Online Research Guides at Swem Library

[This is a guest post by W&M reference librarian Paul Showalter.]

Many of us have been around long enough to have seen and used “old school” library subject guides.  Initially they were simply sheets of paper with lists of titles, call numbers, and maybe some brief explanatory annotations.  With the coming of the Internet, libraries converted those printed guides to online guides, but they were still pretty much just text-heavy lists with hyperlinked titles and links to relevant Web-based resources.  As helpful and useful as ever, to be sure, but unlikely to ever be considered dynamicinteractive, or, dare I say it … fun. Enter LibGuides — or as we call them around here, “Research Guides,” by Springshare.

These days, thanks to products like LibGuides, subject guides not only include lists of links to books and articles in the library catalog and databases, but can also contain — among other things — embedded videos, podcasts, images, and RSS feeds.  And quite possibly the best part? That no coding know-how is required! Adding all that great content can usually be accomplished with just a couple mouse clicks.

A Supplement or Even an Alternative to Blackboard

And lest you think that only librarians get to have all the fun, you should know that, through the “Campus Guides” component of our account with Springshare, all W&M students, faculty, and staff can create guides.  The only difference between Library Guides that library staff make and Campus Guides is that the latter doesn’t show up on the library website as an “official” research guide.  Campus Guides could be a nice alternative or supplement to student research papers, PowerPoints, poster presentations, and the like.  Faculty might consider Campus Guides as an alternative or supplement to Blackboard.

And remember: Adding all sorts of interesting content to guides is quick and painless. And guides can be created and maintained collaboratively. That’s right, guides can have multiple editors.  Who doesn’t love collaboration?! Other nice features include: a range of privacy settings for guides (faculty could create guides that only their students could see and vice versa), the option to create “friendly” easy-to-remember URLs for guides, the ability to easily copy content from one guide to another, and embeddable widgets.

If You Would Like an Account

Getting an account to create a guide is simple.  If you want to test drive Campus Guides, send me an email and I’ll create an account for you.  After that, getting the hang of building guides is a breeze, especially with the expertise available to your friendly Swem staff and the solid tutorial videos that Springshare provides.  You’ll be making and sharing superb guides in no time flat!