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Considering Libguides: Overview

A Libguide created by Katie Day to support a session at the 2015 EARCOS "Tech-Integrated Libraries" conference in Taipei

Design Diversity -- and Customization

Springshare highlights these K-12 library libguides.


Scotch College in Perth, Australia -- and Brad Tyrell's guides definitely deserve being pointed out.  Their Libguides have a very polished look -- and they have obviously used the customized CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and HTML options.  Without them sharing exactly what they're done, it's difficult to mimic their look.

Example of Scotch College page:


I particularly like how they use numbers -- 1, 2, 3 -- to indicate levels of complexity of resources listed.  (Something anyone can mimic.)


Another example of an institution using customized CSS and HTML to achieve a different look -- what is known as the Bento Box Style --- is the National University of Singapore (NUS).  

Aaron Tay and Feng Yikang, the two librarians behind that customization, recently published an article in the Code4Lib journal (see here) explaining how they did it.  I saw them present at ALA (the American Library Association) last June in a session called "Library Guides in an Era of Discovery".  See .  The presentations stretched my mind (and thinking about our Libguides and discovery layers). 

Our library team isn't at this level of technical sophistication, but we may be able to mimic the Bento Box design a bit.  See here how Barb Reid created a Bento Box image and put links behind each.


Libguides and the OPAC -- at UWCSEA East

We are starting to catalog our Libguides in our OPAC (Destiny), so people searching our catalog for information on "Extended Essays" -- for example -- would find any Libguides we had on the subject, e.g., this one.


We also use Libguides as a place to document our cataloging procedures, e.g., see this Libguide on "Cataloging @UWCSEA East".  Note:  this is a constant work in progress, edited by Susanne Clower, our campus librarian.  Feel free to contact her for details and questions -- .


Perhaps the best use of Libguides is as a front end to our catalog, as a way of providing more customized access to our Resources Lists and to "canned searches" in Destiny, which in the OPAC are hard to find and only sorted alphabetically.

For example, see this page we have to let teachers know what books they have in their class libraries and other types of booklists.


Libguides Community

The biggest value of Libguides -- whether you're a subscriber or not -- is the COMMUNITY.  You can search for types of libraries and locations around the world and find their Libguides.  

Many of us at this conference already have Libguides:

Note:  You can also search for Libguides on a particular topic.  For instance, if I am creating a new guide on "polymers" for IB Chemistry, the first place I go is to the Libguides Community and search for any Libguide with the word "polymer".

Libguides are meant to be shared -- and even pieces of Libguides can be shared.  Within the Community, the norm is that you just have to write and ask for permission -- and give credit.  This re-usability of components is what makes Libguides so much better than creating one-off library guides, e.g., using Google Sites.

There are some users of Libguides that I look at on a regular basis, either because I know them or because they have a lot of good content and examples.

It's also worth looking at some of the university uses of Libguides, e.g., MIT.  Even the United Nations and the FBI use Libguides!  

Testdrive Libguides

Springshare has a test set-up -- -- for people wanting to see how Libguides are created and edited.

If you want an account, contact me ( or Susanne Clower (

Ways to display groups of books

Libguides has a special "asset" type to display a single book, based on its ISBN.


What it doesn't have is a widget that lets you easily display a group of books or booklist at once.  (Though you can always put in images of book covers or slideshows of book covers.....

Instead people tend to embed widgets from other tools, e.g., Goodreads.  But the Goodreads books don't link back to your own OPAC.

Our solution was to use the LibraryThing for Libraries book display widget, which can take a list of books in a variety of ways and display them in a choice of 4 formats (3D Carousel, Carousel, Scrolling, or Dynamic Grid).

See this blog post I wrote a while ago which explains how the LibraryThing For Libraries widget works -- and links books back to your OPAC.  NB:  The book display widget costs USD $300/yr from Bowker.

The shame is that Follett don't let other products into their system via an API (application program interface).  So we have to fiddle around to allow LibraryThing access to our books.

One way is to mirror books in a LibraryThing collection -- by exporting from Destiny and importing into LibraryThing.  That's what the blog post mentioned above describes.

Another way is to export ISBNs from Destiny and have LibraryThing read them.  

For example, we used to use Pinterest to log our new arrivals and then embed the boards in our Libguides.  But then Pinterest changed their default display options, so you can only see a full Pinterest board if you have a personal account and are logged in.  Which is a pain for anyone browsing your Libguide.

How could we generate reports of new arrivals each month and get those covers displayed on a Libguide with a minimum of effort?

Go to this page to see our "New Arrivals" -- which is taking a "List of ISBNs" off a "published" Google Spreadsheet, produced by running a report out of Destiny which includes ISBNs in the output.  We just copy the Destiny report into a Google Spreadsheet and then make that document public, so LibraryThing can read it.

Share examples of library page designs

Want to share examples of good (and not so good) design of Libguides and library homepages and guides?  Click here to ask to join this Google Plus community I set up.