04.03.2021 | Print version

Usability of library online services

Due to the growing popularity of the internet, the increasing digitization of knowledge and the development of new technologies (e.g. e-book readers, AJAX, apps) the environment in which libraries operate has changed considerably. So has their role as information providers. In order to deliver optimum services, libraries need to evolve with these new circumstances. This is indicated in the strategic planning of the library federation IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions). IFLA is encouraging its member institutions to work with partners and users to tap the full potential of digital technologies, with a view to providing a seamless and open access to cultural assets and information resources (IFLA 2012).

While the objectives are clearly defined, there are as yet no detailed guidelines about how to ensure high usability and thus to realize the added value of newly developed services. Extant usability heuristics and guidelines are fairly general, providing only limited assistance to individuals with comparatively little experience in the field of human-computer-interaction.

Our project Opens external link in new windowElibEval (a part of the collaboration and innovation initiative Opens external link in new window"Swiss Electronic Library" - e-lib.ch) fills a gap here. In this project we developed a catalogue of evaluation criteria (BibEval) for online library services. This catalogue can be used both for evaluating and for designing library online services.

BibEval can be used in two ways. The first variant is the use of BibEval without registration or a user account. In this case individually arranged criteria catalogues cannot be stored in the web application. Also no preliminary results of evaluations can be stored in the application. Therefore, this variant is preferably only used for small evaluations with only one expert and a short list of evaluation criteria.

For larger projects it is recommended to create a user account. In this case a project administration is available for BibEval. The project administration supports the accomplishment of evaluations with several experts as well as the storage of preliminary evaluation results in the web application.