This page is older archived content from an older version of the Emerald Publishing website.

As such, it may not display exactly as originally intended.

David Lee King:The complete library lives online

Options:     PDF Version - David Lee King:The complete library lives online Print view

Image: The complete library lives online

Your library's website is probably one of the most important parts of today's library. I might be a bit biased – I have worked with library websites for over 20 years. But still – today's library website, if done well, tells the "whole story" of your library.

Image: David Lee KingDavid Lee King

David Lee King is the Digital Services Director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, where he plans, implements, and experiments with emerging technology trends.

He speaks internationally about emerging trends, website management, digital experience, and social media, and has been published in many library-related journals. David is a Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

His newest book is Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections.

David blogs at

Read David's other articles…

What do I mean by that?

If you think about it, your library's website is the only place where your customers can access the "complete library." Here are some examples of the complete library being online.

Example #1: Calendar of Events

Do you print a newsletter or calendar of events? My library does. We mail a print newsletter to almost 80,000 households every two months. Every so often we experience this – right after our newsletter goes to print, something changes. The date or time of the event changes, the speaker got sick and can't attend, or the event was cancelled because of the weather.

Frustrating, right? Thankfully, today's library has an online version of their calendar of events on the website. If event details change, you can just update the website to reflect the new information. The print version of your calendar is more of a "snapshot in time." You can't change it – the print version reflects the plan at the time the calendar was sent to be printed.

The complete, most accurate calendar is found online.

Image: The complete library lives online

Example #2: the library catalogue

Your ILS – your library catalogue –  is the only way to access catalogue records. And it's the only place to access the complete catalogue. If you visit the library building and browse the library's collection of materials, you are not able to browse everything. At any one time, a good chunk of your collection is checked out. But you can still access the record, and put the item on hold, using the online catalogue.

Access to the complete library collection is found online.

Example #3: reference services

One more example – how about your reference services? Many libraries have shrunk the physical items in their reference collection and have replaced those resources with online databases and other comparable digital resources.

You also don't have to wait in line, in the building, at the reference desk to ask a question anymore. At my library, you can ask a reference question by phone, email, online chat, and text message. And through Facebook and Twitter.

As our libraries slowly transition to becoming powerful online resources, it's good to reflect and remember that as those services and service points move online, our library resources need to follow. Budgets need to change; staffing might need to change, too. Training certainly needs to change. 

Yes, our library buildings are certainly still important! But our library website is, too. It's the only way to access the complete library. Start treating it that way, and make your library website a great resource for your community.