Being where the people are: the challenges and benefits of search engine visibility for public libraries

Zoe Dickinson (Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada)
Mike Smit (Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada)

Library Hi Tech News

ISSN: 0741-9058

Publication date: 7 December 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the challenges and benefits presented by search engine visibility for public libraries. This paper outlines the preliminary results of a pilot study investigating search engine visibility in two Canadian public libraries, and discusses practical approaches to search engine visibility.

Design/methodology/approach

The study consists of semi-structured interviews with librarians from two multi-branch Canadian public library systems, combined with quantitative data provided by each library, as well as data obtained through site-specific searches in Google and Bing. Possible barriers to visibility are identified through thematic analysis of the interviews. Practical approaches are identified by the author based on a literature review.

Findings

The initial findings of this pilot study identify a complex combination of barriers to visibility on search engines, in the form of attitudes, policies, organizational structures and technological difficulties.

Research limitations/implications

This paper describes a small, preliminary pilot study. More research is needed before any firm conclusions can be reached.

Practical implications

A review of the literature shows the increasing importance of search engine visibility for public libraries. This paper outlines practical approaches which can be undertaken immediately by libraries, as well as delving into the underlying issues which may be affecting libraries’ progress on the issue.

Originality/value

There has been little original research investigating the reasons behind libraries’ lack of visibility in search engine results pages. This paper provides insight into a previously unexplored area by exploring public libraries’ relationships with search engines.

Keywords

Citation

Dickinson, Z. and Smit, M. (2015), "Being where the people are: the challenges and benefits of search engine visibility for public libraries", Library Hi Tech News, Vol. 32 No. 10, pp. 11-15. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHTN-08-2015-0055

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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