stacks of books and an ipad screen

Integrating public library services to improve user experiences

Guelph Public Library


"A passion for public service lies at the heart of a library." 
Judith Hare, Librarian at Halifax Public Libraries, RSC report


Did you know that Canadians visit libraries almost as much as they go to the movies? According to The Royal Society of Canada (RSC) Expert Panel Report: The Future Now, Canada's Libraries, Archives, and Public Memory, Canadians also  visit libraries twenty times more often than they attend Canadian NHL games each year, and every month, 204,000 Canadians get job-seeking help at their public library.

From library fine payments and program registration, to customer accounts and forms for suggesting new purchases, Guelph Public Library's new website streamlines the customer service experience while improving administrative efficiency on the back end for staff.


Guelph Public Library's previous website had been developed in-house with the help of an intern - a long process due to the limited technical resources available internally. With funding in place to redesign the website with a responsive web design and integrated services, the project team knew that they had a tight timeline and additional technical resources would be vital to the project's success.  

"As the number of technology devices increases, libraries will enable increased equality of access and participation and help people create and exchange new content," stated Wendy Newman in the Third Generation Public Libraries report, prepared for the Ministry of Culture in 2008. "One of the ways libraries will do this is by collaborating, within the library sector and beyond, to develop stronger networks."

Embracing the value of collaboration and searching for an opportunity to work with a vendor that understands the value of service-centric design, Guelph Public Library partnered with eSolutionsGroup Ltd. (eSolutions) to launch a new, fully responsive website with integrated eCommerce services. 

guelph library website mocked up in devices


With a number of existing third-party systems and applications, Guelph Public Library's staff collaborated directly with members of the eSolutions team in order to find a way to get these multiple systems, both internal and external, to communicate and work seamlessly with each other while maintaining a consistent look and feel.

Online services offered by Guelph Public Library include:

guelph library services mocked up in 2 different ipad templates

Integration and communication between multiple systems was particularly helpful for improving the user experience for online payments. With their Library Catalogue (including library cardholder account information) housed in a third-party system, and another system being used for online payments, visitors to the  Guelph Public Library's old website would have to move between systems to complete one task, such as paying a library fine. The new website makes the process much more efficient through the online fine payment process.  

"A consistent look and feel drives a positive user experience - visually and functionally," said Mayfield. "When new windows and third-party messages start popping up for a user to complete a task, it can be confusing and sometimes leads to distrust of the service being providing, discouraging the user from completing whatever task they've set out to do."

Another example of integrating Guelph Public Library's existing systems can be found on the homepage, where a "New Arrivals" listing is automatically pulled in from the library's Polaris catalogue system. When the catalogue is updated with new books available at the library, these new arrivals are automatically displayed in a section on the new homepage, which allows users to scroll through these titles instead of entering the catalogue system and searching for new arrivals there.

"We really wanted a website that was going to be different than other library websites out there," Kwan added. "We wanted it to be dynamic and look unique." 


© eSolutionsGroup 2018

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