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The Halifax Public Library Teen Website

March 29, 2013

Bibliographic Information (APA): The Halifax Public Library. (2013). “Teens Halifax Public Libraries.” [Website]. Retrieved from http://www.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca/teens.html

Category: Teen Library Website

Descriptive Summary: Think that libraries are stuffy and boring places with just old-fashioned books? Think again! The Halifax Public Library (HPL) has so much to offer teens, and nowhere is this clearer than the Teen HPL website! Anyone can find out about teen programs, resources, facilities, and library-based events on the teen library website. This is also a valuable resource for help on crafting resumes, interviewing for a job, or learning to drive. Not only is this site fun, and engaging, but it is also full of really valuable information for getting involved with your community, promoting yourself, and using the valuable resource that is the Halifax Public Library!

Book Talking Hooks: This is a really informative and fun website! There is a lot of information available on just about anything a teen could want to know about in connection with the HPL, but the site does not have an over-crowded or chaotic feel to it. Rather, there is a sense of logical order that enables a user to find most things with relative ease. The most important search functions are in slightly larger and colored lettering to make it stand out more. A quick glance over the page will usually lead a user to what they want to find. For example, there is a large menu bar on the left-hand side of the screen with choices such as Programs, Contests and Teen Topics (amongst others). This makes the webpage very user-friendly.

The HPL Teen site has also made great use of color. The background is bright and friendly and colored lettering also aids in distinguishing one section of text from another. In this way, the site designers have used colors to aid in effective organization. The most important sources and links are bright and stand out which helps site navigation.

The HPL Teen site is a really good example of how libraries have evolved to serve the needs, wants, and interests of children and young adults. There are options to view Programs, Contests, or to Volunteer with the Library. Teens can clearly see that some services at the library are made with them in mind and this will encourage them to return to the website or to go to a physical branch to see what the place is all about.

Evaluative Comments: 4/5. The HPL has included really useful functions like the Ask a Librarian and Live Homework Chat. This is a really convenient way of enabling teens to get in touch with library help and services, which shows that the library is reaching out to their audience in convenient and relevant ways. The creation of new access points to resources is what keeps a facility like a library relevant. Further more, this is really useful preparation for post-secondary education where the equivalent of such functions are often available through college and university library websites for their students.

The site has also made really good use of internal links or menu choices to important information such as branch hours or super easy options of selecting from the How Do I drop-down menu to learn about the more common questions and answers. Internally, the HPL has also made really good use of TAGS. Popular key terms and expressions are included at the base of the teen home page. This means that a teen could probably find a resource they are interested in without too much difficulty. Clearly, the site is navigable through multiple access points.

Another strength of the site is the employment of social media. There are clear links to external sites like Facebook and an RRS feed. In this way, the HPL Teen site stays connected to the community and to its target viewers. Perhaps one way for the site to improve, however, would be to set up a Twitter account that viewers could follow, thus increasing the potential for social media and the HPL.

The HPL has also demonstrated an awareness of the space and resources outside the library itself through the inclusion of links to external resources. The Teen Topics page has links to health and wellness, emergency services, and job and volunteer opportunities. This gives the facility a sense of contextual place and encourages teens to embed the library as part of his or her own environment. Although a website is not a physical space in the classical sense of the word, the HPL has created a really welcoming virtual space that is heavily teen oriented. Ownership of that space will help to encourage the target audience to make use of it.

It would be an improvement for the site, however, if the option to view the site in other languages were possible. While English is the primary language of Halifax, there is also a vibrant immigrant population and the library would be a really useful resource in other languages.

Readers’ Advisory Notes: I found the HPL Teen site really engaging, fun to look at, resourceful, community-aware, and encouraging to teens and their needs and wants with a strong orientation towards effective service.

Reason for Inclusion: I have a lot of personal experience with the HPL branches (as I live in Halifax), and I wanted to see if the resourceful website matched the services that are available to teens at the various branches. Certain branches were slightly more resourceful than others, but all the branches demonstrate an awareness of a teen physical presence as well as a virtual presence and this was really good to see. I found the website to be really useful in informing me about the services and the priority teens gets with the HPL.

Through general conversation with people associated with the HPL (and library patrons), I have also heard really great things about the services offered by the HPL for youth. It was really good to hear that resources (both physical and electronic) were living up to the expectations of many people I have spoken with in the past. For example, although it is not a direct recognition of teen resources, the HPL has won the John Cotton Dana Award, (presented by the ALA) twice for Summer Reading Programs. (Personal Communication, Kelli Woo Shue, Manager of Emerging Technologies with the HPL, 2013).

Suggested Audience: Any and all teens and children in the Halifax Regional Municipality would find this site super useful and resourceful to find entertainment and opportunities to become engaged with their local community. I would recommend this site for teens of all ages.

References

Halifax Public Library (2012). “Awards.” Retrieved from http://www.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca/about/news/awards.html

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