Best Practices for Library Website Design

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Best Practices for Library Website Design

Harry Bartlett

Library websites have the opportunity to provide an exceptional community experience as well as access to virtually unlimited proprietary content. And since a library is often a prominent civic building, the website needs to complement the extensive services that are provided. This combined with a library's historic role of fostering civic discourse, provides an extraordinary opportunity to create powerful, comprehensive websites.

Here are some features we believe are important, gathered from our experience creating library websites over the past few years.

Key Features of a 21st Century Library Website:

User Interface Design

  • A visually compelling design, often with full-screen imagery
  • Large visual mega menu dropdowns
  • Book and media carousels showing book covers or other content
  • Interactive floor plans
  • Section 508 compliance, providing access to disabled users
  • Print-friendly templates with re-sizable text
  • Extensive photo and video galleries
  • Other features such as a leaving site graphic and a favicon

Content Management

  • Drupal, an open source, best in class content management system (CMS) used by hundreds of small and large libraries
  • A responsive web design (RWD) for optimal display on mobile devices
  • Google Translate or custom multi-lingual translation capability
  • Onsite and catalog search, including OPAC (online public access catalog) integration
  • Multiple calendars for adults, young adults, children, community, and other groups
  • Customizable rules based on room reservation system, with extensive features such as: stud and room reservations, permissions, private bookings, automated approval emails and more
  • Custom content types for better management of various kinds of content, such as events, jobs, and more.
  • Content expiration
  • AV help notification for people who need help with audio visual equipment when reserving a room
  • Link tester that reviews any broken or missing links


  • Social media integration includes Facebook 'like' counters, Twitter counters, and share buttons
  • Automated digital marketing, such as email sigh-up forms
  • Extensive website analytics and dashboards
  • Free Google Analytics with goal setups and reports emailed monthly
  • Email marketing for increasing community engagement
  • RSS feeds
  • Ask a librarian feature
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices and tools, including customized meta descriptions, page titles, alt tags, and more
  • Content marketing
  • CRM integration (, MS Dynamics)


  • member profiles, the ability to join groups, post content, and communicate with other members
  • Forums and job postings
  • Feedback and book advice
  • Library card registration
  • Donate capability, either on-site or through 3rd parties such as Network for Good
  • Blog creation
  • Commenting and rating system
  • Polls and surveys
  • Intranets, Extranets, private secure areas

About the author

Harry started BI in 1998 and focuses on integrating best practices in branding, user experience design, Internet marketing, and technology to increase the value of an online presence.
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