Online Library Communities: An Analysis of Ten Canadian Public Library Websites and Social Media

  • Author / Creator
    Pitcher, Alison J
  • This thesis addresses the question of whether or not Canadian public libraries are creating online communities through their websites and social media pages. Studies into what sense of community entails, both physically and digitally have been conducted outside of the library and information studies [LIS] field, but never within it. And in today’s world where more and more people access the internet and social media, libraries cannot afford to be serving their members in a physical setting alone, especially if e-visits are starting to outweigh in-person ones. There is a gap in current LIS research surrounding online communities and this lack of research and awareness could be hurting the impact that libraries might have. Focussing on the ten Canadian public libraries that serve the largest populations, this study analyzes a set of screen-captures of major library websites and social media. Each library’s website was analyzed by utilizing three personas in order to create pathways through each and determine if sense of community was being created through the four aspects of community: membership, influence, integration & fulfillment, and shared emotional connection. The analysis showed that shared emotional connection and influence were the two weakest aspects overall. Following that, each library’s accessible social media sites were captured and then analyzed for content as well as for obvious invitations to communicate. This analysis showed that there needs to be more of a focus on inviting communication, as well as an awareness that member interests are varied and posts need to cover a broad spectrum in order to attract member interactions. The results of all steps of analysis were used to create a simple set of best practices from which libraries can begin to better their online communities. This research is limited in scope and the results create a foundation upon which further research can occur and on which libraries can begin to better understand their online communities.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Library and Information Studies
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.