You can enhance your library’s resources and services for engaging readers and supporting learning through having a dynamic online presence. One way to achieve this is to build a web presence – either operating through your school’s website or intranet, or having a standalone website that links with your school’s website.
Introduction to building a library website presence
Forms of website presence
Planning your library’s website presence
Gather information and do your research
Resources to help get you started
Examples of effective school library websites
Digitised resources and mobile technologies are enabling school libraries to extend their resources and physical spaces to include online services. In a modern library learning environment (MLLE) your virtual space connects you to your school, the wider school community, and the world.
We explore some of the options you can use for your school library’s online presence in School libraries: developing an online presence.
In this section we focus on one of the available options to your planning team - building a website for the library. We'll look at the forms of website presence, some planning guidelines, and examples of vibrant school library websites.
There are two basic options for building your library’s website presence:
- Operating from within the school’s website or intranet
- Operating a standalone website that links back to, and from the school website/intranet.
To help your planning team decide between these two options, see this comparative chart: Forms of website presence: benefits and issues.
We're using the term 'website presence' to cover both options - whether you decide on a standalone website, or a page within the school's website or intranet.
Using a combination of online tools
Some schools have chosen to use a combination of online tools. For example, building a website and embedding social media, such as a blog, to enable exchanges between students, teachers, parents/whānau and the library team.
At Raroa Intermediate, for example, the Library Manager first created a website using Weebly, then included a reading blog.
For further information on types of social media and planning considerations, see Social media and the school library.
A team approach will help you produce a plan linked to student learning outcomes, showing ways the library can develop inclusive online learning spaces.
It is vital that your library’s online presence is an integral and continuing part of your school’s Managed Learning Environment, and is aligned to your school’s digital citizenship programme and social media strategy.
As a starting point, we've come up with 7 steps to help you plan and set up a website for your school library:
- Agree your goals and objectives first. This fundamental step will give you the framework for the rest of your planning.
- Form your planning team – identify key stakeholders and agree on roles and responsibilities, including who will contribute to, and take long-term responsibility for, your website.
- Understand your learners and learning focus – the reason for creating a website.
- Align your web presence with the school’s policies and integrate it within your existing online environment so it's easy for your students to find and use.
- Be sure to address the intended benefits and possible risks for your students.
- Select the online content you’ll begin with – in line with your students' learning needs and learning styles.
- Plan for ongoing management including resources your school will need to ensure sustainability.
The following downloadable templates and checklist may help as you research and develop your library’s online presence:
- School library online planning template
- School library online planning template worked example
- School library online content ideas checklist
While gathering information in the research stage before developing your web presence you might:
- talk to others and ask questions, particularly if your school has a website or intranet the library can use as a base for a library page
- carry out some research online, to get ideas from other sites, and start to see patterns of use - see some examples of effective school library websites below
- join professional learning networks, see Keeping current: professional networking
- find out how the school library’s website presence and any embedded social media tools, such as a Book Club blog, will work together and complement each other
- check online resources for help guides and tutorials to create your web page. For example, Google Sites is an app for creating, editing and sharing a website, while most social media tools offer help pages and examples of their use
- look at how you can ensure the sustainability of your site:
- who will take responsibility for keeping your website current
- who will be responsible for editing and loading content
- the staffing hours this is likely to take
- ongoing professional development.
Here are some guides that provide excellent advice, design tips, and how-to instructions for setting up your library website.
- Five things every school library website should have from Library Girl's blog.
- Writing school library web pages from the Resources for School Librarians website - provides a list of annotated links about developing a web presence for your library. Design ideas includes tips for designing and setting up web pages. This is followed by Writing your page (with more helpful links) and Sample sites from all kinds of libraries (not just schools).
- Digital citizenship - when setting up your library homepage it is important to be aware of Internet protocols and Internet safety and your school’s social media policy.
- Keeping current: professional networking
Take a look at some examples of school library homepages from New Zealand and other countries, to use as inspiration for your own.
- Bayfarm Elementary School (California, US)
- Auburn North Primary School (NSW, Australia) - a highly visual site as 97 percent of their student population is NESB with a third of their enrolment being refugees.
- Springston School Library (New Zealand)
- Raroa Normal Intermediate School (New Zealand)