|By Michelle Symington|
MetroWest Reminder Assistant Editor
WESTFIELD The Westfield Atheneaum recently launched a brand new website that library officials view as a one-stop shopping place for Westfield information.
Library officials launched the website on Feb. 20 with a soft opening and decided to begin to promote it more during National Library Week April 2 through 8.
Christopher Lindquist, director of the Westfield Athenaeum, explained that the old website, which was developed about five years ago, was outdated and needed to be revamped.
He said the idea to create a new website came up about a year ago, a committee was formed and the new website was developed over a three to four month period.
Lindquist thought it would be great to launch the new site during National Library Week and said it is serendipitous that the library was able to do so.
The website was developed by Extra Mile Design, a company that has developed a number of award-winning library sites, according to Lindquist. The website was funded by a grant from the Westfield Academy, a local organization that supports local non-profit agencies.
Lindquist described the new website as "user friendly, functional, attractive and ... we like to think of it as a 'Google' for Westfield."
He said the new site contains information about local history, library materials, library programs and community events.
"It was developed out of a total look at the community," he said, adding that they looked into both the needs of the community as a whole and the needs of the Athenaeum and its customers.
"I think it is something people will want to come back to revisit," he said, adding he hopes members of the community will put the website in their "favorites."
Lindquist explained that the new website is broken down into two sections browse and explore.
The browse section offers immediate information, such as library events, online databases, new materials or reserve museum passes. The explore section offers parents and children the chance to explore a variety of resources such as suggested books to read, games and puzzles, test preparation and activities.
"We will be developing new content almost daily," Lindquist said.
One of the sections of the website that Lindquist is most excited about is BookLetters.
He explained that members of the community can sign up for newsletters that will tell them about the newest fiction, mystery, romance, non-fiction or science fiction books that are released.
The newsletters will automatically be sent to the subscribers' e-mail and will keep them updated on the best books in each genre, Lindquist said.
"It will be a great time saver for people," he said, adding that he has already signed up himself.
The website also allows library patrons to look up records on the items they have checked out, renew items or place them on hold.
"All they need is their library card," Lindquist said, adding that patrons can access the library 24/7. "We see it as an extension of the library."
There is also a portion of the website that allows patrons to search the catalog for library materials, a portion where people can suggest items for the library to purchase and a form people can fill out to become a library volunteer. Lindquist said there is also a new area on the site where people can make donations online to support the library.
Lindquist said there is also a link at the bottom of the homepage to other organizations and non-profit agencies in the area. He said he would be happy to add a link for any interested organization.
"It is very fun and attractive," he said. "I thank Extra Mile Design for the website design and Westfield Academy for funding the website," Lindquist said.
The new website address is the same and can be found at www.westath.org.