Community Web site awarded

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The Web community managed by Bud Werner Memorial Library, Yampavalley.info, has won a national award.

Yampavalley.info was recognized in March by WebJunction, an online portal for library staffers. The award was given because of Yampavalley.info's success in "building digital opportunity through community engagement."

Recently, Yampavalley.info received the grand prize for Web sites sponsored by North American libraries, Bud Werner reference services librarian Alysa Selby said.

"It's the people in the community who make it work," she said. "There's no way the library, with a (Web) staff of one, could make this work. But a staff of one can offer it to the community."

Yampavalley.info provides free Web training and hosting for community organizations. Several hundred volunteers and staffers are involved in maintaining the various sites at Yampavalley.info.

WebJunction was created in 2002 through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The intent of the organization is to provide open access to information. Its members are working to improve access to the Web in developing nations as well as in countries where computer availability is not a problem.

Yampavalley.info has logged more than 1 million hits since it was created in 2002. It serves as a giant Internet tent that provides a Web presence for a large number of community organizations that couldn't otherwise afford the necessary resources. Selby said Yampavalley.info was based on a handful of templates that ensure people without a background in Web-page building can easily learn to update a nonprofit's Web presence. She has presided over beginning and advanced Web workshops attended by hundreds of staffers and volunteers in the valley.

Lane Malone of Partners in Routt County said her organization's Web page within Yampavalley.info has helped it find new collaborators in its efforts to match mature adults with youngsters who need a mentor.

"Being part of a hub of community communication has been really beneficial," Malone said. "Yampavalley.info is so userfriendly, enhancing and modifying our site has been fun and easy. The only limiting factor is time."

Malone said Selby goes a step beyond training during her free workshops and actually helps community organizations make real enhancements to their Web pages.

"I couldn't recommend it enough," Malone said.

Yampavalley.info offers a wide range of information about institutions in the valley. Subjects include Routt County's history, local governments, schools, health and human service organizations and business. People can learn about cultural events, natural resources, agriculture and the environment. It offers a community calendar, public forum and GIS maps.

One of the strengths of Yampavalley.info, Selby said, is the many hundreds of links in and out of the site. Those links automatically ensure Yampavalley.info "floats" to the top of search-engine lists. That, in turn, virtually eliminates the need to spend resources on optimizing the site for search engines.

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