Friday, February 29, 2008

Considerations for Creating an Exemplary Virtual School Library

Thinking about goals

It was repeatedly stated throughout the literature that good web site design must have a clear goal. Creating a school library web site is more than simply learning how to link other sites, and thus, web site design should “begin with the end in mind” (Braxton, 2004). The goal of a school library web site should relate to how it will be beneficial to the users; the students, teachers, teacher-librarian, and community. As Regan (2005) states, it is easier to point the users to the information they need if you know what they’re looking for.

What makes for an exemplary virtual school library?

There are general standards which can be used to evaluate what constitutes an effective virtual school library. For example, every year, the IASL/Concord School Library Web Page of the Year Award is determined according to an agreed upon set of criteria, based on the results of research and comments/advice in professional literature. This criteria includes:

* Evidence of school teacher-librarian involvement in site development
* Relevance of site to goals and objectives of the school library
* Visual appeal: layout, choice of images, type face and style
* Organization of the information on the site
* Quality of the writing and use of language
* Ease of use of the site and navigational features
* Educational, information or public relations value of the site
* Appropriateness for the needs of users
* Currency, evidence of update policy, and the provision of current information and/or links
* Technical quality
* Value of site as a model for other school libraries and/or teacher-librarians
(Clyde, A. (2002). School library web sites. Teacher Librarian. 28 (2), 51-53).

Scotch College

Springfield Township High School

Chico High School Library

Joyce Valenza’s A WebQuest About School Library Websites, offers two very detailed taxonomies addressing the features/content and characteristics of school library web sites. This is an extremely helpful resource for the pre-planning of a school library web site.

Other helpful resources exist to help guide the planning, or updating of virtual school library web sites. The International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) provides a list of Internet resources for the Creating a Web Page for your School Library. Another site with web design ideas and art resources to check out is TL Links & BC Social Studies 8-12 Resources Web site.

Braxton, B. (2004). Putting your school library online. Teacher Librarian, 31 (4).
Regan, B. (2003). Usability in school web sites: Five steps to a better web site for your school. Library Media Connection, 21 (4), 71-72.

*** Special thanks to John Lobe for his tech-help with creating thumbnails!


Anthony said...

Nice Post, you should check out my cool simple web site business at

John Lobe said...

Hi Ronda, funky thumbnails! Hey, if you want to see something great, do a Google search using designing a virtual school library . You might blush when you see the second hit. John

Linda Morgan said...

I think I know what John's referring to - the same thing popped up for me with a Google search for "virtual school libraries" - pretty cool.