The website of Houston Public Library is well organized just as all libraries (on-line or not) should be. The main page of Houstonlibrary. org features different selections as headings on the very top of the page. The sections are divided according to their function. The very first selection, catalog, is placed at the far left side of the site which would be easily seen by visitors to the site. The catalog selection is perhaps the most important and most used link in the home page of the library. It is easy to use too. The rest of the links on top of the page provides access to the other features of the site.
One of these features would be the focus of this paper, which is the kids and teens section. The kids’ sub-section of the Houston Library is also well-organized and easy to navigate. On the left hand side of the page, the users would find different links which are organized according to their function. The books and reading link shows an organized selection of books according to National and State Lists which are subdivided into categories according to awards, New Books and Favorite Books which are categorized according to educational levels, and Special Subjects.
Any other feature that would be helpful is easily accessible at the left side of the page, arranged, in sort of side bar. They are arranged in alternating colors of red, yellow, and orange to separate each of the sections. The search button provides a link to the search option where, like the catalog in the main page, users can search by keywords, title, authors, and subjects. Searching is easy-based on the input the library is asking. Also, Kid’s are unlikely to use this feature where they have to type keywords, titles, or names using the keyboard.
The search link provides an option where users can browse through the library by looking through categories that have images—a function known as Picture it!. If the user decides to use the conventional way of searching, they have to narrow down topics if they are to use the keywords, subject, or even title search because the results page would result into thousands if general terms are entered. For example, entering the word “Science” in the title would result into 761 entries. Thus, users would have to be a little more specific, like entering a specific field in science.
The Teen section is also organized in almost the same way but it has few selections. The first row of selections features the links that lead to the other sites affiliated with the library, while the column beside it, placed directly to the right of it, shows a selection of upcoming books that teens may be interested in, plus a selection of books from specific publishers. The most important information that the site provides is the status of the book. The status of the book shows whether the available books are on the shelf or shipped.
If borrowed, the status shows the date when the book is due to return to the library. It is a valuable piece of information because it saves time and energy. Users do not have to bother going to the library to check whether the book they are searching is available or not. They can just simply check on-line. Teenagers would not have trouble navigating the site. Teenagers and even children today are introduced to the web at a young age, so navigating would be a breeze for teens. However, the kid’s section is more complicated.
Thus, they need their parent’s help in order to enjoy the site because despite the site’s simple interface, children are just too young to comprehend everything the site offers. The tumble books, fun and games, and Picture-it! functions of the search feature are the only ones that may be easily navigated by children without the help of their parents. Own Opinion about Library and Kids’ and Teens’ Section The library site is as easy and straightforward as it can be; it does not have a lot of buttons and advertisements that can distract users.
Every page of the site has a search toolbar, which is good because it allows users to search anytime they want. Another interesting and helpful feature of the library site is the text size adjustment feature. Users can use three different font sizes: small, medium, and large. This is helpful especially for those who have bad eyesight and for children who are just starting to read because larger fonts are easier to read. What is surprising about the kids’ and teens’ sections is that the former has a lot more options; it has more links, more things to do, etc.
Although it is easy to use, I expected that the teens’ section would be more complex, or at least feature a lot more than it does. Despite this surprise, overall, the site is user-friendly. There is no question that the site is easy to navigate. Everyone who has used the Internet before would find the site easy to navigate, but it does not mean that there is no more room for improvements. The site’s main section selection (the one located at the very top of every page) is quite bare.
The buttons are just placed inside a white rectangle bearing the name of the section. Users would have to put the pointer directly over the word to go to that section. Children who are only starting to use the mouse would have to be precise with it. A better option would be to add thumbnails or pictures to the sections. For instance, the kids’ and teens’ section would have a picture of a child and a teenager or the branches section would have a picture of the library’s facade.
Not only will the picture links make it easier for children to select the sections, but it would also make users, even children who are only starting to read, have an idea about what the section is about. Children rely heavily on visuals; thus, “picturizing” the whole kids’ section would make it child-friendly. The site features reading activities for children, which suggest that it is also catered to children who are still learning to read. Pictures would further help in easy navigation. Work Cited Houston Public Library Web Site. Houstonlibrary. org. 2009. 29 Apr. 2009. <http://www. houstonlibrary. org/>.
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