Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Academic libraries first entered the WWW cyberspace in 1993. Since then, Web page development and management has been an important issue that calls for comprehensive and comparative researches. Yaping Peter Liu’s Web Page Development and Management is a serious and enlightening contribution. His SPEC Kit contains four major sections: a summary of the two surveys of ARL library homepages conducted in 1996 and 1998 respectively; survey questions and answers; representative documents for Web development guidelines and policies and illustrative library homepage designs from 33 ARL libraries that responded to the surveys; and a short but useful bibliography of Web page design and management.
The two‐page summary comparing the survey results is most interesting. After a brief description of the purposes and scope of the surveys, the author highlights the findings and elucidates the issues and trends in Web page development and management. Many points and arguments in the summary are grounded in the data collected from the responses. The survey questions probed such Web development and management aspects as software, hardware, personnel, site maintenance, user services and funding. These well‐constituted questions capture essential issues of concern to Web masters and policy makers. The quantitative and qualitative results are valuable for advanced academic research and useful for the decision‐making process in Web page development and management in an academic library environment.
The carefully selected Web development guidelines and policies of ten universities offer immediate reference to other academic libraries in the standardization and management of Web publications. Many principles are widely applicable. Also showcased are 23 real homepage designs from the surveyed libraries, featuring a significant number of graphic and text arrangement varieties and offering enlightenment to interested homepage designers.
While there is no scarcity of facts and data in this kit, more analytical discussion and review are desired throughout, particularly in the sections of guidelines and policies, as well as in homepage design, so that the presentation of the book could be tighter and easier to follow, and readers could benefit more from these documents. With regard to survey design, the two investigations are quite different in the number and nature of questions asked, which makes it somewhat difficult to compare the two sets of results. Some arguments in the summary section are evidently not drawn from the surveys, such as the three phrases of Web page development, from “outreach” to “user‐oriented” to “individually oriented”. Individually oriented Web page services, or one‐to‐one customization of library services through existing Web technologies, herald the future of academic library Web page development and management. The 1998 survey could have inquired into and supported this trend.
Overall, Liu’s Web Page Development and Management gives decision makers and Web masters of academic libraries a valuable source of data and a structured research framework to evaluate and enhance their Web‐based library services.