May 17, 2022

“What Makes a Good Library Website? (New Paper from the Syracuse University iSchool Public Library Initiative (IPLI))

From a Syracuse University iSchool Blog Post by Sabrina Unrein (Author of the Report):

In the autumn of 2018, the iSchool Public Library Initiative (IPLI) worked on a project that involved collecting library statistics. One of the main sources for this data were state library websites. As a former web developer, as well as a patron of these pages, it was difficult for me to not notice the lack of consistency in usability and design. I began brainstorming what made certain websites great, and what any library could do to improve their patrons’ experience.

That process inspired this paper. This paper was developed as a tool to evaluate their current web design and features for librarians and their website administrators. It involved using and evaluating all 50 state library websites and noting what made some websites more successful than others, as well as general trends in design.


There were several features that consistently came up as needing improvement. One was outdated design, and how those designs often equate to inaccessibility for patrons using screen readers, or how difficult those websites might be for patrons to use. Improvements in one area can often lead to solutions for other problems patrons may face. For instance, updating a website’s design will likely make it more accessible.

Not all library websites need to look alike or perform the same functions. But they should all take into consideration security, accessibility, design, contact information, and what can make their website stand out as particularly useful to their patrons. This paper addresses those topics, and proposes potential solutions to the following problems:

  • Avoiding an ADA lawsuit by improving accessibility for all patrons
  • Making a website’s design look more modern and easy to use
  • Implementing HTTPS improves search engine optimization (SEO)
  • The importance of web security

Read the Complete Blog Post

Direct to Full Text Paper: What Makes a Good Library Website?
24 pages; PDF.

Direct to iSchool Public Library Initiative (IPLI)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.