Before considering the design of your own virtual school library, it is worth visiting others, noting which services and information would be useful for your students and the elements of design that might work best. Below is a list of virtual school libraries I would recommend visiting:
Chestnut Hill School, Cold Spring School, Parkcrest Elementary School, Grandview Elementary, John Newberry Elementary, Polson Elementary Library, Columbus School, and Latimer Road Elementary.
Middle and High Schools:
Pioneer Middle School, Esquimalt High School, Walter Johnson High School, New Trier High School, Prince of Wales Secondary School, and M.E. LaZerte High School.
The Singapore American School is an example of an international school’s virtual library.
Some Resources to Consult Before Building a Virtual School Library
Carol Collier Kuhlthau was providing direction for virtual libraries in 1996 with her book: The Virtual School Library: Gateways to the Information Superhighway. An excellent up-to-date resource is Your Library Goes Virtual by Audrey Church (2007). Church’s book provides a comprehensive description of the various components of a virtual library and provides many examples of sites that can be included.
The digital school library: A world-wide development and a fascinating challenge by David Loertscher (2003), is a journal article which identifies the virtual library as the digital hub of the school, a nurturing environment with customization for every student- consisting of the core collection, the curriculum collection and the elastic collection.
M. A. Anderson, in Your media program's web presence: A tool for advocacy and marketing, outlines the ways a school library Web site can be used as an advocacy tool. She suggests including school hours, contacts, your mission statement and your monthly report on your website. Anderson also recommends providing information on your website about your school’s reading program and the role of the Teacher-Librarian, including examples of collaboration as ways to advocate for your school library.
Clyde’s article, A strategic planning approach to web site management, outlines steps involved in creating and maintaining a web site, using a strategic planning approach. The stages of the process are outlined, including identification of goals, analysis of user needs, selection of content to be included, developing content, navigational aids and visual design of the site. Clyde examines HTML coding or use of page development software and mounting the completed pages on a web server. She also looks at publicity and promotion and site maintenance. Clyde also outlines criteria used by the IASL/Concord School Library Web Page of the Year Award. More information from Clyde is available in Quality web sites for education, which identifies several educational web sites, including AskEric, ACER and SLO. These sights would be useful for teacher-librarians in their planning with teachers and administrators and might provide valuable resources for professional development. There are numerous sites that include searchable databases, classified collections of curriculum resources and news and current information services in the field of education.
David Warlick in his article, Plan it. Design it. Build it. Put your web site to work, suggests examining the goal of a web site using a problem-solution approach. He emphasizes that one of the reasons to have a web site is to improve one’s ability to do their job. He describes strategies, tips and directions for improving school and classroom web sites, suggesting the web site designer take a close look at the audience. He suggests designing for scanning, clarity and impact and explores using both HTML and customized templates. Warlick provides more tips Building Web Sites That Work for Your Media Center. These include examining the audience and knowing what you want the website to do for you and for them. Warlick takes a close look at what to consider for content, format, design, media and layout. The content and layout tips are excellent.