The Open Access Project

Matt Pascoe

Western Downs Libraries

Western Downs Libraries enjoy great community support and currently count a significant proportion of the region's citizens as members of the library. We use our newsletter, website, Facebook page and on-site marketing to keep those members up to date on what our library service can do to help, entertain and enrich their life experiences.

But recently we started wondering about those members of the community who weren't members of the library and who mightn't naturally consider searching the library when looking for help in their personal journeys of education and self-improvement.

We started to ask, what we could do to connect non-library members with the excellent, high-value resources that we could deliver to them, for free. With that in mind, we decided to look at developing a project to specifically assist the visibility and discoverability of our recently acquired catalogue of online learning courses.

The Open Access Project was the name we gave our plan to increase the reach of this great range of resources beyond the traditional boundaries of the library and to make them accessible to anyone using a search engine.

We created a network of several thousand "Landing Pages" which are essentially single purpose web pages that offer a preview video, pertinent information and a prominent and direct call to action for each one of our online courses.

The landing pages were built with an emphasis on following best practice in Search Engine Optimisation, Open Graph meta-tag descriptions, modern marketing strategic design and social media integration.

As a result of following these standards our resources are now fully available on the web outside of the usual Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), but more importantly following these practices means the material now all rank very highly in search engines when combined with our locality eg searching for "Learn how to code in the Western Downs", "SQL courses in Western Downs" etc. Additionally, using Social Media integration in the discovery system means that there is another layer of visibility for non-library members when the resource landing pages are shared through Facebook and Twitter, again outside of the usual library environment. Running the The Open Access Project to catalogue our materials has created new channels for resource discovery and by sharing awareness of the library we now have the best chance of connecting so many more people with the tools they need to become who they want to be.