Amy vanGoethem


A public library’s website is often the first introduction that a user has to the library. Users come to the website looking for information about the library’s location, hours, how to get a library card, library programs, search the library catalog, or other services. As Poll writes, “Libraries have started to offer a new virtual ‘entrance’ to their services: the library website” (2007, p. 1). As such, a library’s website must provide users with the information they are seeking simply and clearly. People expect websites to be simple to use and to be able to find the information they are seeking quickly; simply put “if it’s convenient, they will use it; if not, they won’t” (Nielsen & Loranger, 2006, Preface, xxi). Ideally, a public library’s website will fulfill these needs for their community. The library website should provide information to patrons in a way that the majority of its users will understand. Providing access to information is a key component of the mission of public libraries and the library website is often the first stop for patrons looking to access library resources. This study is a web analysis of Chicago area public libraries in RAILS (Reaching Across Illinois Library System) using checklists based on the work of Chow, Commander, and Bridges (2014), Powers (2011) and Vargas Ochoa (2020).