Your website is not as important as your catalogue

by / Filed under Libraries

Your website is not as important as your catalog. This is a fact. We’ve asked many nonlibrarians about what they do on library websites, and the usual response is “Place reserves on books.” This is subtly different from how we think of our websites and catalogs (i.e., as distinct things). So, either our users see the two as the same thing, or they ignore our websites and just use our catalogs. Looking at website analytics suggests the latter. User Experience (UX) Design for Libraries

Your commonsense, analytics and visitor research will all point to this fundamental truth. And it’s an awkward truth, because chances are you have virtually no control over the public face of your catalogue. You probably didn’t even have a say in what catalogue your library chose, because that’s the concern of the stock unit.

It’s also difficult to change. The people you work with are probably responsible for all sorts of things in your library that can be done online: marketing, writing news, arranging events, running friends groups, setting up a reading group, setting up reference services. Anything but sorting out the search for the public—unless they deal with a member of that public who hasn’t been able to find a not particularly esoteric text on your site.