Sunday, October 12, 2008

My 'exemplary' school library website

Library school is great! We have no concerns regarding a budget, technology integration issues, district standards, or administrators with differing viewpoints. All we have to do is describe a piece of our “imaginary” library and it becomes real – just as we described it! The pay is lousy though!!! If we could only improve that, I’d “work” here forever.

This week we designed an “exemplary” school library website. Sadly, in all of our research, we never found a school website that embodied all of our suggestions. Some have moved forward with inclusion of things like blogs, RSS feeds, attractive designs, recommended book suggestions and other Web 2.0 features. Very few have adopted search bars on the front page or any type of federated search functions.

In the real world, outside of library school, we still have a long way to go. Highlights of my exemplary library website include:

  • an easily memorable web address and links from all other school webpages with links back to all needed resources including classroom pages, schedule, and school e-mail
  • a prominently featured federated search bar on the front page that will simultaneously search the OPAC, databases and the web through Google
  • search guidance in the form of subject expansion or narrowing, through system generated keyword or subject heading suggestions
  • the use of color and white space to enhance site organization and scannability
  • links, tabs, databases, and other content organized according to typical user needs and designed to open appropriately in a new or existing window
  • easily discovered and readable descriptions and search instructions
  • search guidance in the form of subject expansion or narrowing, through system generated keyword or subject heading suggestions
  • literature appreciation promotion through book summaries, reviews and recommendations, weblinks, and a blog for discussion
  • online tips for research, planning, writing, and citing academic work
  • information on internet safety, plagiarism, and copyright law
  • library and computer lab schedules and librarian contact information
  • a clear summary of the purpose of the website, the library mission statement, and links to library policies and procedures
  • a non-academic, relevant reason for visiting the site regularly, perhaps a daily blog about events in the library and the school or RSS feed of school announcements

The final bullet may be the most important. We need to stimulate users to begin with the library instead of the commercial alternatives (Google).

I hope to get a website up soon where I will post academic responses and assignments that define my views and talents. I will post a more detailed description of my “exemplary school website” there when I do.

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