and a winner of a 2016 Web Seal of Excellence
Fast forward five years to an Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) workshop where fellow librarians were talking about a new, trendy product called “Springshare LibGuides”. As I listened to its many accolades, I knew that I had to learn more about how this software tool could enhance teaching information literacy at Malden Catholic. Also referred to as a Web-Content Management System, LibGuides enables librarians to seamlessly incorporate Web 2.0 Technology. By incorporating this technology along with other online elements and features, LibGuides allows you to creatively organize and present information in an eye-catching, easy-to-use format.
I learned LibGuides would make it possible for me to efficiently create and edit information incorporating text, hyperlinks, widgets, and other interactive elements resulting in what I hoped would be the ultimate research guides. No longer would I have to feverishly produce paper-based research guides that quickly became outdated. Since purchasing LibGuides, I have taken advantage of all the resources Springshare provides for assistance with understanding and using LibGuides.
As a school librarian, I find that LibGuides provides a good practical solution for helping with library instruction, including teaching the research process, using databases, emphasizing age appropriate information literacy skills, and providing subject-specific resources for individual class assignments. The flexibility and ease of use makes creating individual LibGuides an effective way to help students navigate through resources to make a lesson more meaningful.
It is easy to be creative when you are using LibGuides. For those interested in more challenges, you can further pursue customizing the look and feel desired by using HTML and the latest Widget Builder. This is by no means a requirement, but is an additional offering from Springshare enabling greater creativity to enhance information literacy learning. An additional benefit of Springshare is their free webinars, some of which are interactive providing many useful tips, suggestions, and explanations. At any given time, one can access the online Springshare Community to view what other users are talking about or to find answers to your questions.
Using a simple Google search, I discovered some scholars argue that LibGuides can detract from student inquiry. I think that LibGuides can actually stimulate student inquiry. If a student wants to explore beyond a LibGuide and has an understanding of how to do so, then I enthusiastically encourage their exploration and learning. When teaching the research process, the use of a well-thought-out LibGuide, along with proper instruction, can provide a learning experience that helps increase student knowledge of a subject as well as peak their interest and curiosity to enthusiastically investigate resources outside of the LibGuide.
I believe it’s in our nature as librarians to want to be as helpful as possible. When I am creating a LibGuide for an assignment, I establish learning objectives based on what the teacher is asking of the students. I also think about the design of the LibGuide from the student’s perspective and ask myself what information will be most useful to them. The most effective LibGuides, and those that are most likely to be used by students, incorporate information and elements that appeal to students with different learning styles. These LibGuides usually focus on a particular assignment or theme and are textually and graphically well-designed.
Students in a sophomore Theology class recently answered some assessment questions at my request after using a LibGuide. The LibGuide was created specifically for their assignment and focused on the topics of Church History and major Renaissance figures. One of the questions on the assessment included, “Did the LibGuide and the database resources help you to complete your written assignment and presentation?” As evidenced by some of the following comments, students enjoyed using and found the LibGuide effective for learning. Comments included: “Yes the LibGuide was useful and it was easy to use Britannica to find interesting sources,” “The LibGuide was helpful and made it easy to find articles and images in Image Quest”, “The LibGuide and Credo Reference helped me find sources that were very clear”, “I liked the LibGuide and I learned about the Credo Reference database to find good articles”, “Yes, the LibGuide was fun, it pointed me to Britannica and I couldn’t have done my essay without it”, “The LibGuide was interesting and Credo was easy, fast, reliable”, “Image Quest was an amazing help to find images and using the LibGuide was easy”, “The tabs on the LibGuide made it easy to use. I learned more about how to use Credo Reference to find articles”, “The LibGuide was cool and using Britannica was faster than using Google”.
If you aren’t yet using LibGuides, I encourage you to try this powerful, compelling tool. It allowed me to create and introduce the ultimate research guides into the curriculum and design a new, easy-to-use LibGuides-based library website.
For those already using LibGuides, I welcome the opportunity to share my thoughts and learn about how you are being creative at your school library.
Check out our website -- created with LibGuides. I can be contacted at email@example.com. Follow us! Instagram: @maldencatholiclibrary.