Library Website Evaluation – How do the Australian States and Canadian Provinces Compare?
Introduction Public library websites are the electronic branch for every library. Evaluating what each library website does well or poorly can be done through evaluating how each state or province compares to one another. This project is a longitudinal study which looks at three sets of data collected during different time periods (2013-14; 2017-18; 2021-23).
Ninety-four postgraduate students were used to collect the data through a project management course that involves Work Integrated Learning (WIL) components. The students were given 25 or 50 websites to evaluate based on a spreadsheet protocol that was adapted from Powers (2011) article. Method A spreadsheet protocol was utilised, and each student looked at 17 different aspects of the website and determined whether it was present.
For a couple of components, the students obtained more information such as numbers of databases, the date the website was last updated, and the type of joint use/collaborative facilities. For this paper, Australian and Canadian public library websites were evaluated. Findings When the project was initially started, Excel spreadsheets were used to capture the data. When it was decided to do state and provincial level analysis, the data was imported into SPSS version 28.0. The data was separated into three databases by date of collection and cleaned. The number of public libraries varies based on population and location within the states for Australia and Canada.
In Australia the three eastern states (NSW, QLD, VIC) have the largest number of libraries (a cumulative 71.8%). In Canada, the states with the largest number of libraries are Alberta and Ontario (cumulative 78.3%).
The findings will include a discussion of the protocol items in detail to allow for comparisons by state. Cross comparisons will be addressed, taking into consideration that certain states and provinces in both countries have state-wide public library networks that manage and fund the public libraries, while other states and provinces have different public library services that align with the council structure. Conclusion Public libraries need up-to-date websites that provide information that is useful for the users.
As with any set of websites, there are those that need improvement, are mediocre, and excellent. The smaller the library service is within their state, the website may not be as welcoming and informative as the larger metropolitan services located in the Central Business District (CBD). The analysis of the data will show what states do well and those that do not.
References Powers, B. S. (2011). Oh, what a tangled web we weave? An evaluation of Pennsylvania’s public library web sites for a basic level of web presence and beyond. Current Studies in Librarianship, 31(1).
Senior Lecturer, University of South Australia
Diane L. Velasquez is a senior lecturer in the Information Management Program at the UniSA STEM, University of South Australia in Adelaide, Australia. Her research interests include administration and management of information agencies, marketing of libraries, romance genre and evaluation and assessment of public library websites. She holds a PhD in information science from the University of Missouri, a MA in information resources and library science from the University of Arizona, an MBA in management from Golden Gate University. Prior to being in academia Dr Velasquez spent 23 years in corporate America in marketing, administration, and human resources and feels she has escaped to a better work-life balance. Dr Velasquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Lecturer, Victoria University of Wellington
Jennifer Campbell-Meier is a senior lecturer in the School of Information Management at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington. Her current research projects examine digital resilience and evaluation of digital inclusion efforts. Her research interests include professional development, mentoring, and library futures.