One the great things about libraries are the events some hold, be it author talks, workshops or movies. Unfortunately I’ve been rather disappointed by the way events are presented on most library sites. Some don’t even feature or list them on the homepage which is a shame. There are some other things I think would be nice or just possibilities.
iCal and RSS
Many are starting to use blog software so have RSS but few have iCal. MSU Libraries recently migrated to using the campus event calendar which adds those features. If your university has an events calendar you might see if you can create a sub-calender for your events. If you use Wordpress I believe there are a few plugins that allow you to assign posts to a specific date and will create iCal feeds for you.
While your adding iCal support you might as well add hCalendar.
Use External Sites and APIs
Links to Google Calendar shouldn’t be hard, but I think it would be nice to go the extra step of using things like the Upcoming API (one example) to post event information on external sites like upcoming.org. You could potentially use upcoming.org as your events manager and then use the iCal files or API to put the events on your site. Another bonus is it’s integration with Flickr using machine tags. If you store the upcoming ID locally you could probably pull in the images to your events site using the Flickr API. Flickr and Upcoming are just two examples, there are quite a few event sites out there.
While I never really got into using Twitter (probably because I wasn’t really interested in what others were doing), I think it might have potential here. I’m sure you already know but the description for twitter is:
A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?
While some libraries are posting their RSS to twitter I think it probably makes more sense to post events and post soon before they happen. So say 15-20 minutes before an event starts you have a message sent to twitter saying its about to start and maybe another saying its starting. If I’m walking around town, get an SMS that something is starting, I can think about stopping in. Seems semi-more useful then just posting random news.
While probably not as easy as the above, it would be nice to see more events featured on catalog pages if they are related. For example author talks or signings. You could probably extend it to subjects if you have a lot of workshops. If you have pictures or video of an author talk, why not link or embed it in the catalog page (while trying not to make the view too busy). Of course you can link to holdings on the event page as well.
And since we’re on multimedia it would be nice if more talks were digitized (rights permitted of course) and available online. You not only let those who couldn’t make it see it, you also show what kind of services your library is providing that people might not be aware of.
Overall I think there is plenty of room for improvement and events might be an overlooked area with all of the talk on the catalog. If you have any ideas, feel free to share.