Sunday, July 17, 2011

Longmeadow's New Community Website 

Almost one year ago, the Longmeadow Select Board decided to take control of the town website and convert it to the "official town government website" rather than allowing it to continue as Longmeadow's community website.  A new website with a similar masthead and Internet address but with significantly different overall appearance has now emerged to fill the gap that was created by the Select Board's actions last July. 

A little bit of history....
Longmeadow's website was created by a group of volunteers in 1997 as a community website not as the "official" town government website.  As the website evolved the content of the website became broader than what could be considered for inclusion on an "official town government" website.  Numerous newspaper articles were written about the website that reflected its community oriented content.  Content included the Longmeadow HS Alumni Directory and Varsity Sports Archive as well as many webpages created and hosted for community organizations including the Longmeadow Historical Society/ Long Meddowe Days, Newcomers Club and the Longmeadow Gardeners on the Green. Community events such as Long Meddowe Days were frequently spotlighted on the homepage.

As highlighted in my last Buzz post the Select Board and the Town Manager are now finding it difficult to create policy to navigate the content and link related issues.  Since the creation of the website almost 14 years ago, there was only one other incident in 1999 about links/content that created an issue.  Interestingly enough, it was also about a school building project.  For those who are interested, here is a link to a Springfield Republican newspaper article about this situation which almost caused a major change with the website.

The new Longmeadow Community website at restores many of the legacy sections that the Select Board deemed unnecessary as well as some new additions.  However, the LHS Alumni Directory and LHS Sports Archive are two sections that will likely disappear forever.... both of which were viewed by many website visitors.

One new section is the Longmeadow Virtual Library which provides easy access to the many web based library resources (both through Storrs Library and the Longmeadow School Department) available for Longmeadow town residents. In addition the Longmeadow Virtual Library provides a list of quick links to other town resources that have virtually disappeared.

I recommend that the Select Board and Town Manager stay focused upon providing a better "town government" website than what currently exists today and stop trying to also become a "community" website that has led to the current situation.  

It may be a long time before,,   the LongmeadowBuzz blog and the LongmeadowBiz Facebook Fanpage have visible links on the website.  However, I believe that Longmeadow residents are savvy enough to find websites/ blogs that provide them with important information about their town.

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