I have always been a fan of physical book displays – the curbside appeal and visual cues, as well as the thoughtful content selected to populate the display. Book displays allow library staff to be creative yet considerate, to highlight content that may be a hot item or perhaps a title that has not had its pages’ turned often.  Book displays can be colorful and have props, or a handful of stands and a single sign signifying the ‘theme’ of the display. No matter the type of book display, it has been theorized that displays help circulate content. But, how does one create a book display to highlight downloadable content?

This is the same question that I asked myself when tasked with taking the lead of our OverDrive Advantage eBook collection – how do I showcase content in our Advantage eBook collection so the Sandusky Library patrons know that it is available to download and enjoy? I started my quest like any other librarian, I researched (and researched some more…), I collaborated with others, and finally had my ‘ah-ha’ moment – I’ll create a website which will display all of the content that we have to offer as well as ‘how-to’ guides to help patrons get started with the OverDrive service. But I have one slight problem… I am not a web designer and make no claim to be one. Oh, and I do not have a budget to support this project…

After much collaborating and further research, a good friend of mine recommended a free website builder that utilized Flash web designing – Wix.com. After exploring the Wix.com website for a bit and seeing their tag line – “Drag & Drop. No programming. Search engine friendly,” I was sold. The setup of the website was pretty simplistic in nature; it literally was a ‘drag & drop’ website builder which made the website developing experience less stressful and a time saver.

From here, Wix.com allows the user to hyperlink the photos uploaded to the gallery. I used this feature to link the jacket covers directly to their Content Details page at the CLEVNET OverDrive-powered website. This functionality reduced the amount clicking the end-user would have to experience before checking out and downloading the title. I took this a step further and rather than using the standard link (something along the lines of – http://dlc.clevnet.org/ContentDetails.htm?id={F750E2CA-2D38-4CC8-A74D-0517751CD2C9}) I used a URL shortener, www.bitly.com, so I could track how many times a patron clicked on each jacket cover at the Wix.com website. As a side note – bitly.com allows account users to track the shortened link analytics. Using this data, I then logged into Content Reserve (an OverDrive administrative tool available to generate reports regarding the digital collection) to view how many jacket cover clicks were converted into actual checkouts. I used this process as a measure of success, as well as the data produced by the general eBook circs and Advantage eBook circs available in Content Reserve.

Figure 1 – Using the Wix.com website builder, the developer has the opportunity to hyperlink the photos seen in the scrolling collections.

The remaining content at the website was primarily generated by first-hand knowledge and with the assistance of the OverDrive ‘My Help!’ portal.

We launched the website for the public (as well as the staff) to use on Friday, July 1st. We choose July 1st so we could track the eBook circulation for a full month, which included a holiday weekend. We added links to the website at the main Sandusky Library website and our Facebook page to begin generating traffic to the Wix.com website.

In the beginning of July we saw the eBook circulation steadily increase. On Friday, July 1st there were 30 eBook checkouts, followed by 21 on Saturday, July 2nd, 41 on Sunday, July 3rd and 22 on Monday, July 4th. When comparing these numbers to June, the eBook circulation had already increased, but at this point July circulation was down 6%. We continued to promote the eBook collection and the Wix.com any way we could including linking to the website through Facebook status updates and adding a small blurb to the main Sandusky Library website.

As pages on the July calendar turned, we saw the eBook circulation numbers continue to climb. By July 28th, we finally surpassed the June 2011 eBook circulation (745) by five checkouts and still had four days remaining in the month. For the month of July, we ended with 866 eBook checkouts – which turned out to be a record breaking month!

Figure 2 – Sandusky Library eBook Circulation Analysis – January 2009 to July 2011

It was exciting to generate the final eBook circulation report using OverDrive’s Content Reserve portal. The final July eBook circulation report confirmed that not only had the Sandusky Library eBook circulation increased and was the highest eBook circulating month ever, but the Sandusky Library Advantage collection also saw exponential growth.

Figure 3 – Progression of Sandusky Library’s Advantage eBook Collection – January 2010 to July 2011

By the end of July 2011, Sandusky Library experienced 866 eBook checkouts which was a 13% increase from June 2011, and a 22% increase since January 2011.

Based on these statistics alone, it is clear that merchandising the Sandusky Library eBook collection helped increase circulation. The Wix.com website is still live and we continue to refresh the jacket covers in the scrolling collections so patrons can experience new content when they visit the website.

You can visit the Sandusky Library/OverDrive tutorial website at: http://www.wix.com/sanduskylibadv/ebooks.

Sam Chada is the Emerging Technologies Librarian for the Sandusky Library, a member of CLEVNET. Sandusky Library is the Online Category Winner for the 2011 Outreach Program Contest.

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