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BCL WoW - Broward County Library Without Walls

Broward County Library
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Innovation Summary

In October 2011, Broward County Library launched BCL WoW – Broward County Library Without Walls, a marketing/rebranding campaign to promote the library’s enhanced online and electronic resources and support the December 2011 launch of Broward County Library’s mobile app, also called BCL WoW – Broward County Library Without Walls.

Innovation Leader: Stephen Grubb, E-services Manager, sgrubb@browardlibrary.org

Problem Statement

After facing budget cutbacks during the recent economic downturn, it was essential for Broward County Library to evolve to meet the changing needs of its customers. According to the CTIA (Wireless Industry Association), there are now more mobile devices than people. With the expectation of information on demand, it was imperative that Broward County Library face the challenge of competition in today’s information-based world and examine new ways to provide services. Broward County Library has 37 brick-and-mortar locations throughout Broward County, so residents of Broward can be assured of numerous choices if they need to visit a library. However, our increasingly mobile society has changed the expectations of library customers. More people now use smart phones and tablets to access library services. According to a recent Nielsen Survey, 40% of cell phone users now have a smart phone. In a 2011 Prosper Mobile survey, 56% of those with a smart phone prefer using their phone to access the Internet. A paradigm shift is occurring, and Broward County Library must keep up in order to remain viable. To attract new customers and best serve existing customers, repackaging and marketing the library’s electronic services into one, easy-to-use, cohesive bundle was essential. The “package” needed to be user friendly with a fresh, enticing identity. Dubbed BCL WoW – Broward County Library Without Walls, this concept would include a one-stop web site portal page that allows customers to access the Library’s electronic resources quickly and easily as well as a new, free mobile app. With the mobile app, also called BCL WoW – Broward County Library Without Walls, anyone with a smart phone could now tap into library services and features anywhere, anytime.

Innovation

Broward County Library launched its marketing/rebranding campaign, BCL WoW – Broward County Library Without Walls on November 8, 2011. BCL WoW provides library customers with a one-stop concept that gathers the Library’s online resources, including its new free mobile app, also called BCL WoW, into one easy online location. Brainstorming began in September 2011; the campaign kicked off in October 2011. Digital outreach efforts began. Posters with QR codes that allow access to 34,000 free downloadable books, courtesy of Broward County Library, were placed in Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, the Central Bus Terminal in downtown Fort Lauderdale and Port Everglades. Plans for the mobile app began one year prior; due to a lack of funding the Library was unable to enter into a licensing/usage agreement until fiscal year 2011. It was decided that the app would also be launched under BCL WoW. The first step was visual. A sunburst logo with BCL WoW in bright blue, orange and green block letters was designed. Photographs of culturally diverse individuals engaged in activities that utilized BCL WoW are displayed, and short phrases such as “Download Books, Music” remind users what they can do on the site. The BCL WoW web page was then created, which offers access to all the library’s online/virtual resources via the BCL WoW page. From one portal, users can download free music and books, access their library account; browse the catalog, receive language instruction, job coaching or free live tutoring, find library events, ask reference questions, view the library’s digital collections and download the library’s free mobile app, BCL WoW, the Tutor.com To Go™ app or the Byki Mobile language-learning app. Additionally, access is provided to the Overdrive Media Console, where customers can browse, download and read eBooks from Broward County Library directly to mobile devices.

Progress

The launch of BCL WoW – Broward County Library had immediate result that led to a major increase in web traffic for Broward County Library’s website. During the three-month period of October-December 2011, there were a total of 27 million hits, up from 22 million hits during October-December 2010, an overall increase of 81% or five million additional hits. Recent statistics indicate this trend is continuing, as March 2012 saw an increase of 64% more page hits than March 2011. The rebranding also impacted the December 2011 debut of the BCL WoW mobile app, which was downloaded and used by 1,800 customers in its first month alone. In January 2012, over 3,000 customers used the app. Success of these efforts has also resulted in an increase of subscribers to the library’s social media, including a doubling of the amount of Broward County Library’s Twitter followers since January 2011. BCL WoW – Broward County Library Without Walls has increased both awareness and use of Broward County Library’s online resources. BCL WoW – Broward County Library Without Walls was featured in Broward County’s 2011 Annual Report, showcased as the launch of Broward County’s “virtual library.” A press release was sent out in October 2011 announcing the launch of BCL WoW and another was distributed in December 2011 to publicize the BCL WoW – Broward County Library Without Walls mobile app. As a result of these press releases, the Sun-Sentinel, a local newspaper serving the South Florida area, ran a December 2, 2011 article announcing the new mobile app. Additionally, BCL WoW has attracted media attention and publicity for Broward County Library. An April 9 article in PC Magazine on “How Libraries Remain Relevant” mentions BCL WoW’s innovative use of QR codes and other technology to bring library services to unconventional locations: http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow/story/296361/national-library-week-how-libraries-remain-relevant .