Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MPL Staff Portal

Well, I noted within one of my Reference Renaissance write-ups that I was inspired to create - and I have!

Last week I officially launched the MPL Staff Portal. Here is a blurb from the main page of the site:

"This portal is for us - the staff, to keep up on changes happening around the library. Please add this site to your favorites and check back often! (You can also subscribe to portal changes - once subscribed, you will receive email updates.)

All of our library staff information will be posted on this portal - if you have something to add please lets us know. This is a work in progress; please explore the portal, post announcements, make comments, etc."


I developed the site with Google Sites; so many of us at the library have Gmail that I knew it would be easy to limit access to gmail invites. Now, I just have to train the reminder of staff! I created accounts for a couple of complete tech newbies, letting them know that they can change their password at any time if they'd like. We are also forwarding our library emails into our gmail; this makes it easy for all staff to keep up on different email accounts in one place.

A Place for Staff to Share News

The Staff Portal has different pages for many aspects of library information updates, and this is especially important for our library, as we are all part-time - many of us do not see some staff except at the weekly staff meeting.

I created different pages for the following categories:

  • Circulation,
  • Technology,
  • Official Library Announcements,
  • Policies,
  • Original Forms,
  • a Staff Directory,
  • Employee Info,
  • Databases,
  • and even a 'Happy Hour' discussion board where we can share non-work related items.

Setting up the site was easy; I made a few mistakes along the way (the 'delete page' button is a good thing), and finished up with a great template with which to begin.

Staff Interaction

Some of the pages were straightforward, and I needed little or no input to set up. Obviously, the tech page (my department) was the easiest for me; I created a place for tech announcements and places for staff to ask questions and report equipment problems. Some pages, like Circulation, are a different story. I have an idea of what circ staff may need; however, since this is a staff site, the Circ Manager will be working with her staff to create content for the page.

RSS Notification

A great benefit of using Google Sites is the ease with which staff can receive notice of changes and additions to the site. Google enables RSS page subscriptions and site subscriptions; at this point, staff is required to subscribe to the entire site. Once subscribed, staff receives email notifications - with the entire text included! Some staff that were leery of having to learn 'one more thing' are happy that they don't have to visit the site all the time. Once the Staff Portal is 'old hat' and the staff is used to getting instant announcements, more of the staff will want to visit the site and interact with comments and posts.

Wiki Format

In the initial stages, our site is more static, and I will be working with the different departments to physically post content. However, Google Sites also has the capability to act as a wiki. Depending on the permissions enabled, participants in any Google Site can 'Collaborate' or 'View'. Collaborators have the ability to create new pages and edit all content - just like any other wiki. Viewers can read all content and make comments on it.

I'll Keep You Posted

Our Staff Portal is obviously in the beginning stages. I'll be making periodic posts to let you know how everything is going!