The potential of web components for libraries

Published date18 November 2019
Date18 November 2019
AuthorJudith Wusteman
Subject MatterLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library technology,Information behaviour & retrieval,Information user studies,Information & knowledge management,Information & communications technology,Internet
The potential of web components
for libraries
Judith Wusteman
School of Information and Communication Studies,
University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to highlight the potential of web components for libraries.
Design/methodology/approach The paper introduces a working example web component that
reimplements an OCLC WorldCat search widget.
Findings By exploring the case study, the paper explains the functioning of web components and the
potential advantages of web components for library web development.
Originality/value Increasingly, web components are being used within library web development, but
there is scope for much greater use of this technology to the advantage of those libraries involved.
Keywords Libraries, Library services
Paper type Case study
Library patrons are increasingly demanding improved user interfaces, mobile access and
dedicated apps for a range of library functions (Back and Bailey, 2010; Bomhold, 2015; Clark
and Pan, 2014; Matthews, 2016). But meeting these demands can be problematic due to the
lack of technical expertise in many libraries. This paper discusses these problems, touching
on one current response: the web widget. It goes on to propose an alternative solution: the
web component. The latter, an increasingly important suite of technologies, provides a
method of creating reusable HTML elements, similar to web widgets, but standardised and
thus easier to implement, share and reuse. To illustrate the advantages of web components,
an OCLC WorldCat search widget has been reimplemented as a web component. This web
component is described and compared to the current WorldCat widget. The paper goes on to
explore how web components are currently being deployed in libraries and how this use
could be extended in the future.
Web development and libraries
In recent years, and in parallel with the rest of the web, the use of web services within
library systems has become widespread. For example, they are used to incorporate
information from external sources within OPACs (Back and Bailey, 2010). Such information
includes additional bibliographic information, book reviews and tables of contents. In
addition, OPACs themselves are being configured as web services, thus making the
information they contain available to services external to the OPAC, for example via subject
guides (Back and Bailey, 2010).The creation of such mashups is seen as crucial for
increasing the visibility and reach of the digital resources libraries provide(Back and
Bailey, 2010).
More recently, mobile applications and mobile websites have been developed for libraries
(Potnis et al., 2016a). These mobile services are both increasingly popular and increasingly
expected by library patrons, particularly by the millennialgeneration (Bomhold, 2015). For
instance, students want to use theirmobile devices when interactingwith research databases,
the library catalogue, and reference and circulation services (Seeholzer and Salem, 2010).
Library Hi Tech
Vol. 37 No. 4, 2019
pp. 713-720
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/LHT-06-2019-0125
Received 14 June 2019
Revised 16 July 2019
Accepted 24 July 2019
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
With thanks to Peter Clarke of UCD Library for his helpful input.
for libraries

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