One of the reasons why many public library websites look a bit dated, lack user friendliness and often feature irrelevant content is because they have to sit within the myriad constraints of the wider Council website.
I’ve spoken with lots of librarians from different authorities across the UK over the years and many of them have voiced concerns that they are unable to fulfil user needs and expectations because IT and legal departments either don’t understand what public libraries are trying to do or are just too busy juggling multiple projects from other council departments to invest time and energy into developing the public library website into something fit for 21st century users.
That’s why I’m looking forward to the publication of an article by Margaret Adolphous in the March online issue of Update. Margaret first contacted me back in July 2009 to ask my own opinions about the state of public library websites in the UK. I also met up with her for a brief chat following my presentation with Liz McGettigan at the Internet Librarian International Conference in October. Margaret has invested a lot of time and energy into investigating this topic and has sought opinions from a variety of people within the profession so I’m sure it will be a great read. Hopefully she’ll offer us all some solutions for the future!
In the meantime you might find this article, appropriately titled “How to STOP writing rubbish copy on your website”, useful if you’re currently involved in upgrading your public library website.