Research critical of Public Library websites… but there is hope!

Research by SOCITM is critical of the integration between online library services and councils’ main websites.

Yet five out of the seven councils praised for the quality of their online experience used Axiell Arena, so let’s take a look at how you can improve your library’s online presence.

The online presence of an organisation is increasingly important to their ongoing success in the digital age, with appearance seen as reflective of quality of service and outdated sites often deemed untrustworthy.

User Experience

User experience was highlighted as a key flaw on council websites, with many users finding the navigation from council site to OPAC ‘confusing’, because of differences in design and layout when entering the third-party system.

“One of our reviewers remarked: ‘Taking the ‘renew library books’ link from the main council site immediately changes the site ‘look and feel’, confusing the user”.

Axiell customers perhaps fared so well in SOCITM’s study because Axiell Arena is flexible and customisable, so as to fit with the rest of the council’s website and overall branding. This means consistency can be maintained as the user clicks into the library’s online services; confusion averted.


The SOCITM report suggests that councils aren’t developing their sites fast enough in line with web developments such as social media.

Arena customers, however, benefit from the social features incorporated into the discovery tool, such as user comments, ratings and reviews. These interactions can be used to improve the user experience by making search more relevant to users.

What’s more, in our Library of the Future study, we found that 27% of 16-24 year-olds would be interested in seeing their library provide social platforms. So the appetite from the community is there.


But innovation doesn’t end there. The library of the future is likely to feature digital content at its heart and, in order to keep up with suppliers such as Amazon, libraries must grasp this evolution with both hands.

Although most public libraries now offer e-books and audiobooks, loans are often completed away from the OPAC on third party suppliers’ sites. The need for multiple logins complicates the act, creating barriers to conversion and leads to a poor user experience.

With the integration of eHUB into Arena, this isn’t the case. Digital content is discoverable in the same search results as its physical counterparts and can be reserved and even downloaded then and there. No need to leave the library site.

It’s worth noting that this study was published before recent updates and improvements to Arena. You can read about how we’ve made Arena even better.

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