UKOLNManaging the Virtual Branch: Public Library Web Managers Workshop 2000

Tuesday 10th, Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th October 2000
University of Bath


The workshop report is now available.

Tuesday 10th October

The Public Library Web Site 2003: The Virtual Branch  – Sarah Ormes (UKOLN)
By the 2003 public library Web sites will be at the heart of all sorts of public library services. This presentation explored what these Web sites will look like, the kind of services they will deliver and what this will mean for the Web managers. 

Government Web Standards - Paul Miller (UKOLN)
Last year the UK Government published standards for UK Government websites. This presentation discussed what was covered by these standards, how realistic they were and how well they have been adhered to.

Successful Library Web site Case Studies
Speakers from three Local Authorities shared tips, hints and learning experiences about how they put together their Web sites and the issues and problems that they had to overcome.

Wednesday 11th October 

Making Your Site More Dynamic – Andy Powell (UKOLN)
Does your Web site look the same to everyone? Does it allow people to interact with you over the Web? This talk looked at techniques for making your Web site more dynamic including the use of CGI scripts, Active Server Pages, database connectivity, cookies and personalisation.

The Public Library as a Gateway to the Internet: Developing an effective filter for your users without the heavy maintenance - Justine Kitchen (RDN)
Although the Internet is becoming an invaluable tool for finding information, evidence suggests that users face increasing difficulties in discovering relevant, timely information quickly and effectively. In order to address this, many libraries are endeavouring to provide their own lists of recommended lists. However, if sufficient planning is not devoted to this activity at the outset, it can result in high maintenance, which busy staff can ill afford. This session looked at how library gateways can provide users with an effective, well managed filter or gateway to the Internet, without an unnecessary burden.

Accessibility and Your Web Site – David Egan and Joanna Widdows (National Library for the Blind) 
The session concentrated on three main themes: firstly, design for all and the factors that are driving the push for accessible Web design; secondly, myths and tips - the do's, don'ts and fallacies of accessible Web design; and finally, the proof of the pudding - some examples of Web sites that do and don't work [including a display of screen reader technology].

Data Protection and Your Web Site – Adrian Tribe (Birbeck, University of London)
Whilst issues of design, presentation and useful content are often high on the agenda of every Web manager, the legal responsibilities that accompany this new publishing opportunity are not usually considered to be worthy of such careful consideration! One area that is frequently overlooked is that of Data Protection. This presentation outlined the requirements of the 1998 UK Data Protection Act, in particular as they relate to Web sites, and highlighted the most important issues that need to be taken into account by Public Library Web Managers to ensure compliance with the law in this area..

Parallel Sessions

  1. Hands-on Guide to Working with Stylesheets – Manjula Patel (UKOLN)
    This tutorial took a "hands-on" approach to learning about the basics of style sheets. Participants learnt why style sheets are useful in both designing and maintaining Web sites. They created their own HTML documents with styles incorporated in several different ways and validated their own style sheets using an online validation tool. They also explored the current state of the art in style sheet activity, its benefits and drawbacks.

  2. Developing an Online Magazine – Marieke Napier (UKOLN)
    This workshop provided an overview of the process of setting up and implementing an online magazine. It covered the key areas of thinking through what you want, technology and resources, design, content, publicity and promotion and finally evaluation and auditing. Other common issues such as access, electronic format, editing and delivery were also be considered. The development process was illustrated by brief case studies of magazines that have addressed some of these issues. A few of the prominent electronic journals in the library/networking communities were assessed and considered to see if they work well or not. The workshop involved lots of hands-on tasks and group work.

  3. The Career Development of a Web Officer - Peter Griffiths, Home Office
    The workshop examined the skills required for Web work, and asked which are appropriate for public library Webmasters and Web staff. It covered employers' current requirements in Web work, and examined what the specialist recruitment agencies consider to be the core skills. 

  4. Auditing and Evaluating Web Sites - Brian Kelly, UKOLN
    In this hands-on session participants tried out a range of tools which can be used to evaluate and audit Web sites. The session made use of tools which can evaluate both individual pages and entire Web sites. The session concluded with a group discussion which formulated recommendations for further work, both by the delegates themselves within their own organisation and by national or regional bodies.

Thursday 12th October 

Publicising Your Web Site with Search Engines - Marieke Napier, UKOLN
Creating a slick, user friendly, informative Web site is not enough these days. To dramatically increase the number of users and traffic flow to your site you will need to raise its profile. There are numerous ways to do this including writing to mailing lists and advertising in the press. One of the most successful ways you can help Internet users find your site is through the use of search engines. This presentation covered 'search engine friendly' design and considered the use of metatags, URLs, and the robots.txt files. It also outlined how to actually submit your site, which search engines to use, how to check for problems, and touch on using statistics to analyse the usage of your site.

Behind the Scenes - a Guide to Web Site Infrastructure - Pete Cliff, UKOLN
OK, so you've got a website, and you've got some visitors. More and more of your staff are pestering you for a share of your site and before you know it you have a chaotic mass of pages that are impossible to maintain! This presentation suggested some ways you can design an ordered, scalable site right from the start and suggest some reasons why this is important.

Commissioning A Web Site - Martin Belcher, ILRT
What are the issues that you need to consider when commissioning various aspects of a Web site (ranging from design through to coding and full technical implementation)? This session focused on the issues behind developing a design brief or service specification that can be used to commission third-party Web developers. The talk was primarily aimed at those looking at engaging external consultants. However, those who wish to offer their Web developer services on a consultancy basis may also find it useful, as many of the issues are applicable to both people commissioning and consulting.

Externally Hosted Web Services - Brian Kelly, UKOLN
Providing a Web service is easy. All you need is a Unix box, the Apache Web server software and tools to create HTML pages. However as Web services develop organisations find themselves under increasing pressure to implement new facilities, which may cost money or require technical support - resources which may be in short supply in public libraries. In this talk Brian Kelly described a range of externally hosted Web services which can provide a range of services for little or no cost and which require minimal technical support. Is this too good to be true, or is there a catch?