In 2018, visitors to the Central Arkansas Library System's (CALS) website will encounter a fresh look and easier navigation, with integrated e-commerce and online meeting room reservations. The library has set February 2018 as the target to go live with its new site.
CALS has selected Few, a Little Rock design and development firm, to redesign the library's digital properties and visual brand. The project will also include the integration of new sites for many of CALS's programs and affiliates, including the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, the Friends of Central Arkansas Libraries (FOCAL), the CALS Foundation, the Arkansas Literary Festival, River Market Books & Gifts, and the Ron Robinson Theater. The result will be single visual identity for CALS and its affiliates, including 14 branch locations throughout Central Arkansas.
Nate Coulter, executive director of CALS, said the project reflects the library's commitment to harnessing technology to ensure that CALS is a trusted source for learning, entertainment, and personal enrichment for the 350,000 Arkansans living in the library's service area.
"CALS is by almost any measure a very comprehensive public library. In addition to books, digital downloads of eBooks, magazines, and music, we frequently offer entertainment at our theater and branches, as well as lifelong learning opportunities everywhere," said Coulter. "This website redesign and rebranding will help ensure the relevant CALS programs and resources are better known and more readily accessible to our patrons."
Holders of CALS library cards have access to free eBooks, movies, and digital music that can be borrowed through the website. Coulter said the redesigned site will make it "much easier" to find and use these free library resources.
The redesign of CALS's website and the rebranding of its digital properties is an outgrowth of a communications audit the library conducted in 2016. One of the audit's findings was that visitors to CALS's website often expressed frustration with the website's lack of appeal, user-friendliness, and effectiveness. In addition to the website overhaul, recommendations included rebranding the library system to accurately reflect the culture and personality of CALS and its patrons. The redesigned site will include an updated events calendar, integrated e-commerce, online meeting room reservations, and an overall simplified and more visually appealing user experience.
"People increasingly seek information online," said Coulter. "This means that for many, the website is the ‘front door' for CALS. We want a friendlier welcome mat there, one with more helpful prompts to get visitors to what they need as quickly as possible."
Few was awarded the web redesign contract after responding to CALS's request for proposal (RFP) released in April 2017. After selecting Few, CALS hired the firm for additional branding work.
In coming weeks, Few will engage with CALS stakeholders, including patrons, library personnel, and board members, as a part of the development and discovery process. An online survey will be disseminated via CALS's email distribution list and will also be available at www.cals.org.
Few CEO Zack Hill said the project is important to his firm because of the value of CALS to Little Rock and Central Arkansas. "Few is excited to be involved in this project because CALS is one of our community's most important resources," Hill said. "Our goal is to unify the library's overall brand and to bring it to life through the web."
CALS includes 14 branch libraries located in Little Rock, Perryville and Pulaski County. Most of its more than one million items may be reserved online and picked up at any branch that is convenient to the patron. CALS's downtown Little Rock campus includes the Ron Robinson Theater, the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and the Cox Creative Center. CALS has the largest research collection in central Arkansas.
Few is a Little Rock design and development firm serving local and national clients. The company hosts the annual "Made by Few" conference and "Designed by Few" competition that annually attract creative professionals, developers, and entrepreneurs from around the world.