Ector County Library website launching

November 21, 2017 GMT

With some help from several organizations, a group of University of Texas of the Permian Basin students has updated the Ector County Library website to make it more visually appealing and user friendly.

To be launched in December, the website also will offer easier visitor navigation, an accessible calendar of events, graphic layout and automatic resize to accommodate any screen size and resolution, a news release said.

A news conference to unveil the new look was held Nov. 14 in the library auditorium.

The website was made possible through the efforts of the Odessa Book Club, Creative Marketing Nerds and students from a 2016 senior-level professional writing course led by Myra Salcedo at UTPB.

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The Odessa Book Club provided a $1,375 monetary donation towards the new site.

Creative Marketing Nerds — approached and engaged for the project by UTPB students — provided an in-kind donation of $3,750 for their development of the new website and staff training. Abel Nunez was the website developer.

The team from UTPB included seniors Lauren Barnes, Omar Garcia and Michelle Mathews, led by team leader Jay Estrada. The rest of the class soon joined in providing input including Kandice Hargreaves, Howard Marks, Elizabeth Rugutt and Daisy Ruiz.

Marty Hinson, treasurer of the Odessa Book Club, said the book club formed in 1936, and from the start, members wanted to encourage reading and literacy. She noted that the first library, established in 1938, was on the site of the first Ector County Jail.

Salcedo noted that the website project was student led and student drive. It was done during a five-week period in the summer of 2016.

“The library’s been around for about 78 years, so it is a huge resource for this community and it was so difficult when we started looking at websites to navigate it,” Mathews said. “I know that when you’re trying to get information, if it’s difficult then you get frustrated and give up. Those community services are too valuable to just throw away like that.”

“The library plays too big a part in our community as a whole as far as literacy, children’s services (and) places to go for computer training. It’s just a huge resource and when you can’t access it, especially for people that are not really tech savvy, it forces people away … and it’s just a detriment to the community.”

Mathews said the rejuvenated site, which will be tweaked along the way, is beautiful.

“It’s wonderful. It’s so much easier to find what you’re looking for. You know immediately what you’re looking at, where you’re going to go and what you’re going to find. It’s a wonderful job,” Mathews said.

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She added that she was so glad Estrada found Nunez and said he did the research on who to select.

Nunez, with Creative Marketing Nerds, said the aim was to make the website highly visual.

“And we’re just getting started. There’s a ton of photography on the way. We have a plan to start producing some videos to help them promote what they offer here — the resources they have at the library — and also to engage audiences of different ages,” Nunez said.

Salcedo said she was very impressed with her students and that they were an agent for charge in the community.

She added that the students pulled so much together such as finding grant sources, someone to donate website development time and they wrote lengthy white papers that went point by point on what could be fixed.

“They just invested themselves into the project, and in five weeks they created a mountain of work. I was amazed,” Salcedo said.

She added that this was her first time teaching professional writing. Salcedo said the students could write a grant or create pamphlets for a nonprofit agency, but urged them to do something that mattered.

“Since I had some high-tech people in the class, they said let’s look at websites and so they came up with that idea to do the website. It went above and beyond by finding a way to fund it, knowing the library probably could not afford $4,000 to go out because that was the average price people were giving them for what they were asking,” Salcedo said.

Howard Marks, director of the J. Conrad Dunagan Library at UTPB, said the website has been transformed. Marks said it could potentially bring in more patrons and help re-establish the library as a central community library again.

Melanie Sartor, an information technology tech at the library, said the institution wanted to spruce up its website for years, but there were different reasons it could not. It just became possible in the last few years to think about the endeavor.

Sartor said it was exciting, but a little scary to have the new website.

“It was my baby forever, so I’m having to let my baby grow up and go,” she said.