Library Associations Are Not Masters Of Their Domain

What is the value of owning a simple domain name? By that I mean owning as a domain name a popular single word such as chocolate, music or beer – or library. It can actually be enormously profitable. The business of snapping up simple names, turning them into domains and then building portal or retail sites around them is the topic of an article in the June 25 issue of BusinessWeek magazine. It profiles two businessmen who acquire single name domains where one usually finds a generic, and not very useful, web site. They then turn the site into a snazzy and informative center for one-stop shopping that represents all things related to that topic.

That got me thinking about the domain for the word library. First, who owns it, second, what’s there, and third, what could it be that it currently isn’t. Not that I was surprised, but I discovered that neither the domain for library.com or library.org is owned by ALA or any library assocation. Library.com is owned by a company that sells products to libraries and library.org is the exact type of generic site discussed in the article. While library.com may be hard to get, it seems that library.org is ripe for the taking. Think about it. Doesn’t it seem appropriate that anyone who goes to a domain named library.com or library.org should get taken to a site sponsored by the premier library organization. And the result shouldn’t be a redirect trip to www.ala.org. That’s for librarians. What we need to provide is a site that is all about libraries, with appropriate links to the best resources, but is geared to the public end user.

Why is this important? Research tells us that one in six Internet searchers never use a search box. They opt instead for typing their single word into the address bar of the browser. The goal is to get directly to a site that will be a starting point for information on that topic. We may not approve of that search strategy, but that’s what people do. From the domain owner’s perspective it’s a way to capture a huge number of searchers. So I’m recommending that ALA and our other professional library associations give some serious thought to buying up the library domains (both com and org), and then turning them into serious portals about libraries and librarians. This isn’t about making a big profit. It’s about creating awareness and capturing an opportunity to make a difference.

5 thoughts on “Library Associations Are Not Masters Of Their Domain

  1. library.info seems like a natural, too.

    I’d say it’s even more natural except I don’t think that top-level domain has taken off so much yet. Which is perhaps an even better reason to claim it.

  2. You’re assuming that, if ALA bought such a domain, it would do a worthwhile job of building the kind of site you’re describing in the first place. Given http://www.ilovelibraries.org, which as far as I can tell is ALA’s attempt to do just that, I wouldn’t bet money on them doing it well.

    For example, look at this [sarcasm]super-informative[/sarcasm] page about Finding Your Library. A spiffy tool where you enter your ZIP code and get a list of all of the libraries within 5, 10, or 25 miles? You know, the sort of thing that pretty much every major retail chain in the country has mastered? Nope. Not even close. Really, go look at the page. It has to be seen to be believed.

  3. Do people still type in domain names? I figure users would simply google search what they’re looking. Sure you might want an easy url to remember, but in the long run, not sure that it matters.

  4. You are correct. They don’t use domain names. The research tells us that a segment of the population finds information by simply typing simple words in the address bar. What they don’t use is a search engine. So that leads me to believe that when some people are looking for their local library, they just type library in the address bar. So rather than get a company that sells library equipment, why not get a web page from ALA chock full of useful library information.

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