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See also Academic libraries 2.0 | Mentoring 2.0 | Scholarship 2.0 | Subject librarian 2.0 | Teaching library users
LibGuides, which was introduced in 2007, is a web-based product of SpringShare. It was developed by the University of Minnesota Libraries, and the basic software can be downloaded for free. While LibData continues to be supported, the UofM Libraries have been migrating its product to Drupal, another open source content management systems (CMS). LibGuides follows the software-as-a-service model - which is where providers license an application to the customer for use as a service on demand. Subscription prices are based on FTEs at your institution, and allow for the creation of unlimited numbers of pathfinders and guides. Currently, there is no limit to the number of subject librarians who can use the system. Additional training modules, custom domain mapping, and other premium features are available for a fee.
In 2012, a number of academic libraries in North America design their own platforms for the creation of pathfinders and subject guides. Two open source tools which are used for this purpose are LibData and SubjectsPlus. Both of these OS tools are based on PHP and MySQL, and require special coding skills to be used successfully. Both tools can be used to meet the majority of needs of academic libraries. SubjectsPlus was developed at the Ithaca College Library and can be downloaded for free. A few examples of its look and feel are made by individual libraries using SubjectsPlus. Some good training materials are available via the SubjectsPlus wiki. Users share information about SubjectsPlus via the Google Group <http://groups.google.com/group/subjectsplus>.
Pros & cons
- easy to use interface; remotely managed, maintained and supported; write-once, remix
- maintain/update your guides; platform for bibliographic instruction
- useful for aggregating information where users can find it
- little or no coding required for most common functions; boxes are individually editable in a WYSIWYG editor or as a plain text box if you want to add custom HTML
- main part of LibGuides works like a wiki; it's easy to add content and make it look good
- LibGuides is about library 2.0 and a more "social" library experience
- LibGuides brings the benefits of 2.0 to your library in an easy to use format; 2.0 technologies are accessible for librarians of any skill level
- integrating web 2.0 tools with resources at Libguides, librarians can use new technology students prefer
- More and more students use mobile devices, and LibGuides can easily be adapted to mobile usage by following best practices on its help site; LibGuides automatically detects mobile usage and adjusts the pages to fit the specific device
- Distribute content & services
- LibGuides enables you to distribute library content and services outside of the library website
- Content published in LibGuides is available on Facebook; widgets enable you to embed links to your guides into blogs, courseware systems, etc. Twitter integration means you can promote your guides on Twitter; this leads to increased exposure and use of library resources
- Extensible platform, powerful API
- LibGuides comes with a set of API functions so you can mix and match content inside and outside of LibGuides
- Using the remote script content you can display any outside content and scripts in your guides
- With the multitude of API calls and methods you can display LibGuides content in your other library web applications
- LibGuides can be your all-in-one content platform, yet the content can be displayed on any other web app/web page on your website
- LibGuides is hosted so servers, infrastructure, data backups are elsewhere; a customized system is available and you can customize your domain (with optional custom domain mapping); system is fully customizable, you can adjust the stylesheets, and the look to match your branding needs
- Increased reference usage
- LibGuides helps to improve communication channels; by embedding web chat and instant message clients in guides, reference services can increase dramatically; users prefer having their research information displayed inside LibGuides, and like being able to ask questions right from the system. This is one of the ways LibGuides is putting the librarian back in the online library.
- license means you are part of a global community of LibGuides member institutions; there's a dedicated user community website, Springshare Lounge; members share information, tips, best practices, etc. You get benefits of community content sharing, thru our LibGuides System - content in our network can be shared across institutions (100,000+ guides at 1,500+ libraries). For example, a business librarian can see what other business librarians are creating in LibGuides and get idea for their own guides. They can use templates and content from existing business-related guides, and collaborate with other librarians on creating new content.
- LibGuides provides good customer support
- SpringShare products work well; when there is a question or if you need help with something - they can help; 1,000+ libraries on board and we share our customer list
- web 2.0 products have set new standards for library software; and setting new standards how library vendors work with clients
- there's a vibrant user community (and a dedicated community website, The Springshare Lounge) for clients to share ideas, tips, best practices, feature requests, etc.
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