New York, NY (PRWEB) September 26, 2005
The new report from Primary Research Group is based on interviews with webmasters from the San Jose Public Library, the Salt Lake City Public Library, the Alexandria Library, the Los Angeles Public Library, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Public Library, the Houston Public Library, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the Colorado Virtual Library and the Boston Public Library. A free sample chapter is available for download. A few of the reportÂs conclusions are summarized below:
Libraries take widely varying approaches to the issue of how should control the website and who should be empowered to add content to the site. Some libraries prefer to centralize access in the hands of just a few librarians who act as gatekeepers to the website. Others prefer to empower as many librarians as possible to contribute to the site, and to oversee their own contributions to the site. To achieve this, some libraries have purchased off the shelf content management systems, while others have developed in-house content management systems that allow non-technical librarians to function independent of the need for technical help.
THE IMPACT OF CASCADING STYLE SHEETS (CSS)
Cascading style sheet, that allow librarians to edit entire sites, or subsets of site, with one click of the mouse, have become popular ways to introduce some uniformity and lower the labor demand of editing public library websites. Cascading style sheets are important because librarians are finding more and more reasons to add more and more content to their sites. Public library websites have often quickly become unwieldy monsters that voraciously eat up librarian time. Correcting and editing these beasts by hand is dangerous and cascading style sheets allow proper measured feeding without loss of limb.
MOST POPULAR PAGES
Some of the most popular pages on the public library websites surveyed were the events calendar, basic library info page, database gateways and childrenÂs and teen pages.
Relative to the importance of the library website to the overall success of the library, the size of most library web staffs, when such staffs exist, is quite small. Usually one to three individuals run the website, and they often have other responsibilities. The strategy that most have pursued to overcome their small staffs is to devolve responsibility for content to subject specialist librarians, and to empower them to be able to edit the portions of the website for which they are responsible.
Most librarians interviewed stressed the need to develop unique content that would draw traffic to the website. Among the type of content mentioned were: interactive storytelling and educational games, reading lists and contests, book reviews by librarians posted online, subject guides, and events calendars.
CHILDRENÂS & TEEN SERVICES
One of the most vibrant areas for website development has been services for children and teens. This age group grew up with access to the world wide web and it is truly the only generation for which web use and communication is as natural as turning on the television for most Americans. Libraries have responded with books clubs, personalized spaces, interactive stories and games, and other features aimed at this audience. Nonetheless, many libraries have just scraped the surface of their potential in this area. We like what the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Public Library has done in this area, developing unique content, focused marketing and web teams to create a unique site for Charlotte area children.
Many libraries have plans to digitize their special collections, or at the very least, to digitize finding aids for those collections and increase access to them through the library website. We expect that this will soon become a major area of public library investment and a challenge for website administrators who must devise access schemes to digitized resources.
For more information, to request a review copy or to place an order, please contact James Moses at Primary Research Group. A print version of the report is available for $65.00; a PDF electronic copy, also $65.00. Both versions are available together for $100.00 with usage restricted to one institution. Orders for the print edition can be placed through Primary Research Group or major book distributors. Orders for an electronic version (or joint print/electronic versions) can also be placed through our website at http://www.primaryresearch.com., or by calling Primary Research Group at 212-736-2316.