A School Library Website: Who’s it for?

2009_3962573662_card_catalogWithin a generation of users, libraries have changed a lot.  In order for school libraries to stay relevant to the digital natives of today, they require virtual spaces to go along with their physical ones.  Looking at the library websites of the schools in my district I noticed a lack of virtual spaces designed to meet the needs of their school communities.  I want to make sure that as a digital immigrant, I can create something I will be able to use for my own future library.  I believe a website is an important part of the library space, so that is why I chose to concentrate on improving the one I had previously created .  As I have been working on ideastorecreating more content for my website, I have been asking myself many questions.  Foremost in my mind is what do I want my website to accomplish and what technology do I want to use to add to my existing site?  As this blog post is about my reason for creating a website and who I am creating it for, I will start there.

My original vision when I first put together a library website was to create a virtual space that would complement the physical space of the library.  I wanted to allow students to have access to library services whenever they needed them as well as encouraging them to use the physical space.  This rationale is still part of my vision.  Students are used to getting the information they need whenever they choose, so for school libraries to remain useful to their primary users, they need to provide services outside the limited hours of a physical space.  However, I think the physical space of the library is still a very important part of the school community and a library website can be used to encourage students to utilize this space by highlighting new books, services available, or events happening there.  It is obvious that a library website needs to benefit students, but teachers, support staff, administration and parents are also an important part of the school community.  Should I be including content aimed at these members as well?

Besides students, teachers are usually the next biggest users of school libraries and I think a school library website should offer something for them as well.  The one I have created does have a page on which I want to provide resources for teachers.  I also think it would be beneficial to include resources for support staff, EAs, TAs, SEAs etc., but I am not sure what they would need.  Once I get my own library, I might try to find out their information needs and see if I could include content to support them.  A main goal of administration is to provide a school environment that ensures students’ success, so by providing a space that meets the needs of students and teachers I would help them meet this goal.  If I was creating a website for an elementary school I would probably include some resources for parents.  When children are young, parents are encouraged to support their child’s literacy and learning, and resources to help them do that would be helpful to them.  However, parents are usually not as involved in the school community at high school so I am not sure if it is as important to include resources for them on my website.  However, once I get my own library, like with the support staff, I may ask if there is anything they would like to see for themselves in the library.

As a TTOC I have had the advantage of working in many different school libraries and I have observed that their content and services are generally geared toward students and teachers.  Therefore, before updating my own website I decided to take a look at some other school library websites to see if they reflect this.  The School Library Websites wiki provides many examples of websites created by teacher-librarians. I focussed on the high school examples, as that is the level of my website.  For the purpose of this assignment I concentrated on the websites’ intended audience.

Not surprisingly, the primary audience of all of the websites I looked at was students.  They usually had an area for teacher resources as well, though this was often not immediately apparent.

The Big House Library has a section for teacher resources within the Resources tab.  It is easy to get to, but it is not obvious from the homepage that there are teacher resources on this site.

 

 

 

Dr. Charles Best Secondary, a local Coquitlam high school, has a variety of resources for both students and teachers.  However, I did have to search for the ones for teachers.  The New section has lots of website links (for students and teachers) and lesson plans (for teachers).  The Stakeholders page has a lesson plan for teachers though it is on a sidebar with other resources meant for students.

 

The ABC Learning Resource Centre from El Salvador, does have a page on its wiki that contains resources for students and teachers, though again I had to search for it.  The page is simply listed as Useful Resources.

 

 

Not including the ones that were simply links to online catalogues, all of the websites I looked at were similar in terms of what resources they provided as well as their intended audience.  For my own website, it makes sense to focus on highlighting resources and services for students, while still providing resources for teachers.  However, unlike many of the websites I looked at, I want to make it clear from my homepage where the teacher resources are.  I also want to make sure that my library’s virtual space is not separate from the physical space but instead complements what is provided there.  I am looking forward to creating some content that will be useful for the future users of my library.

 

Image citations:

Caie, S. (2009) Card catalogue. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2009_3962573662_card_catalog.jpg

The Idea Store (2013) Sally and Edith in Europe. https://sallyandedithineurope.wordpress.com/tag/idea-store/

 

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1 Comment

Filed under LIBE 477

One response to “A School Library Website: Who’s it for?

  1. Well done. A good, clearly focused blog post on your audience and how you can best support their needs. You’ve collected many good examples of what Library websites can look like, and what you would adopt from their design and focus. I agree with your summary of designing the site primarily for your students with a clear and focused section for the teachers you work with. I would also still consider putting in a small section for Parents, as they are an under-served community in our schools as well. Overall, great post.

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