Library Web Sites: Creating Online Collections and Services

Frank Parry (Loughborough University, UK)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 1 October 2004




Parry, F. (2004), "Library Web Sites: Creating Online Collections and Services", The Electronic Library, Vol. 22 No. 5, pp. 454-454.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This is a “from the ground up” book about planning, designing and implementing library Web sites. It is a slim volume which nevertheless manages to contain a substantial amount of information, providing a step‐by‐step guide to such issues as planning, information architecture, creating library portals and content for specific audiences.

In almost any organisation, large or small, the task of creating a library Web site usually falls on diverse groups of people with varying agendas and technical competencies. This book will adequately cater for most of these groups. It is clearly written with a minimum of jargon, which is something of an achievement considering the subject matter.

The principles that seem to underline this book most strongly are clarity of purpose, ease of use and systematic planning. Clarity of purpose and systematic planning are dealt with most effectively in the first chapter that includes sections on content inventories, site development processes, style guides, and housekeeping activities. Ease of use, or usability, is considered in the second chapter on information architecture and includes topics such as site layout, navigation, maps and indexes and technical requirements. How a library sets out its stall and advertises its wares appears in the chapter on Internet marketing. Much of the rest is concerned with how a library organises and presents its services in the most user‐friendly manner, with chapters on digital reference collections, portals and databases. Wilson is particularly keen to break down the barriers to information and wants to promote simple, effective and inspired Web site creation that is user‐focused. At one point in the planning process, she advocates researching the most popular Internet sites such as eBay, Travelocity and Yahoo! to see how their search features and interfaces operate to produce the best results.

Of course, many libraries will already have a Web presence. For those people, this book will act simply as a checklist or reminder of things to do keep up with the latest thinking on topics such as usability, accessibility, marketing and evaluation.

There are plenty of examples of good practices here, drawn from both public library and higher education library Web sites from the USA. It would have been interesting to have some examples from other sectors or countries, though that is a minor point.

The appendices contain an editorial calendar to assist Web managers keep track of events to publicise on their Web sites and a library Web manager's resource directory. Both are reproduced on an accompanying Web site hosted by the American Library Association that also contains examples of spreadsheets to record usage statistics and a content inventory. There is also a full and up to date bibliography and index.

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