My name is Alex Asman, I’m a Subject Librarian from City, University of London and I’m here today to talk to you about LibGuides.
This is a topic we all wrestle with in our daily practice, and I’m sure we haven’t found all the answers yet.
This presentation comes in that spirit. I want to share with you some things we do at City in terms of LibGuides design, and in particular how we are trying to link our guides to recent pedagogical practice.
In addition I hope we will have time for you to suggest approaches that have worked for you in your own institutions.
LibGuides was started in 2007 and is now used 5,700 libraries in 80 countries.
Part of its attraction is that it’s very easy to use for content management system which needs no advanced knowledge of HTML needed or coding to use quickly and efficiently
However if you do have advanced knowledge it is very customisable - APIs, customizable widgets, bootstrap templates, and advanced scripting.
At City we were very early adopters of LibGuides and have been using the software for around 10 years. We use it to create subject and support guides, and our own private staff intranet area which houses things like the Service Desk manual and rotas.
In 2015 a working group was established (with me as the chair) to manage the move to LibGuides V2 and oversee the LibGuides moving forwards. So along with my crack team of Librarians and information assistants we got to work. I feel we’ve had a number of successes over the last couple of years. We’ve Produced a new standard guide template Redesigned the LibGuides homepage Produced best practice guidelines for our LibGuides for our library staff.
All of these things go some way to helping our LibGuides have a consistent ‘one voice’ feel when they are in fact created by a large pool of Librarians and Information Assistants.
At the same time the LibGuides group was created we saw the establishment of the Information Literacy Working Group which was tasked with overseeing the direction and focus of our work in this area.
One of their aims was to increase the amount of online content they provided to students.
This may have been to scaffold workshops or provide guidance to distance learners and we found increasingly that the group was turning to LibGuides to create and host IL content.
What we’ve started to develop at City and these sit alongside our best practice guidelines is a checklist based on pedagogy and learning theory for Library staff creating IL guides which would be familiar and speak the same language to people who have spent more time developing face to face teaching.
What I’m going to give you today is an extract from this checklist which I think will help you maximise the impact of your LibGuides whether you’re using them to deliver IL content or as Subject Guides.
Planning in this way can help you achieve what Biggs calls ‘constructive alignment’.
Constructive alignment is about defining the learning outcomes and aligning them with teaching and assessment strategies (Biggs, 1999). It helps us select our course content and plan the learning activities, as well as thinking about how we might assess the student experience.
Defining very early on these key elements will help you not only structure your guide, but also help you decide what type of content and activities you select for the guide in order that students have the maximum engagement with the content.
Cognitive Load Theory was developed by Sweller in 1988. "Cognitive load" relates to the amount of information that working memory can hold at one time.
If cognitive overload takes place, learners will be more likely to not fully engage and fail to take away key elements from . In teaching we plan for effective cognitive loading by: Choosing intrinsic cognitive load carefully – when and how to introduce complicated ideas Cutting extraneous cognitive load - remove unproductive distractions – maybe by the type of room we choose or the IT we use Increasing germane cognitive load judiciously - adding variety to the activities we use - group work/reflection etc.
So what does this mean in practical terms when it comes to LibGuides?
Active learning as an approach seeks to involve the direct participation of the student in the session and research has shown that active learning can help students achieve a far deeper level of understanding.
In a face to face workshop we might introduce activities such as hands on practice searching for resources or a group discussion to evaluate a journal article.
In Libguide this can be harder and more time consuming to achieve. However, it is worth it,
Active learning as an approach seeks to involve the direct participation of the student in the session
Research has shown that active learning can help students achieve a far deeper level of understanding.
In a face to face workshop this might mean hands on practice searching for resources or group work evaluating a journal article.
Guide for Law students learning the referencing style OSCOLA.
Activities which appeal to students with different learning preferences.
You have handbook, written overview, tutorial and quiz which lets students test their understanding at their own pace.
Be inclusive and accessible – In face to face teaching we may address learning differences by: Making sure our teaching has a logical structure Using multiple modes of communication Varying methods of presentation Planning mini-breaks or changing activity types Ensuring your plan is flexible so you can offer options to learners
We’ve covered most of these things but in addition you should consider – next slide
Spend some time focusing on your Writing for the Web – Avoid jargon, complicated or technical language. Keep it conversational. Consider implementing a Library style guide.
Evaluate and adapt - the process of teaching and learning is essentially a cyclical one. We should be striving for continuous improvement.
Maximising the impact of your LibGuides: taking the pedagogical approach to guide design - Asman
Maximising the impact of your LibGuides:
Taking the pedagogical approach to guide
Alexandra Asman (Subject Librarian)
City, University of London
■Develop a ‘lesson plan’ or a guide outline with the following:
■Who is your target audience?
■What do you want them to learn?
■How is this reflected in your learning outcomes?
■What study or research needs will be met?
■How will you help your target audience meet the outcomes?
Biggs, J. (2014). Constructive alignment in university teaching. HERDSA Review of
Higher Education, 1, 5-22.
■ Integrate activities which encourage interaction with the
■ Consider activities which use real life examples.
■ Take advantage of free and open source tools outside of the
■Focus on the way you write.
■Consider how screen readers engage with
with content – think especially about the
headings you use.
■Don’t use colour to convey meaning.
■When using images always add alt-text.
■Remember to add a transcript or
captioning to any video you use
Tools & Tips
■Center for Plain Language – Five steps to Plain Language
■Boston College Libraries - LibGuides Standards and Best
■We’re continuing to improve our current guides using this
■We’re introducing a rigorous peer review and publishing
■Implementing automatic integration of LibGuides into Moodle
the VLE used at City.
■Encouraging more collaboration between our working
groups, IL, LibGuides and UX.
Thank-you for listening!
References & further reading
Baker, R.L. (2014) 'Designing LibGuides as Instructional Tools for Critical Thinking and Effective Online
Learning', Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning, 8 (3-4), pp.107-117. Available
Biggs, J., 2014. Constructive alignment in university teaching. HERDSA Review of higher education, 1(1),
Castro Gessner, G., Chandler, A. and Wilcox, W.S. (2015) 'Are you reaching your audience?: The
intersection between LibGuide authors and LibGuide users', Reference Services Review, 43 (3), pp.491-
508. Available from: http://0-www.emeraldinsight.com.wam.city.ac.uk/doi/full/10.1108/RSR-02-2015-0010
Hicks, A. (2015) 'LibGuides: Pedagogy to Oppress?’. Hybrid Pedagogy. Available from:
German, E. and Graves, S., 2016. Infusing Pedagogy into LibGuides. Integrating LibGuides into Library
Sweller, J., 1994. Cognitive load theory, learning difficulty, and instructional design. Learning and
instruction, 4(4), pp.295-312.