OneNet and Oklahoma Department of Libraries Come Together to Support Rural Communities
Public libraries are a vital resource for rural Oklahoma’s communities, but many of our state’s small libraries face a challenge in sharing their resources with their patrons. Staffing and budget limits make it difficult for these libraries to create and maintain a website.
OneNet is helping solve that challenge by providing affordable hosting services for a unique program offered by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL). With OneNet’s help ODL is making it possible for our state’s rural libraries to connect with their communities through the web.
ODL’s Office of Library Development created the Model Library Website Program (MLWP), in 2008 to help fill the void for rural communities across our state. This program connects rural libraries to the outside world, but most importantly to the communities they serve.
“This program is beneficial because it allows rural libraries that would not normally be able to have a website, create and maintain one,” ODL’s Web Content Director Michael O’Hasson said.
OneNet provides a dedicated server for this program. ODL pays a flat rate for the year, and they are able to host as many websites for rural libraries as they see fit. This means no cost to public libraries and minimal cost to the agency.
ODL offers eight different website templates for librarians to choose from. Once they choose a template and are set up with a web address, they receive training on maintaining and updating the website. This eliminates the cost of hosting, maintaining and posting that otherwise the libraries would have to pay out of their limited budgets. In fact, many libraries had no budget at all to support a website; now, they simply contact ODL to set up one.
This program currently serves nearly 50 different libraries across rural Oklahoma. In addition, 15 are scheduled to go online when ODL switches from an Adobe Content Managing System to WordPress. This switch is going to make the websites even easier for librarians to manage.
The greatest benefit MLWP provides is the improved access to information and resources for the communities the libraries serve. With a library website, the community is able to view the calendar of events, read news and announcements about library services and often even access a catalog of books. This is vital to rural communities, because it gives them the opportunity to take advantage of all the libraries have to offer.
The infrastructure OneNet provides allows ODL to create sites, bring them live and maintain them as simply as possible. In addition, OneNet also takes care of ongoing security, which greatly benefits ODL and library participants, saving them time and money when issues occur.
In addition to hosting the MLWP websites, ODL also hosts several other websites, blogs and wikis on three OneNet servers. Currently, their most popular site is their blog for children and young adult librarians. This blog has tips and tricks, a podcast and other features unique for these librarians.
While the ODL staff appreciates the ease and affordability of OneNet’s services, they also know they can depend on OneNet for the customer service they need to keep the program running.
“I know if I call OneNet, not only will my request get done, but it will get done right,” O’Hasson said. “The customer service is excellent. I’ve never had any problems, ever, at OneNet.”
OneNet takes pride in the customer service we provide to each of our customers. A feature unique to OneNet is complimentary email with any website we host. Recently the staff at ODL found themselves in a bind, needing an extensive email list that was connected to a website they hosted with us. The website did not have email set up to the domain name. We were able to set up email for ODL in a short time. O’Hasson says this would not have happened as quickly with a different service provider.
“The biggest benefit of being a OneNet customer is that everyone has a real service attitude,” O’Hasson said.
When ODL moved their servers to OneNet, O’Hasson expected the process to take anywhere from seven to 10 days. OneNet’s team worked diligently and finished the project in just two and a half days.
“Everything ran as smooth as possible because of the diligence and concentration of the OneNet staff,” O’Hasson said. “A complicated process going so smoothly is just one more instance of OneNet’s great service.”
OneNet is committed to advancing technology across the state of Oklahoma, and our partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Libraries helps us do just that. Whether it’s affordable rates on servers, outstanding customer service or value-added services, we help ODL reach Oklahoma’s rural communities.
“I’m a big fan of OneNet,” O’Hasson said. “Sometimes, I think they are Oklahoma’s best kept secret.”
—Story and Photos by Katie Kastl, OneNet Outreach Intern, Fall 2013
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OneNet Outreach Coordinator