I recently started revamping my personal site. I thought I’d get it all nice and polished and be off to doing more exciting things with my free time. But of course, things come up that seem more interesting, or have deadlines tied to them, so I put off the detailed work of my website.
It doesn’t help that I’m reading more and more about the “death” of the personal homepage and the rise of the blog. The other day, the ACRLog had a thorough analysis of this trend for academic librarians thanks to Steven Bell. So, I’m coming around to the idea that maybe my homepage doesn’t matter as much as my blog: a place with constantly changing information and a place where others can join in conversation.
If this is happening to homepages, could it be that organizations aren’t far behind? Could corporations, not for profits, and libraries forgo a homepage for a blog (or community oriented site)? The Ann Arbor Library District site is primarily blog, with lots of other information once you dig in a little bit.
This leads me to thinking about the purpose of the website. Is it there for people to find resources quickly? Is the site primarily to help users use the library? Is it an educational tool? A repository of all things library related? Perhaps it’s a vehicle to share current library news, or an online third place? Probably it’s some combination of all of these, but I wonder what the driving reasons are for our patrons when they seek out our website. (Notice I’m only talking about the folks seeking out our sites here. I’m not mentioning the people who stumble onto it via content that was found in a Google search, etc.)
If a user’s primary interest is finding materials, shouldn’t we strive for a Google-like, fast and easy to use search interface? If people really want a third place, shouldn’t there be a lot of opportunities for user generated content? If people want current information, wouldn’t a blog suffice?
So, I’m not sure that library sites will be eclipsed by library blogs, but I do wonder what the perfect library page might look like (and yes, I know that would change for each community). Do you have any ideas?