Decoding the Web

Taking the mystery out of back-end development, metrics, and more

January 3, 2023

Photo of Librarian's Library columnist Andy Gooding-Call

A library’s online presence is among the most public points of entry for students and patrons. Given this importance and the bevy of titles that make web development more accessible, understanding the topic no longer falls only in the realm of web developers. Whether you’re deciding on a content management system that is right for you, learning about analytics, or making website enhancements, these titles can help take the mystery out of web support and development.

Learning from Libraries That Use WordPress: Content-Management System Best Practices and Case Studies Learning from Libraries That Use WordPress: Content-Management System Best Practices and Case Studies
By Kyle M. L. Jones and Polly-Alida Farrington
The first part of this indispensable resource is an overview of WordPress. Not only does it cover the basics of this popular content management system, but it also includes the decision-making process for starting a WordPress site, how to choose plugins and themes, and what to do in special situations that call for customization. The book is appropriate for advanced beginners in networking and technological subjects. No coding experience is necessary, but the reader should know something about servers and how they work. Any library with a WordPress site—or especially one that is considering starting one—needs this book. ALA Editions, 2013. 176 p. $67. PBK. 978-0-8389-1162-4. (Also available as an ebook.)

Modular Online Learning Design: A Flexible Approach for Diverse Learning NeedsModular Online Learning Design: A Flexible Approach for Diverse Learning Needs
By Amanda Nichols Hess
With online instruction likely to remain important, this text should be considered critical to any academic librarian responsible for information literacy training. As a soup-to-nuts guide to online learning, it not only educates the reader about how to create effective learning modules but also takes them through a detailed planning, execution, and evaluation process. Concerns about accessibility, which sometimes get lost in online learning modules, are the subject of a full, nuanced chapter. This part in particular should be required reading for any academic or school librarian. Also of interest is the author’s methods for future-proofing online learning programs. A good option for both beginners and seasoned veterans of online education. ALA Editions, 2020. 144 p. $65.99. PBK. 978-0-8389-4812-5. (Also available as an ebook.)

Using Digital Analytics for Smart AssessmentUsing Digital Analytics for Smart Assessment
By Tabatha Farney
Any library interested in doing a deeper dive on its statistics would do well to glance at this text. Whether a library manages its own webpage, social media presence, or database subscriptions, the book has original insights on how to set up, manage, and use analysis for all types of data that can be digitized. This is true of data that is born-digital and data that originates in real life. The first half is a thorough how-to on analytics, starting with why this kind of evaluation is useful for a library and going right through to cover the different available tools, including a list of URLs with an analysis of each resource’s strengths and weaknesses. Particularly helpful are the author’s personal recommendations and experience in the field of digital analytics. ALA Editions, 2018. 168 p. $65. PBK. 978-0-8389-1598-1. (Also available as an ebook.)

Library Web Development: Beyond Tips and TricksLibrary Web Development: Beyond Tips and Tricks
By Jason Bengtson
Librarians who have taught themselves to support web functionality as well as professional web developers who work with libraries will likely find this short, handy book an invaluable resource. It is based around several task-oriented scenarios—from dealing with Google Analytics to visualizing a multilayer image—that often come up in library web support. Unlike many coding textbooks, it has a conversational tone that makes it an easy and even fun read. The book includes a lot of code and shouldn’t be considered a primer for beginners. Suggested prerequisites include a strong grasp of JavaScript, HTML, XML, and JSON at least. But for librarians and library partners who are already experienced in web development, the book should offer plenty of good ideas and guidance. ALA Editions, 2019. 144 p. $69.99. PBK. 978-0-8389-1830-2. (Also available as an ebook.)

Going Virtual: Programs and Insights from a Time of CrisisGoing Virtual: Programs and Insights from a Time of Crisis
By Sarah Ostman
If you’re searching for no-touch programming ideas, look no further. This book profiles a range of programs covering every conceivable topic and drawn from actual library events; helpfully, the book provides the name of the libraries that helmed them. Many of the programs are virtual events, but others don’t require computer access except for promotional purposes. In one notable example, a library set up a socially distanced wildflower walk in a field and allowed patrons to guide themselves using flags. Public libraries are most likely to benefit from the book, but school librarians and teachers may discover practical ideas as well. While the initial COVID-19 lockdown of 2020 is over, the continued popularity of virtual programs will make this engaging volume useful for many years to come. ALA Editions, 2021. 104 p. $34.99. PBK. 978-0-8389-4878-1. (Also available as an ebook.)

The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Content MarketingThe Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Content Marketing
By Laura Solomon
Content is any information that your library posts online, from Twitter posts to Facebook replies. Solomon’s book, appropriate for complete beginners, emphasizes the importance of having a content strategy, describes how to create one, and offers instruction on how to execute good content and content management. While this may sound intimidating to libraries yet to find their place on social media, the author does a great job of breaking it all down in an informal, relaxed way. A brief overview of general content marketing strategy concludes with sample marketing content drawn from the real world. This title could be especially useful for libraries that initially “winged it” and now wish to present themselves online in a more organized and orderly, or even branded, way. ALA Editions, 2016. 128 p. $50. PBK. 978-0-8389-1432-8. (Also available as an ebook.)


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