The West Bloomfield Township Public Library recently launched a new website. Victoria Edwards, pictured, was the project manager for the new website.

The West Bloomfield Township Public Library recently launched a new website. Victoria Edwards, pictured, was the project manager for the new website.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

WB library launches new website

$38K new website more mobile friendly, features pull-down menus, large search bar

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published January 6, 2024


WEST BLOOMFIELD — Those who have recently visited the West Bloomfield Township Public Library website probably noticed that it has a new look.

On Dec. 18, the library launched a new site, replacing the one that was originally designed in 2007.

“The new site is three components — we have a new website, and we also have a new catalog system and a new event calendar system,” said Victoria Edwards, the communications specialist for the library. “Part of it was that we knew we wanted to shift our catalog system over to something newer that was going to be more competitive with what patrons are used to seeing on a lot more commercial sites. So the new catalog system has a variety of formats all rolled up into one … kind of like Amazon, when you’re looking at an individual item and you can see it listed as a Kindle book, as a print book hardcover, all those kinds of things, all in the same listing.”

West Bloomfield Township Public Library Director Cathy Russ has been in her role for a little more than three years. Talk of a new website began before she arrived.

“The previous library director had wanted to do a new website, and it had been talked about, and then the pandemic came. And so everything was postponed, in terms of that project,” Russ said. “Once we got through the pandemic, I would say, towards middle 2021, end of 2021, we started talking about it in earnest, to make it finally happen. I’m glad that we’re finally here.”

Edwards started at the library in 2021, and she said that a new website was something that was discussed for as long as she has been there.

Like Russ, she said that she is glad that it has finally arrived.

“There’s so many nice things about the new website,” Edwards said. “I, personally, am really excited about the mobile-friendly features and the accessibility features on the new website. I’m also glad that we were able to have a more modern design, and I think it’s a lot more navigable. Patrons are going to have an easier time finding the resources that they’re looking for.”

According to Edwards, the cost of the new website was $38,200, with Stirling Brandworks coming in with the lowest bid proposal.

In an email, Edwards stated that Stirling Brandworks came with “glowing recommendations” from other public library clients.

She shared how the library receives its funds.

“At West Bloomfield, we’re operated by a separate millage, so most of our funding comes from property taxes. We also get some funds through state grants,” Edwards said.

Russ said the current total millage rate is 1.3257 mills. When calculating property taxes, 1 mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value.

From Russ’ perspective, the library’s new website is “cleaner” and easier to navigate.

“I think our previous website was very much of its time when it was originally designed, and things have changed,” she said. “People have gotten used to different looks, in terms of websites. I think our new website is more in line with what people see when they go to Amazon or other organizations’ websites. So, it’s more understandable to them, rather than having them navigate old technology.”

Judy Suter is on the board of the Friends of the West Bloomfield Township Library. She was asked to be part of a survey for the new website and spend time with developers prior to it being launched to the public.

From her perspective, the new website is a “million times” better than the previous one.

“I think it’s great for the end user, because there is a series of different pull-down menus,” Suter said. “If you’re a person that likes to just click and explore, like a map, and go around and see what’s there, there’s a way to do that. If you’re somebody that doesn’t like to explore and wants to get right where you are, there’s a search box that you can go into. There’s like three or four different ways to get to the same end result, which I think makes it very user-friendly for a very diverse population of people.”

Edwards was the project manager for the website transition. She discussed the biggest difference between the new website and the previous one.

“We were focused on designing it with users at the center,” Edwards said. “When you first look at our website, whether you’re looking at it on phone, tablet or a computer, you’re going to see a large search bar that goes directly to our catalog, because we know most people coming to our website want to look for a particular book, movie or title of some kind to see if we have it available. We’ve added some additional features as well to allow people to better discover some of our less well-known or newer collections. … I think it’s a lot easier to, with the new catalog system that we have, discover some of our e-resources.”

Edwards enjoyed being a part of the process to usher in a new website for the library. However, she wasn’t alone.

“It was a lot of fun to work on the design for this, and especially to incorporate patron feedback,” Edwards said. “We sent out a survey to our patrons, asking them for input on our current website, what they want to see from a new website, and we collected some feedback from our staff as well, and had a report compiling all the information that helped us decide on the direction of our website. … It was really interesting to see people engaging with our website and to know how people were using it.”

Although Edwards said that feedback has been positive, she understands that patrons who are used to the previous website may need some assistance navigating the new one.

“Change is hard, and we recognize that, so we do have tech one-on-one sessions available, so any patron can request to meet with our library staff,” she said. “They can just walk in for some general assistance, or if they want some more in-depth assistance with using the website, they can arrange a tech one-on-one appointment. We also have online tutorials.”

Edwards hopes that the new website is a hit with the community.

“I really hope that the new website meets our patrons’ needs,” she said. “We worked really hard to make sure we were keeping the community at the center of our design for the new website, and making sure that we were taking patrons’ feedback under advisement throughout the process, from beginning to end, so, hopefully, that comes through when people take a look at this.”

Russ shared some words of encouragement for community members who may have a challenging time navigating the new website.

“Any staff member, including me, is able to help if anybody has any issues or trouble or has questions,” she said. “This is what we are here for; so, we want you to use it, like it and understand it so you can continue to do all the things you’re used to doing from the library website. So don’t give up on anything. Let us know.”

The library’s website address is