My friend and colleague David Loertscher send me a link to his newest creation: The Virtual Learning Commons - a thoughtful template for a useful, collaborative, and comprehensive school library website. He writes:
Thought you might enjoy taking a look at a Virtual Learning Commons template that my students and I have developed as we have looked across a couple of years development attempting to replace the boring and dead library websites. I am debuting it in Syracuse on Wed and a couple of workshops.
It turns the library website into a giant collaborative and each major page can allow approved teachers and students to post alongside other experts in the school. Anyway, it is simple to just download the template, rename it to your school and start building...
Here is the url: https://sites.google.com/site/templatevlc/
As a profession, we've been building webpages for our libraries for, what, 15 years or more? Yet in my experience, school websites display a huge range of features, content, readability, design sense, and usefulness. Do we need some specific conventions that all librarians should abide by when constructing their libraries pages? I'll start with seven that seem to be no-brainers. (Dr. Loetscher's VLC pages can be comprehensive; I'll be barebones.)
Every school library web site must display:
- The name and location of the school of which it is a part, both a contact phone number and e-mail address, and the date the page was last updated.
- Links to its electronic resources including its library catalog, databases, and e-book collections.
- Calendars of library-related events and links to calendars with schedules of class visits, lab bookings, etc.
- The library mission statement, its long-range goals, and current objectives.
- Link to the latest library newsletter, annual report, and up-to-date usage data.
- Link to lists of recently acquired new resources.
- Link to forms for requesting materials.
In our district with its dozen school libraries, we've worked toward a balance of commonality of content, organization, and design among all of them, while still allowing librarians to create sites that reflect each program's unique attributes. It's a balance for sure.
Developing some common standards for all school library webpages would be good for libraries, but would be especially helpful for library users.