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David Lee King

Five Types of Content on a Library Website



I’ve been thinking through different content types that tend to be presented on library websites. Here’s what I have so far:

  1. Traditional Content, or “Stuff we Buy”: this is the no-brainer area. It includes books, videos, music, journals, etc. All the usual stuff that libraries collect.  The main thing to remember here is to be format-agnostic. For example, libraries collect books – paper books, audio books, ebooks, digital audio books, etc. but they’re all books.
  2. Original Content, or “Stuff Librarians Create”: Library employees create great content, and most of it should be featured prominently on our websites. Here are some examples of original content: tipsheets on using databases, topical pathfinders (gee, I hate that word),  articles about a topic on a subject guide, and all those “if you like Danielle Steele, try…” Reader’s Advisory  guides. I’d lump in digitized local history content here as well. Much of the read/write web would also appear here (blogs, wikis, etc).
  3. Attendable Content, or “Things you Attend or Visit”: My library puts on seminars, classes, storytimes, exhibits, and even concerts once in awhile. All these types of events are “attendable content” – great content, but you have to be there to soak it in.
  4. Collaborative Content, or “Interacting with Patrons”: Think of this as content that patrons create or help to create. This can be slightly more traditional, like taking a poll of favorite romance videos (and then placing those results online), or hip and emerging, like commenting on blogs, wiki content added by patrons, etc. But it’s all content coming directly from patrons.
  5. Library/Librarians as Content, or “Content About the Library”: This last one is a bit more of a hodge-podge (so if anyone has a better way to explain it, please chime in!). Here, I’m including library services, locations, staff contacts, etc – everything under that “about the library” link found on most library website pages. Steve Krug calls this type of information “Utilities.” Besides all that About stuff, here’s another couple examples of what I’d include in this section: information on your home-bound books program (a library service), or information about free wifi at the library (library service, freebie you can get when using the library).

Am I leaving out anything? Should this small list be expanded? Let me know…

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://blogaboutlibraries.com/ Steve

    For public libraries, I wonder if information about how people can help us should be put into the collaboration category, or whether it fits into the “about the library” category? I am referring to info about how people may volunteer, about fundraising, development, foundations, etc.
    Certainly, the events that a foundation or a friends group would sponsor goes into the attendable stuff, but I’m wondering if “support your library” fits into an “about the library” category.
    I may just be the kind of thing that gets sprinkled in all over the place. Just thinking out loud a little bit here.

    And generally, a comment about the “about the library” concept. I think libraries spend way too much time on it.

  • http://blogaboutlibraries.com Steve

    For public libraries, I wonder if information about how people can help us should be put into the collaboration category, or whether it fits into the “about the library” category? I am referring to info about how people may volunteer, about fundraising, development, foundations, etc.
    Certainly, the events that a foundation or a friends group would sponsor goes into the attendable stuff, but I’m wondering if “support your library” fits into an “about the library” category.
    I may just be the kind of thing that gets sprinkled in all over the place. Just thinking out loud a little bit here.

    And generally, a comment about the “about the library” concept. I think libraries spend way too much time on it.

  • http://www.librarywebchic.net/ Karen

    What about stuff we reuse? For example, what if you incorporate an RSS feed from another website into your library website.

  • http://www.librarywebchic.net Karen

    What about stuff we reuse? For example, what if you incorporate an RSS feed from another website into your library website.

  • Pingback: Alaska Bush Library Service » Library Web Page()

  • Pingback: Isaak’s Links - Types of Content on a Library Website and Others - 02 September 2006 at Isaak’s Thoughts()

  • edwina

    You forgot all that information we get like government documents and that elusive website on hairballs, all that stuff that we could find on our own but we ask a library staff person and get it so much faster (usually).

  • edwina

    You forgot all that information we get like government documents and that elusive website on hairballs, all that stuff that we could find on our own but we ask a library staff person and get it so much faster (usually).

  • Ann Boles

    This nit-picky cataloger has a request–please check the spelling of authors’ names before you use them on something this public. Danielle Steel’s name doesn’t have an “e” on the end of Steel.

  • Ann Boles

    This nit-picky cataloger has a request–please check the spelling of authors’ names before you use them on something this public. Danielle Steel’s name doesn’t have an “e” on the end of Steel.

  • Kate

    This seems complete to me. Odd to see it boiled down to 5 items. Number 4 is probably the least represented, but I’m sure that will change in time.

  • Kate

    This seems complete to me. Odd to see it boiled down to 5 items. Number 4 is probably the least represented, but I’m sure that will change in time.

  • Paul

    You don’t specifically mention online reference services such as email, chat and general “Write Us” mailboxes. By virtue of their back-and-forth nature, I would class them under Collaborative Content, even though you describe this category as “content coming directly from the patrons”. Even if a response isn’t visible to more than a single individual, it does require patron initiation. In fact, I would argue that the most significant growth in websites these days comes from just such personalized services, e.g. reserve/hold notifications, customized acquisition alerts, etc.

  • Paul

    You don’t specifically mention online reference services such as email, chat and general “Write Us” mailboxes. By virtue of their back-and-forth nature, I would class them under Collaborative Content, even though you describe this category as “content coming directly from the patrons”. Even if a response isn’t visible to more than a single individual, it does require patron initiation. In fact, I would argue that the most significant growth in websites these days comes from just such personalized services, e.g. reserve/hold notifications, customized acquisition alerts, etc.

  • davidleeking

    Paul – I’d definitely place email, chat, etc reference services in the collaborative, interacting with patrons category. And you’re right – that area is getting huge!

  • davidleeking

    Paul – I’d definitely place email, chat, etc reference services in the collaborative, interacting with patrons category. And you’re right – that area is getting huge!

  • davidleeking

    Edwina – you said “You forgot … government documents and that elusive website on hairballs, all that stuff that we could find on our own…”

    I agree with you – both of those are important content types. I’d put them in two separate (already represented) areas:

    Government documents and other non-book types of content – I’d place this content under traditional content. It’s not necessarily stuff we buy (gov docs especially), but it IS stuff we collect, house, and preserve. Electronic databases and paper-based indexes would go here as well.

    And “that elusive website on hairballs” I’d place under original content. I’m assuming here that you’re talking about a website out there somewhere that has great content, and isn’t owned by the library. No, the librarians didn’t create that site… but they created a type of original content when they placed the link on their subject guide for cats, or when they placed it in their database of web links and assigned it a subject heading.

    At that point, it becomes part of the original content that library staff have created.

  • davidleeking

    Edwina – you said “You forgot … government documents and that elusive website on hairballs, all that stuff that we could find on our own…”

    I agree with you – both of those are important content types. I’d put them in two separate (already represented) areas:

    Government documents and other non-book types of content – I’d place this content under traditional content. It’s not necessarily stuff we buy (gov docs especially), but it IS stuff we collect, house, and preserve. Electronic databases and paper-based indexes would go here as well.

    And “that elusive website on hairballs” I’d place under original content. I’m assuming here that you’re talking about a website out there somewhere that has great content, and isn’t owned by the library. No, the librarians didn’t create that site… but they created a type of original content when they placed the link on their subject guide for cats, or when they placed it in their database of web links and assigned it a subject heading.

    At that point, it becomes part of the original content that library staff have created.

  • davidleeking

    Karen – sorry I didn’t answer your question yet! With an external RSS feed, I’d say it depends on where you’re using it and what you’re using it for.

    For example – on KCPL’s subject guide pages, they have the capability to drop, say, a yahoo news feed about movies onto their Entertainment subject guide. I’d classify that use as part of original content, since the library is rebranding the content to fit within their subject guide setting.

    Hmm… honestly, I think MOST of that type of info would go there, mainly because of the re-use or re-branding aspect of it.

  • davidleeking

    Karen – sorry I didn’t answer your question yet! With an external RSS feed, I’d say it depends on where you’re using it and what you’re using it for.

    For example – on KCPL’s subject guide pages, they have the capability to drop, say, a yahoo news feed about movies onto their Entertainment subject guide. I’d classify that use as part of original content, since the library is rebranding the content to fit within their subject guide setting.

    Hmm… honestly, I think MOST of that type of info would go there, mainly because of the re-use or re-branding aspect of it.

  • davidleeking

    Steve – I’d put most of the “how you can help the library” things under about the library. That would all be information ABOUT how to help, hence the about moniker for them.

    ven with someing very direct, like a donate now page that asks for, say, a credit card number… the patron isn’t really creating any content. The only actaul content created was the form itself, which is all about helping the library (which I’d put in the About section).

  • davidleeking

    Steve – I’d put most of the “how you can help the library” things under about the library. That would all be information ABOUT how to help, hence the about moniker for them.

    ven with someing very direct, like a donate now page that asks for, say, a credit card number… the patron isn’t really creating any content. The only actaul content created was the form itself, which is all about helping the library (which I’d put in the About section).

  • J. Schult

    As far as spending “too much time” on “about the library” – one of the most FAQ is about the library hours, and you’ve got to have the address and phone/fax numbers, also!

    Okay, so that doesn’t take time, but it deserves high-priority space on the page.

    MHO,
    —Dancing Librarian

  • J. Schult

    As far as spending “too much time” on “about the library” – one of the most FAQ is about the library hours, and you’ve got to have the address and phone/fax numbers, also!

    Okay, so that doesn’t take time, but it deserves high-priority space on the page.

    MHO,
    —Dancing Librarian

  • Kim Radcliff Smith

    I think your article was significant because it simplified the basic requirements of a library website. I think my library Cameron University, does a fine job of illustrating a library website that contains all five of the categories of content that he outlines. However, I was thinking, shouldn’t there be something more? I was kind of waiting for your punchline. Especially in the light of what I have learned in my MLIS course this semester (Design and Implementation of Web-Based Information Services) so far. New ideas, concepts, and ways of handling new technology and the challenges that librarians should respond to. For instance, should there be links to other kinds of intellectual stimulation for the users, such as a toolbar that contains links to SL, Google Scholar, Wikipedia, Blogger, and similar products?

  • Kim Radcliff Smith

    I think your article was significant because it simplified the basic requirements of a library website. I think my library Cameron University, does a fine job of illustrating a library website that contains all five of the categories of content that he outlines. However, I was thinking, shouldn’t there be something more? I was kind of waiting for your punchline. Especially in the light of what I have learned in my MLIS course this semester (Design and Implementation of Web-Based Information Services) so far. New ideas, concepts, and ways of handling new technology and the challenges that librarians should respond to. For instance, should there be links to other kinds of intellectual stimulation for the users, such as a toolbar that contains links to SL, Google Scholar, Wikipedia, Blogger, and similar products?

  • http://www.bluefountainmedia.com/ Ralph emerson

    Librarians like to share. We collaborate well, freely offer our services and experience to others, and enjoy doing it.

  • http://www.bluefountainmedia.com Ralph emerson

    Librarians like to share. We collaborate well, freely offer our services and experience to others, and enjoy doing it.

  • http://www.vividads.com.au/ Exhibition displays

    The main thing to remember here is to be format-agnostic. For example, libraries collect books – paper books, audio books, ebooks, digital audio books, etc. but they’re all books.

  • http://www.vividads.com.au/ Exhibition displays

    The main thing to remember here is to be format-agnostic. For example, libraries collect books – paper books, audio books, ebooks, digital audio books, etc. but they’re all books.

  • Kim

    Can you please show me a checklist of content features for academic library websites design? Thanks.

  • Kim

    Can you please show me a checklist of content features for academic library websites design? Thanks.

  • http://www.myaudiobookshelf.com/ Nick

    Is there a place for public domain content and literature too? By this I mean basically Traditional Content, or “Stuff we don’t have to buy because it’s now free” For example out of copyright works, amateur audiobook recordings, government declassified or open to all info and so on. For example, http://www.ibiblio.org – a huge “collections of collections” a conservancy of freely available information, including software, music, literature, art, history, science, politics, and cultural studies.

  • http://www.myaudiobookshelf.com Nick

    Is there a place for public domain content and literature too? By this I mean basically Traditional Content, or “Stuff we don’t have to buy because it’s now free” For example out of copyright works, amateur audiobook recordings, government declassified or open to all info and so on. For example, http://www.ibiblio.org – a huge “collections of collections” a conservancy of freely available information, including software, music, literature, art, history, science, politics, and cultural studies.

  • davidleeking

    Nick – right, public domain content that we link to or otherwise feature would probably fit into number 1 (or possibly 2 as well). Thanks for the comment!

  • davidleeking

    Nick – right, public domain content that we link to or otherwise feature would probably fit into number 1 (or possibly 2 as well). Thanks for the comment!

  • Dhanashree

    Could we arrive at some content ratio here?? And would that justify if the library is active in the right places?? Like to say collaborative or original content if more than half of the rest ..means the library has quality content and good following??

  • Dhanashree

    Could we arrive at some content ratio here?? And would that justify if the library is active in the right places?? Like to say collaborative or original content if more than half of the rest ..means the library has quality content and good following??

  • http://www.targetwebdesign.com.au/ samuel

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  • http://www.targetwebdesign.com.au/ samuel

    mmm interesting book love it to bits what do you think about advertising it on my web site under the designers section? http://www.targetwebdesign.com.au/ let me know

    cheers

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  • http://www.a-frame-signs.com.au A-frame signs

    Here in Australia libraries are very community orientated. Young hildren are encouraged to become members

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