Top 10 Academic Library Websites 2013

Here are my favorite library websites for 2013.  I expected this year’s sites to be:

  • Googleable  – I wanted to be able to access library resources and services from anywhere.
  • Searchable - I wanted to be able to search for anything in a single search box.  I did not want to have to navigate lots of menus to find “how to renew a book” or “library hours” or “ENG 101” or “dostoyevsky.” 
  • Helpful  – I wanted research help where and when I needed it:  I didn’t want to have to slog through lists of “tutorials” or “FAQs.” In addition, I wanted troubleshooting help for technical and access problems. 

Here are the 2013 winners:

1)  Stanford University 

  • Stanford has successfully achieved what has been dubbed “full library discovery:”  users can search for services as well as resources from a single search box.  Note the search suggestion “renew books:”
Stanford University library search box

Detail Stanford University library search box

  •  Stanford has also opened their library catalog to search engine harvesters – making their resources truly “Googleable.”   Example –  a web search for “luryier diamond opera collection” returns the catalog result on the first page: 
Stanford web search

Web search result

2)  University of Notre Dame

  • I like this site’s prominent and understandable help resources: “How to find” and “starting your research.”
  • Notre Dame also has an excellent information literacy tutorial. For more good examples of library tutorials, see this post.

    Notre Dame library detail

    Notre Dame library website detail

 3)  Ithaca College

Ithaca College library detail

Ithaca College library website detail

4)  Florida State University 

  •  Another site with great help features, including finding articles.
  • Some features I especially like: access points for different student populations, a good “I need to find” left menu, and their computer availability widget.
Florida State University website

FSU library website detail

5)  Syracuse University

6)  Virginia Commonwealth University

  • VCU is launching a new website in January – and unfortunately, I like the old one better – especially the “start my research” and “articles” links.  
  • I do like the excellent Journal Linker on the new site – an understandable, usable tool for finding articles and books from citations.  

7)  Williams College

  • There is nothing fancy about this small library website – but it works.  I especially like their very comprehensive “how to find” pages: 
Williams college website

Williams College website detail

8)  Stonehill College

  • Another good small library site.  I like their clean, uncluttered design, and their prominent help – including off-campus access and technical help pages. 

9)  University of Michigan

  • An excellent “browse by subject” feature – searches not just research guides, but databases and journal titles as well.  
University of Michigan website detail

University of Michigan website detail

10)  MIT

  • Vertical, rather than horizontal search box tabs are easier to see. 
  • Limiter for e-resources directly on the main search box. 
  • Multiple links to help – including “expert help.” 
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8 thoughts on “Top 10 Academic Library Websites 2013

    1. Hi Kira,

      Thanks for the great question. Accessibility would be a really interesting area to explore – I’ll add it to my list for next year’s test. Another test I’d like to include is device compatibility. Best, Emily

    1. Hi Xuan,

      If you enter your email into the “Email subscription” box and click subscribe, you should receive an email every time a new post is published. Please let me know if this doesn’t work! I’m so glad you enjoy the blog. Best, Emily Singley

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