Libguides and UX

Hess, M. Ryan MHESS8 at DEPAUL.EDU
Fri May 9 13:09:37 EDT 2014

Great topic…really gets to the core issue with online librarianship…librarians are not formally trained (usually) in UX and yet nearly everything we do is online nowadays.

We’ve been fortunate at my institution because we had early buy in from the librarians that standards and best practices are important. Rarely have our audits met with resistance as I think we did/do a good job of pointing people to the research on LibGuides and overall usability studies.

That all said, we have run into a major problem where we took our initial content management success and let it get ahead of us, moving (currently over 50%) of our website into LibGuides since our current CMS is broken and its replacement has been slow in arriving. So, to others, if you have choices, I don’t recommend LibGuides as a web CMS, even though you can do it, since for the reasons stated below, there are no robust built-in controls for regulating the architecture, no version history and rollbacks and other key things a CMS should give you.

We have one particular place in our LibGuides that is used for a section of our website that is a case study in all of these issues, which we’re having to completely overhaul just a few months after publishing it. So things can degrade quickly.

Anyway, like I said, my colleagues have a good shared understanding of the value of solid UX and standards, so we do pretty well  despite the “wild west” potential of LibGuides. So it can be done...

M Ryan Hess
Web Services Coordinator
DePaul University
JTR 303-C, DePaul University, Lincoln Park Campus, 2350 N Kenmore Ave., Chicago IL 60614
office: 773-325-7829 | cell:  650-224-7279 |  fax: 773-325-2297  | mhess8 at<>

On May 8, 2014, at 7:41 PM, Coral Sheldon-Hess <coral at SHELDON-HESS.ORG<mailto:coral at SHELDON-HESS.ORG>> wrote:

Hi, Laura!

I don't know if this is going to be super helpful to you, but because I've kind of accepted the inevitability of LibGuide creation (I haven't let any of the non-Systems librarians into my main CMS, so I either accept being the bottleneck or I let them make guides), my focus has been on getting people to follow guidelines/rules--which we call "best practices" for palatability. There was a multi-year sales job in there, that I'm kind of glossing over, right now, but setting these rules BEFORE you start should be easier than having to go back and fix things afterward. I think. (I can point you at some usability studies, if you need to make a case.)

For now, all we've standardized are the guides for academic subjects/disciplines (which we call "Topic Guides" - don't get me started), not guides for courses or guides for "how to do citations," etc.; those sets of best practices are on hold until after we convert to LibGuides 2. Not everyone is following the guidelines we've created, yet, but enough people are that the peer pressure on the others is growing. Also, one of our Web Team members is gung-ho enough to go out and get permission and convert people's guides FOR them, if they don't want to do the work themselves. :)

Here's the template guide I created, based on the findings of the usability studies I read:

And here's the written Best Practices document (which is already out of date and in need of updates):

Note that this is all for LibGuides v1, and parts of it will have to change drastically for v2.

Coral Sheldon-Hess

On Mon, May 5, 2014 at 1:38 PM, Wiegand, Laura K. <Wiegandl at<mailto:Wiegandl at>> wrote:
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<tel:%28910%29%20962-3680>


To unsubscribe:

Web4Lib Web Site:



To unsubscribe:

Web4Lib Web Site:



To unsubscribe:

Web4Lib Web Site:

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Web4lib mailing list