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Yelp and Other Local Information Sites

Has your library been Yelped? Yelp is a community-based directory service with listings for all sorts of businesses and institutions. By “community-based” I mean that this is yet another popular website in which users sign up for accounts and provide all the content — add and
edit listings, add photos, add reviews, etc.

A few of our libraries have listings including a few reviews. The review for Danvers says:

“the library is great and has a nice selection of books. I am addicted to Noblenet.org, where you can order any book from member libraries. It is the greatest innovation.” | Yelp Listing and Review

But my favorite library review is for the Somerville Public Library, which says:

“One thing I have noticed about the Somerville Library is the uniform friendliness and cheerfulness of their staff, a far cry from your stereotypically surly librarian.” | Yelp Listing and Review

The reviews on this site are also personal opinion, of course, and vary in quality, interest and fairness. But, as with so many social sites, there are mechanisms to help the better content rise to the top. The more reviews a person has written, the more prominence their reviews receive — the system is skewed to favor the frequent, committed reviewers rather than people who just write one or two. And readers are encouraged to click and indicate which reviews are funny, cool or useful.

You should definitely check to see if your library is listed, see if the information is accurate, and edit the profile to add a link to your website, photographs, etc. Anyone with a free account can edit and add photos (which is another good reason to keep an eye on yours.)

There’s page with some good information for “business owners” which is I guess what we are in this context. You do need to resist the temptation to post glowing reviews of your own library under fake names, etc., but you wouldn’t do that anyway…would you? Actually, it’s fine to set up an account and post a message about your own library or to respond to other messages, as long as you do it honestly, acknowledging the connection.

Information from Yelp and similar sites like InsiderPages is also starting to appear in other places, most notably in Google Maps. For example, here’s a screenshot of the listing for the Beverly Public Library on Google Maps:
(Click on the screenshot to get to the Google Maps page)

Both the review and the photograph are listed here are from Yelp.com. Google Maps also includes reviews and photographs from a variety of other sources, including InsiderPages, InfoUSA, your own website, and more. Yahoo Local has its own system that allows users to submit reviews and photographs, and it also pulls in information from InsiderPages and elsewhere.

It’s definitely worth checking your listings on the major sites to make sure the information is accurate, to add links and photographs, and to check out any reviews. There are so many sites, it’s not easy to catch up, but here are a few of the most important:

  • Yelp — In their own words, Yelp is “the ultimate city guide that taps into the community’s voice and reveals honest and current insights on local businesses and services on everything from martinis to mechanics.” There’s an active community of Yelpers in the Boston area, with best coverage in the city itself but an increasing number of reviews in the suburbs. There are many community features here beyond just the reviews — people can create lists of favorites, and there are groups and discussion forums. This site currently seems to have the most library listings.
  • InsiderPages — More directory-oriented and less chatty than Yelp, but also an important site for libraries. InsiderPages has partnerships with many other sites, including CitySearch, Expedia, Evites and others, and InsiderPages reviews can be found on Google Maps and elsewhere.
  • Google Maps and Yahoo Local— It’s a good idea to search your library listings on these important map/directory sites, submit additions and corrections, and see what reviews and information is coming in from other sources.

[Originally posted February 26, 2007; Updated and reposted June 15, 2007]

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