The Presence of Web 2.0 Applications Is Associated with the Overall Service Quality of Library Websites

Leslie Bussert


A Review of:
Chua, A. Y. K., & Goh, D. H. (2010). A study of Web 2.0 applications in library websites. Library & Information Science Research, 32(3), 203-211.

Objective – To determine the prevalence and use of web 2.0 applications in library websites and to determine whether or not their presence enhances the quality of the sites.

Design – Content analysis.

Setting – Public and academic libraries in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Subjects – A total of 120 academic and public library websites in English.

Methods – This study identified and selected library websites from academic and public libraries using a combination of directories, ratings reports, and ranking lists from three geographic regions. Over a four-month period in 2009, three coders conducted a three-step content analysis of the selected library websites. This analysis was conducted after having established inter-coder reliability using Cohen’s Kappa and analytic procedure familiarity, using a randomly selected pilot set of 30 library websites. The remaining 90 websites were evenly distributed among the three coders for analysis. They determined whether web 2.0 applications were present, examined how those applications were used, and gave an overall appraisal of website quality. Coders inspected library website links, conducted site searches, used search engines, and searched within major social networking sites to determine the presence of web 2.0 applications. A quality framework classification scheme was used during coding to identify how the web 2.0 applications were being used within library websites. This framework was established around four dimensions of library services: information acquisition (blogs and wikis), information dissemination (Rich Site Summary, or “RSS”), information organization (social tagging), and information sharing (social networking and instant messaging). A five-point Likert scale was also used in concert with a website quality evaluation framework to assess the quality of the library websites. This framework included three aspects of website quality: system quality, information quality, and service quality. A combination of statistical techniques such as Chi-square analysis, Cramer’s V, analysis of variance, Tukey’s statistic, and multiple regression were then used to analyze the findings.

Main Results – Web 2.0 applications have been adopted by libraries across North America, Europe, and Asia. The most popular web 2.0 applications were blogs (56.6%), RSS (50%), and instant messaging services (46.6%) while less prevalent were social networking services (20%), wikis (16.6%), and social tagging applications (16.6%). The extent of libraries’ adoption of web 2.0 applications also varied according to region. North American libraries used all web 2.0 applications most consistently and were more attuned to heavier users, particularly with regard to information sharing applications (e.g., instant messaging, social networking). European libraries lagged behind those in Asia in embracing information acquisition applications (e.g., blogs, wikis) but were comparable to other regions. Social networking services and instant messaging were strongly associated with region; RSS, blogs, and social tagging showed moderate to moderately strong associations; and only wikis did not demonstrate a statistically significant association with region.

This study also identified how web 2.0 applications were being used. Blogs were used to generate interest, engage users, and endear users to library personnel, while wikis culled resources from users thematically. RSS feeds communicated news, events or resource updates, and were also used in combination with library blogs. Social tagging invited users to save, organize, and share information, while some websites used librarian-generated tags for search and discovery or included them as tag clouds in library blogs. Instant messaging was used to assist users synchronously during scheduled timeslots; meanwhile, social networking sites offered alternate channels to communicate and build connections with users.

The authors found a relationship between website quality and the presence of web 2.0 applications based on the criteria presented in their quality evaluation framework. Applications facilitating information sharing (i.e., social networks and instant messaging) had a stronger influence on a website’s overall quality than those being used for information acquisition and dissemination (i.e., RSS, wikis, and blogs). Web 2.0 applications among academic and public libraries shared a similar level of presence on the library websites; therefore, the type of library is not associated with the quality of the library website. North American websites tended to be higher in quality than European or Asian library websites, and differences in quality between European and Asian sites were insignificant.

Conclusion – This study reveals that libraries in various geographic regions adopt web 2.0 applications differently. Web 2.0 applications in library websites enhance users’ experience with library resources and support their interests. Library websites are implementing web 2.0 applications in a myriad of ways, including using these applications in concert with one another to increase user engagement. The presence of web 2.0 applications strongly affects service quality but only weakly influences information quality.


web 2.0 applications; library websites;

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