice of im-proving ranking on search en-gine result pages and also in-creasing targeted traffic to awebsite. Broadly speaking, SEOactivities include adhering to ac-cessibility standards, providing descriptive HTML title tags andmetatags, creating search-enginefriendly text and ensuring thatthe site architecture allows foreasy indexing by search engines. While SEO is regularly used bycommercial websites, the prac-tice of optimizing websites hasnot yet been embraced by librar-ies. This is alarming becausewhile other sites get better atmaking their content accessible,library websites will be left be-hind.Binghamton University Li-braries recently embarked on anSEO pilot project and tried op-timizing selected library webpages to determine if SEO prac-tices do result in higher usage.Despite having little knowledgeof SEO theory and practice, li-brarians used key resources toaid them in developing and im-plementing SEO strategies. Tohear the results of the study andfind out how you can optimize your library’s web pages, be sureto check out the SMART session“Get noticed! Search engine op-timization” at the NYLA Con-ference.
“Instead of viewing searchengines as competition,libraries can employ searchengine optimization strate-gies to make their servicesand resources more visibleon the web.”
*Adapted from the forthcoming article:
Rushton, Erin E., Martha Daisy Kelehan, and Marcy A. Strong. “Searching for a new way to reach patrons: a search engine optimization pilot project at BinghamtonUniversity Libraries.” Journal of Web Librarianship 2.4 (2008)
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The SMART Section is very pleased to welcome Professor James Hendler as our Rudi Weiss lecturer atthis year’s NYLA Conference. Professor Hendler is the Tetherless World Senior Constellation Chair atRensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has been integral in the development of the World Wide Web aswe know it, and has most recently lent his skill and insight to the development of the Semantic Web. Asa member of the W3C’s Semantic Web Coordination Group, Professor Hendler is in a unique positionto introduce to us the concepts and technologies behind the Semantic Web. He will also give us a senseof how libraries can participate in the development of this powerful new technology and how our serv-ices and patrons will benefit from those development efforts. Please join us (Broadway 1, Thursday at2:30pm) for this thought-provoking lecture on the future of the Web.
Rudi Weiss Lecture: The Semantic Web withJim HendlerKathryn Frederick
Systems Librarian, Lucy Scribner Library, Skidmore College
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