Evanston Public Library is the third site that I chose to review. This website was a very curious mix of old and new. Its design was fairly cluttered and lacking in style and two of the main things I encountered upon opening the site were TWO listings of the EPL phone number. This seemed to shout: "Don't use our site! Call us instead!" which was strange to encounter. What made it even more baffling is that on the left hand side of the site there is a chat box where one can contact a staff person through online chat! If they are going to have online chat available while they are open, it does not make sense to me that they would also push for their patrons to call in instead of using the site.
The website also includes links to subjects like: Bestsellers and Awards, Fun Stuff, Places to Go, Web Guides, Parents/Teachers, Booklists, Kid's Events, and Calendars. Most of these links seemed self-explanatory but while they were at least similar in nature to those provided by CPL and OPPL's sites, they seemed less inviting and useful. The site does provide useful and persistent links to its catalog on each page although it also has a note of the phone number at the top of every page as well.
After thinking through the design elements of the website I have come to think that perhaps the phone number idea is a recent development of the Evanston Public Library's financial issues. Starting with the economic recession several years ago, EPL has been struggling to find funding for its staff and programs. Almost every fiscal year the administration is reduced to begging for money to keep its doors open. Perhaps by using the website to push back towards personal interaction they can be sure to remind people, even subliminally, that when they use the library, they are dealing with actual librarians and helpful people in general.
In the end I cannot be sure what has motivated EPL to have a website like they do. All I know is that as a consumer and library user I am not terribly drawn to spend large amounts of time on the site. It feels less friendly than I would want and the extremely text heavy page design does not make me want to spend energy reading through each and every description to find what I want. With this in mind as an adult, I can only guess that kids are even less drawn to using the site which seems like an even greater shame. Perhaps if the EPL's financial woes are ever ended they will have time and funds for renewing their site and making it a good resource for kids in their area.