The James V. Brown Library recently unveiled a new online calendar that it hopes not only will connect the community but showcase the many activities the city has to offer.
Connect Williamsport is a free online calendar that gives visitors and residents a "one-stop shop" for all of the latest local events.
"There's a couple of things that we really wanted to get out of this project. One is that we would have one source, one-stop shop of information for the entire community. But it would be information that would be relevant," said Barbara McGary, library executive director. "... And it also would be a really good planning tool for all of the organizations and businesses to look at tentative dates so (the community) didn't plan everything on the same night."
CRAIG S. McKIBBEN JR/Sun-Gazette
Dana Brigandi, project committee liaison for the connectwilliamsport.com website; Robin Glossner, James V. Brown Library development coordinator; and Sue Rider, administrative assistant to the director of the James V. Brown Library, look over the new community calendar at www.connectwilliamsport.com Monday morning in the rotunda at the library.
McGary explained that the idea for one came during an orientation for a new board member in 2011.
"She said, 'What this community really needs is a central place where people can go for information for events and it would also serve for families, for visitors and for community organizations as a planning tool,' " McGary said. "So we got a team together in leadership ... to talk about how we could make something like that happen."
In order to make the idea a reality, the library searched for funding possibilities. Under the direction of Robin Glossner, library development coordinator, the project was funded with federal Library Services and Technology Act funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered by the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. The grant was worth $50,000 and was supplied to the library for one year to create "an innovative project."
Once funding was secured and the website developer began creating the online calendar, it was time for the community to get involved, McGary said.
She explained that there have been community calendars for Williamsport in the past, but they were doomed by failing to build community partners to make it relevant.
The library looked to Dana Brigandi, project community liaison, to build those relationships, which McGary said was a "key" to its success.
"The key factor that we found was to find a community liaison to really go and connect with community partners and make it easy for community partners to put their information, or to have someone else put their information on the calendar," McGary said.
With the site now up, any community member can add an event to connectwilliamsport.com.
Any group - from for-profit businesses to non-profit organizations - is able to use the site for free. Although organizations aren't required to register to post an event, doing so allows them to see private events. Glossner explained it is a benefit to them so multiple donor or invite-only programs aren't scheduled on the same night.
Glossner added that as more people use the calendar, it will continue to be an asset to the community. She said the library needs to get the calendar's name into the community "so that people will see and think about Connect Williamsport first when they're thinking about what's going on here."
Although there isn't a smart phone application for the calendar, Glossner said the designers created it in a way that allows it to be used on any device, which was needed with technology so prevalent in today's society.
"Instead of building an app, they built a responsive design so that when you look at it, whatever device you're looking at it on, it optimizes the way it works for that device" Glossner said.
Brigandi said the calendar has many benefits to the community.
"There are so many wonderful things happening in the community and there wasn't any one place to go to find them. Connect Williamsport acts as a bridge to supplement the other sites out in the community and also makes it easier for families to find kid-friendly activities, college students to find bands and art exhibits, and visitors to see what they can expect when coming here," she said.