Library Website Update: Rebuild, Redesign, or Refresh?

Website Update Approaches

A website consists of three aspects: the content, the organization, and the design.  With few exceptions, the content of the website is its most important trait.  It’s the essence of what you want to present, advertise, or sell to the website visitor.  The content might naturally drive the organization of the website if it falls into clear categories—audience, departments, product types, etc.  Otherwise, the website developer creates functional categories.  These categories translate into menu items, subsections, and often subdomains or subfolders.  Likewise, the content and the organization might suggest a certain design.  In addition, the website developer looks to audience, purpose, and branding to create a positive user experience for the website visitor.

While website content is not usually affected by changes in Web and browser technology improvements, website organization—whether static or dynamically created—could be, and design most certainly is.  We have seen websites evolve from simple HTML, to the separation of design from content using CSS, to responsive design, and finally to modern design frameworks.  Website construction went from coding individual pages, to using includes to share components, and then to complete content management systems.  Web technology continues to improve, making design easier and features more robust.  In order to take advantages of new Web technologies, periodic website updates need to be undertaken.

When should website updates be made?  If you have a website that has gone unchanged for two to three years and you want to know whether you should update it, what factors should you consider?  To what extent should you look to make changes?

There are three routes you can take:

  • Rebuild the website.  This means tossing out most of your current site—content, organization, and design—and essentially starting over.
  • Redesign the website.  This means making some changes to the content and organization but changing most of the look and function of the site.
  • Refresh the website.   This means keeping most of the content and organization and making minor—but noticeable—changes to the site design.

Continue reading “Library Website Update: Rebuild, Redesign, or Refresh?”

COUNTER: Basics and Resources

COUNTER (Counting Online Usage of NeTworked Electronic Resources) is an organization and a set of standards to report usage of library electronic resources by vendors and publishers.

Why understand COUNTER reports?

When database vendors and publishers use different methods of counting and reporting usage of their platforms and items, it is difficult for librarians to determine accurate use counts (and rejections).  Thus, it is hard to calculate the cost-per-use.  Different figures often make database comparison difficult when deciding between the value of two similar products.

COUNTER provides a way to standardize and compare database usage statistics across vendors and time.

COUNTER reports can also show demand for titles not owned by reporting access denied to books (BR3) and journals (JR2).  These reports can be helpful for library resource acquisition decisions.

The Basics

COUNTERThere are four types of item-type usage reports each with their unique statistics:

  • Books – Electronic or print monographs, including reference works.
  • Journals – Serials including conference proceedings and newspapers.
  • Media – Non-text items such as images and video.
  • Databases – Collections of online data.

The Title report is a combination of book and journal counts.

The Consortium report counts all usage across a group of institutions.

COUNTER Report Request Screen
COUNTER Report Request Screen

COUNTER statistics are reported on a monthly basis and reports can typically cover any custom time period in addition to calendar year.

Reports are distributed electronically.  Sometimes they are available from vendors as immediate downloads, but other times they must be requested and emailed.  “COUNTER reports are available in two formats: delimited files, which are readable using Excel and similar spreadsheet tools, and XML, which is delivered using SUSHI.”  The two types of delimited files are comma-separated value (CSV) and tab-separated value (TSV) files.

Download an example COUNTER report.

If the vendor allows, you can avoid the manual running and downloading of COUNTER reports.  COUNTER offers an automated way to accomplish this using  the SUSHI protocol.  “The Standardized Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative (SUSHI) protocol is designed to simplify the gathering of usage statistics by librarians, and it uses a series of XML schemas to do this.”

The current version in widespread use is COUNTER 4, however some vendors still offer archived usage statistics using version 3.  COUNTER 5 is available and we will see vendors moving to it gradually.  EBSCO just announced that it is making its usage reports available in COUNTER 5 format.

While version 5 is the future, COUNTER 4 is still by far the most common version offered by vendors today.  Below is a list of all COUNTER 4 reports with a brief description of each.  Vendors, depending on their size and content, usually offer a subset of these reports.

Continue reading “COUNTER: Basics and Resources”

2019 Library Conference Schedule

It’s a new year and we are looking forward to the 2019 annual library conferences. The list below covers large library technology conferences as well as the major conferences where technology will be discussed.

January #hashtag
25-29 ALA Midwinter Meeting, Seattle, WA #alamw19
19-22 Code4Lib 2019, San José, CA #c4l19
3-6 14th Annual ER&L Conference, Austin, TX #erl19
4-6 Designing for Digital, Austin, TX + Online #d4d19
20-21 Library Technology Conference 2019, St. Paul, MN #LTC2019
26-28 Computers in Libraries 2019, Arlington, VA #CILDC
17 UNT Open Access Symposium 2019, Dallas, TX #UNTOA19
2-6 ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries 2019, Urbana-Champaign, IL #JCDL2019
14-18 SLA Annual Conference 2019, Cleveland, OH #SLA2019
20-25 ALA Annual Conference 2019, Washington, DC #ALAAC19
24-30 IFLA World Library and Information Congress, Athens, Greece #wlic2019
19-23 ASIS&T Annual Meeting 2019, Melbourne, Australia #ASIST19
TBA Charleston Conference, Charleston, SC #CHSConf2019
February 2020
25-29 PLA Conference 2020, Nashville, TN #PLA2020

For more comprehensive lists, see Douglas Hasty’s Library Conference Planner website.

Library Websites Analysis

Drexel University Libraries Website

We analyzed 100 academic library websites.  To select the libraries, we used the U. S. News & World Report‘s Best Colleges National University Rankings.  For those 100 prominent universities, we found the website of the main library and looked at its homepage navigation, organization, terminology, and search tools.

We looked at trends in these areas:

  1. Navigation menu items to understand terminology and site organization.
  2. Discovery and search tool tabs.
  3. Headings for sections of most-used links.
  4. Headings for News carousels and links.

Continue reading “Library Websites Analysis”

Library Websites for the Top 100 Universities

Duke University Libraries

Sometimes, when evaluating your library’s website or services, you’d like to see how things are done at other institutions.  Why reinvent the wheel?  Maybe you just need some inspiration; seeing another’s layout or reading alternative wording can spark a brilliant idea.  Or you might just copy something that works.

U. S. News & World Report’s Best CollegesIf you find yourself wanting to browse other academic websites but don’t know where to start or how to choose them, this list of links can help.  This is not a list of the top 100 academic library websites.  Rather, it is a list of the library websites for the top 100 institutions in the U. S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges National University Rankings.  Use it to check a handful of sites or all 100.

Continue reading “Library Websites for the Top 100 Universities”