Council libraries should do more to encourage e-readers, report says

A report from Better Connected, the annual survey of local authority website performance, has called on council library services to do more to make it easier for people to sign up and use their e-books, e-magazines and e-audio services.
 
Socitim, creater of the Better Connected service said that the provision of e- resources opens council library facilities to new audiences, including those unable, or disinclined, to visit the library in person.

The survey found that eight per cent of visits to council websites involved using library services online.
 
The survey of county council websites explored the user experience of finding out how to sign up for e-books and resources and asked a series of questions, including: Am I told what kind of devices and e-readers I can use to access library e-books?; Can I join the library completely online, without visiting anywhere or posting documents?; Am I told whether I need to wait for a library card or PIN or something else before I can access ebooks/emagazines?; and is the process for borrowing e-books clear including whether/how I need to 'return' ebooks?
 
The survey report highlighted that those responsible for managing library website pages need to account for the fact that processes for borrowing e-books, magazines and audio resources are different and more complicated than traditional book borrowing and that readers will often need to download software or apps to do so. They will usually need to sign up for accounts with third party providers in addition to having a library account with the council. Sometimes they will need to be signed in with both accounts at the same time in order to access resources.
 
In this context, the report warned that poor wording and the wrong hierarchy of information can make a huge difference to the user’s ability to complete the task. Lack of attention to detail will lead users to give up or phone for further information.  
 
Results of the library survey for the 27 county councils tested are now available. Individual councils can find their results from the council index page at https://betterconnected.socitm.net/councils.

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