CityLibrary/ CityLIS Library Guides focus group workshops 2018

LibGuides is an easy to use content management system which is used by City, University of London Library Services and  libraries across the world to create small websites which are called ‘guides’.  LibGuides is owned by a company called Springshare and is part of a suite of products called LibApps, this includes LibCal (used to manage workshop, room and computer bookings) and LibWizard which is used to create quizzes, tutorials and other interactive content.

Within Library Services at City, we have a number of cross-team operational and project groups which enable us to work with colleagues from other teams and sites within the library.  We have found this approach to be successful, for example in the area of employability

One of these groups is our Library Guides group. An aim of this group is to lead on the future direction and development of Library guides. We were aware of the excellent potential of us collaborating with students from CityLIS,  our internationally renowned Library School.  User-centred design is useful to identify with users and include their ideas into service development (German, 2017).

We decided this year to offer workshops to CityLIS students to make them aware of our innovative use of Library Guides  and other Springshare products and our use of technologies but also to obtain their insights and feedback.  We felt that a knowledge of these tools would an advantage to students because they are so prevalent in many organisations.

We introduced a new Library guides home page in the summer of 2017 and the students gave us feedback on the design and clarity of this. We also looked at examples of some of our guides and those from other institutions.

Some aspects we discussed were:

  • It is key to consider the audience, purpose and objectives.
  • Front loading of important content in a prominent place on the guide.
  • The benefits of clear guide design and navigation.
  • Using bullet points or small paragraphs of text and having some white space on the page.
  • Incorporate accessibility features and consider ease of use eg. clicking/ scrolling.
  • Use of language and avoidance of jargon/terminology or acronyms providing a glossary.
  • Students highlighted the inter-disciplinary nature of LIS and the fact that is a postgraduate course.

Our Information Literacy Group has developed a new, introductory online guide (City, University of London Library Services, 2017) and a workshop series called Library Essentials and we also took the  opportunity to produce short videos on using the library (see slides on some of our use of technologies).

Our workshop presentation is below:

We have collated student feedback from our workshops and will be trying to incorporate it into some of our guide design and content and will also look for opportunities for collaboration and discussion and the sharing of expertise with CityLIS students. One thing we are looking to do is to develop learning objectives for our guides and to consider tailoring them to a specific audiences.

German, E. (2017). ‘LibGuides for instruction: a service design point of view from an academic library’, Reference and User Services Quarterly, 56(3), p. 162-167. Available at:  http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/rusq.56n3.162

Alex Asman (Subject Librarian, Arts)  and Diane Bell (Research Librarian)

City, University of London.

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