BEYOND BANDWIDTH--THE WEB-ENABLED CD
At the Penn Library we have been experimenting with the publication of our online pages on a CD/ROM disk for distribution far and wide. This is a relatively new concept which some people are referring to as a "web-enabled CD." This disk is an example of this technology.
The University of Pennsylvania Library online Sampler
During Homecoming 1996 the Library distributed 1500 free copies of our first Web-enabled CD to alumni and visitors. The University of Pennsylvania Library online Sampler, http://www.library.upenn.edu/vision/dolphin/ as the experimental disk is called, has been designed so that it can be "read" using any standard web browser, allowing home users to view large graphic files at high-bandwidth speeds. Our web-enabled CD works on both the MAC and Windows platforms. The viewer navigates the disk just as he or she would any web site.
The disk contains the full text and images from four "online exhibits" that have been mounted on the web by the Library's Special Collections Department. In addition to the four online exhibits, we include a significant portion of the Library's "Visions" site--in other words, our "pitch" for the Library's plans and dreams. An updated version of this site is on this disk.
Since Homecoming, we have taken the disks on the road with us when we visit alumni clubs. Invariably, every disk is taken home by interested alumni, all of whom seem to have friend or relative who has access to the Internet.
Advantages of this technology:
The cost of such disks is remarkably low. If an organization already has a CD-Recording machine (under $1,000), the cost per disk is simply the cost of the blanks: about $8.00. Once the prototype disk is complete and ready to publish, then a "master" disk is created. If the master is used to produce 500 disks or more, the unit cost drops to less than $3.00, depending on how fancy the packaging is. Unit costs of under $2.00 are achievable in runs of over 2,000. (See the next chapter for complete details on "how to burn your own disk.")
At $3.00 apiece you can give the disk away. You can mail it to your Friends. You can use it as a "premium." You can set it out on a table and encourage visitors to help themselves to a copy. You can make it your Holiday Card. Why not? It is great publicity for your institution.
Or you can sell it. A "Greatest Hits" of your library or institution ought to be worth $10.00, maybe more. After all, with audio CDs selling at $15.00, you have a bargain!
The Library Case Statement
At the Library we asked ourselves whether we could build our Case Statement around our web-enabled CD. After all, it already contained our "Visions" pages, and it was a "must-read" for anyone who had a CD/ROM drive. Far better than a printed piece, it demonstrated that the Library is at the cutting edge of information services for the 21st century. And it connected viewers to the much larger--and extremely impressive--main Penn Library Web site. As this is written, we are still revising the disk for release as part of a "package" that also contains instructions and a printed brochure. We plan to introduce video clips with welcomes from the Library Director and the Provost or President.
We also will include our full range of gift opportunities, as well as a hyperlink which would allow the reader to review the latest list on our web site. We will have a pledge form, and a "tell me more" form on the disk. The disk will be part of a boxed package that contains a modest (16-page) printed case statement (cover in color, rest in B&W;). In addition, we will include a letter from the Director which describes the package as an experiment and solicits detailed feedback. A response form will be enclosed, with a pre-paid response envelope. The Library Development 800 number will also prominently featured.
We hope that the package will be such a novelty that it will encourage investigation and that recipients will make a special effort to get a friend or family member to show them the disk, if they don't have a computer. As with a printed Case Statement, we do not expect our web-CD Case Statement to raise money directly. Rather, it will help to prepare the way, and will help to build an interested constituency. It will also give fundraisers and fundraising volunteers something pretty snazzy to present to a warm prospect.
Other Uses of the Web-Enabled CD
In the following chapter, we will provide advice on how to cut your own CD. Just think, your first "album!"
From the CD version of Fundraising and Friend-Raising on the Web: A Handbook for Libraries and Other Non-Profit Organizations. ALA Editions, 1998. Copyright © 1998, Adam Corson-Finnerty and Laura Blanchard, all rights reserved.