The first library reviewed in my study is the library system that I used as a child, which I had the opportunity to visit while at my parents’ house over the holiday. The Salt Lake County Library system is a large county library system with 19 branches that serve a population of just under a million residents , 75% of which have library cards. In 2007 they reported 13,585,286 items circulted, from a collection of around 2 milion items. Not only are their branches busy, with around 4.3 million visitors in 2007, but their website recieved almost 8 million visits from outside of the library.
I selected this library as a complement to the other large library system I am reviewing, because it is of a similar size and has a similar budget. It also has an impressive web presence, offering a virtual library experience to its customers, many of whom take advantage of it. They reported impressive numbers of patrons using their electronic resources: 11,830,982 catalog searches, 981,953 searches of their 72 electronic databases.
My inital questions for my study of this library revolve around determining what specific electronic resources they have, what pathways there are to use them, and to what extent these libraries have information avalible to assist children, parents, and teachers in their use both on their website and in their physical buildings.
Originally, I had planned on starting a new blog for my final project, but upon consideration I thought it would be appropriate to host the work for my final project on my blog here, as it is a location dedicated to my professional work and was founded to share my ideas on literacy and particularly in libraries. One of the most important directions that literacy in libraries is headed is towards promoting the skills needed to use the electronic tools that more and more libraries are adopting and investing so much time and money on adding to their websites’. So, I will be using this blog to track the process of my project, to present my conclusions, and host the tools I plan on creating to help resolve some of the accessibility issues I’m discovering.
For my final project for my Master’s in Library Science degree, I am reviewing the electronic presences of four libraries in order to determine to what degree they provide assistance to children, teachers, and parents in using the various digital tools they offer. All of the libraries reviewed provide a variety of services for patrons on their websites, ranging from the OPAC (online public access catalog), subscription databases, downloadable e-books and audio books, RSS, as well as other Library 2.0 type technologies. The degree to which these tools are accessible varies depending on the website and the service. Some tools are difficult to access because they are buried in the website, while others lack clear directions in how to use the service. However, the largest barrier to use of most libraries’ electronic services is that they lack sufficient explanation to illustrate why someone would want to use the service through a clear description of what can be achieved through its use and the audience it is directed towards.
In my next posts, I will introduce the four libraries I am reviewing and then talk about some of the services they offer.