LibGuides. Content management tool. Springshre, LLC., P.O. Box 861, New York, NY 10108; http://www.springshare.com/libguides/ Price: $899.00$2,999.00 for annual license. Over the past few years, librarians of all stripes have been talking about or exploring social networking and Web 2.0 tools in various ways There is no shortage of bleeding edge technology or people looking for the next killer app for organizing online information. For many librarians and information professionals trying to grasp and master some of the new tools is overwhelming. The thought of learning a new application or tool to manage an already unwieldy a mount of information can be depressing to some Fortunately, there is a user friendly tool and its name is LibGuides. General Description Developed by individuals at Springshare, LLC who worked at and with libraries and understand the library environment, LibGuides is a content management tool allowing librarians to organize and present library collections to users in a customizable fashion using Web 2.0 applications. As described on the LibGuides product home page, [LibGuides] combines the best features of blogs, wikis, and social networks into one package designed specifically for libraries. The majority of LibGuides are hos ted by the libraries themselves (e.g., www.libguide.institution.edu ) allowing t he library to customize the look and feel of the guide with the home institutions brand. T he guides can also be linked to over 30 social applications including Facebook, Delicious and Digg, to name a few. The dynamic quality of the collections created in LibGuides is what makes this tool an easy way to explore social applications in a secure manner while providing patrons
with access to the librarys resources. The hosting institution has its own secure portals and firewalls and any LibGuide s created unde r those conditions is protected. Major Features All LibGuides have the same structure a home page and as many subject pages as desired. The content boxes have the same look and feel as well. While the color scheme may vary from one institution to another users quickly become familiar with how LibGuides look and how to navigate within them. This consistency reduces the learning curve and helps the patron become a power user more quickly. The administration of LibGuides is quick as well. A LibGuides admini strator creates new user accounts for librarians, update s the guides if a library resource becomes available or is disabled, and creates multieditor account s for up to four librarians to edit a single guide. This function is useful if a guide is designed to serve a multidisciplinary group or department. Librarians can create a profile box that can appear on every guide the librarian designs. The profile contains standard contact information, instant messaging widgets, and even a photo or image. This profile box personalizes the LibGuide s and helps bridge the gap between patron and librarian. A link for user comments is available on every LibGuide s page for users to submit comments about the guides overall or a particular guide page or resource box on a page. This dynamic exchange between user and librarian is one of the hallmarks of LibGuides. Creating a Gui de To create a LibGuide s content page you are presen ted with a template containing a standard home tab that applies to all LibGuides. You can add as few or as many content boxes to this first page as you like. As you design the content box a pull down me nu displays a list of different
content types. Options include simple links and lists, podcast or RSS feeds, links to your library catalog, and interactive polls, etc Simply give the content box a title and select the type of content to be made available. One of the best things about LibGuides is that librarians do not need expertise with codes or programming Web 2.0 tools. LibGuides has done the work behind the scenes. Heres an example: say you want a content box that links to the journals in the cardiol ogy section of your librarys catalog. First create a rich text content box called Cardiology. Next, in the rich text editor screen, type Cardiology Journals, highlight the text with your cursor, select the hyperlink icon in the text editor toolbar, pa ste the URL from your library catalog location for the cardiology journals and save the link. You can choose to have the link open in the current or a new window. With a few simple mouse clicks you have created a one stop shopping locale for your patrons looking for cardiology journals at your library. Ad ditional Features LibGuides keeps Usage Statistics for each guide a librarian creates, which is an invaluable way to monitor guide traffic. This is real time data displaying how many hits for a particular guide, the individual pages for that guide and even the links that are embedded on those pages. A librarian can see at an instant if a resource on the guide is or isnt being utilized. There is a feature Post to LibGuides which is useful when the libr arian discovers a new resource while browsing the Web. A medical librarian might follow a link from a cardiology journal to a website that des cribes a new procedure or study and while at the website click Post to LibGuides option in the toolbar. A scree n will appear asking which LibGuide s page, and content box should receive the link.
Customization and Utilization LibGuides allows a librarian to create a resource of relevant resources targeted to as broad or narrow a patronbase as required. To really understand the power and versatility of this tool one should visit the LibGuide s Community site ( http://community.libguides.com/ ) and search by topic, guide author or institution. The diversity of utilization of this resource is impressive. History librarians have guides devoted to specific eras or geographic locations; health librarians have guides for medical specialities, conditions, or disciplines. The potential is limited only by the librarian s imagination Because LibGuides incorporates Web 2.0 applications into its structure, the content can be continually updated. For instance, in the Cardiology Journal example above, by linking directly to your librarys catalog new materials will be listed once they appear in the collection. Creating a content box to list RSS feeds and podcasts for topics will provide patrons with current news, discussions or lectures. Using the Post to LibGuid es option, the librarian can create a dynamic link on the fly to this resource for the cardiology guide, including what page and which content box the link should appear. The librarians at the Health Science Center Libraries at the University of Florida, where the author of this review is employed, have so far created eighteen LibGuides for the different areas of the health sciences including nursing, public health, consumer health, pharmacy, and dentistry. We also created a set of Orientation LibGuides t o assist new faculty and medical residents become familiar with the library s resources and materials Librarians who have been hesitant to experiment with Web 2.0 tools because they could not see any benefit for their patrons will be pleasantly surprised with this content management tool. LibGuides are easy to learn and create. They are a fresh way for librarians to wor k with students,
researchers, clinicians and faculty. Monitoring the Usage Sta tis tics utility lets librarians see immediately if a guide is being visited, down to which page of the guide or links on the page. Instant messaging widgets can be embedded in the guide for users to ask questions and librarians to respond in real time The team at Springshare have done their homework and given libraries a fun and exciting tool to play with. Disclosure: The author has no affiliation with Springshare, LLC, or any c onflicts of interest. Ellie Bushhousen, MLS, AHIP, email@example.com Health Science Center Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL