Libguides and UX

McHale, Nina McHale_N at CDE.STATE.CO.US
Mon May 5 19:52:19 EDT 2014


I agree wholeheartedly with all of your reasons, and I survived (did I?) a fairly traumatic LibGuides experience as a web librarian an a similar sized academic library. A colleague and I were tasked to draw up best practices to ensure consistency and usefulness of guides and content, and I was told that I was impinging on my colleagues' academic freedom for doing so. Because of this, the best practices were never implemented, and two years later, everyone who created content for LibGuides was frustrated with it because everything my colleague and I knew would happen...had happened. Inconsistent navigation, completely different layouts, complaints that so-and-so was using pink for text, no one used the tabs in the same way, the chat widget should always be over here, and it's not, etc. etc. etc.

In short: there is NOTHING inherently magical about LibGuides that prevents them from the potential of a UX nightmare. In fact, unchecked, they can enable really poor web development and user experience. It's yet ANOTHER content silo for the content that needs a silo the least.

In your situation, I'd start by sitting down with the LibGuides advocates and chatting with them about what they want out of ANY guide creation mechanism, in a conversation that centers on the content rather than the platform. What are the objectives? Why create guides in the first place; what's their value for STUDENTS? Are they truly useful? And PROVE that last point with some usability studies before launching into any new project. Anything that you decide should dovetail into the overall goals of the library's web presence and the institutional strategic plan.

One final note: it kills me to say this because I love SpringShare! I got great support from them, and the price is crazy cheap. Those weren't things I was used to. ;)


Nina McHale | Digital Experience Consultant | Colorado State Library - Colorado Department of Education | 201 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80203 | tel 303.866.6906 |<>

From: Web technologies in libraries [mailto:WEB4LIB at LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Wiegand, Laura K.
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2014 3:38 PM
Subject: [WEB4LIB] Libguides and UX

Hi all,

I am interested in opinions on Libguides from UX, web and system librarians. We are a medium academic library that several years implemented Drupal as our CMS and created custom subject guides ( that re-used data from other parts of our site, could be integrated with other parts of our site, that I thought were more usable and looked neater (as in clean) than Libguides.  Fast forward 5 years later and we've hired some librarians who come from Libguide schools who really want them. I can't deny that the Drupal guides need a facelift both on the front end, but more importantly on the editing side, and doing so can be bumped to the top of my to-do list because we need to migrate to Drupal 7 anyway.

My question is, should I give in to the dominance of Libguides? My resistance is based on these principles:

*         Students don't notice the tabbed navigation and subpages

*         Students find the inconsistency of libguides confusing, i.e., some librarians put best bet databases in one box, some put them in a different place.

*         Students want efficiency, and so prefer simple (but not boring) layout

*         Students are pushed to yet another different looking library interface

*         Libguides is just another silo of data (i.e., another eResources A-Z, another list of librarians, not integrated with the main website)

*         Librarians can create new guides extremely easily, so there tends to be a crazy proliferation of one-off guides.

*         It's librarians, not students, that really love libguides.

*         We would be paying for a service that we can support in house via a CMS

I understand that Libguides are great for libraries that don't have their own CMS, or strong IT support.  I also understand that there are template adjustments that can be made and style guides that can be written.

Am I right, wrong? Are they really that awesome, or do they come with their own set of UX and data problems that would be better served by an in-house CMS?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts, Laura

Laura K. Wiegand
Coordinator of Discovery Services
William M. Randall Library<>
University of North Carolina Wilmington
601 South College Road
Wilmington, NC 28403-5616

wiegandl at
Phone: (910) 962-3680


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