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CODE4LIB  August 2013

CODE4LIB August 2013

Subject:

Re: LibGuides: I don't get it

From:

Lauren Magnuson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 11 Aug 2013 18:13:29 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (267 lines)

I've worked at a small, under-resourced institution that had LibGuides,
despite the fact that as a staff member I did have the technical know-how
to install and maintain an open-source solution.  So why didn't we?  My
existing job duties without an open-source guide project already demanded
120% of a full-time position.  With no time to investigate and test an
open-source solution, the value we got back for our LibGuides cost was my
time as a staff member to do other things.  We weren't going to be able to
pay for additional staff support with $1000 / yr.

Some small libraries at institutions also have very little say at the IT
negotiation table - for examples, policies may exist that state that any
campus department wishing to host software either ask to use the existing
campus host  or ask for (read: beg) permission to go with one's own host if
there's a desire to use a code library that isn't supported by the campus
host (and there are a lot of institutions with leadership that is VERY
suspicious of open source, and therefore only use proprietary frameworks
like ASP.NET).  Either way, you're begging for permission to have access to
something.  I've been in this situation where the reaction to a request to
pursue open-source is disbelief - how can those luddites in the library
 possibly have the skill/experience/interest in getting themselves into
something like this?  It can be very hard to justify when an administrator
is also expecting the one person who would know how to manage the
open-source project to leave at any time, and IT certainly doesn't want to
provide staff time to support some weirdo project librarians came up with.
 There are university libraries that are moving toward using LibGuides as
their entire library web presence.  In many cases this is because just to
change a link on their university-provided library website they have to go
through 6 layers of approval and wait two weeks.

It's not an ideal situation, and may not be helping the big picture, but
there are lots of libraries that are just trying to survive.  Thus,
LibGuides.  FWIW, we got a lot of usage out of it, and cost per use was
incredibly low (and much lower than cpu for our other
subscriptions/databases).

Lauren Magnuson


On Sun, Aug 11, 2013 at 5:20 PM, Andrew Darby <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I don't get this argument at all.  Why is it "counter productive to try to
> look at open source alternatives" if the vendor's option is relatively
> cheap?  Why wouldn't you investigate all options?  Maybe the vendor option
> makes sense, maybe the open source option does.
>
> The "technology skills" for open source software are on the
> install/maintenance side.  It's not like the content creator has to do some
> crazy programming if they want to create a guide in the open source option,
> while in LibGuides a team of angels guides their every click and drag.
>
> And if technology skills are missing, how does writing a check to
> Springshare remedy the situation?  How does sending that check to
> Springshare benefit the "small poorly resourced" libraries?
>
> I assume I'm preaching to choir when I say that we should all be open to
> supporting our peers' open source efforts, rather than dismissing them out
> of hand.
>
> Andrew
>
>
>
>
> On Sun, Aug 11, 2013 at 5:49 PM, Wilhelmina Randtke <[log in to unmask]
> >wrote:
>
> > Technology tools are a non issue here.  Straightforward documented open
> > source technology is readily available.  What is missing is technology
> > skills.  Someone can't buy those if they don't already have technology
> > skills, or else they are a sitting duck for scammers.
> >
> > With a basic pricing of about $1000 a year, it's counter productive to
> try
> > look at open source alternatives.  $1000 a year with more handholding is
> > good.  Even companies, like lishost, which do open source for libraries
> > price in this same range, because they have to take on more handholding.
>  I
> > also don't see vendor lock in issues in LibGuides, since the research
> > guides concept includes routine change and replacing content.
> >
> > If you want libraries to operate better, what you should be doing is
> having
> > conversations with people from a variety of libraries, including small
> > poorly resourced ones, recognizing that there is a spectrum of needs, and
> > being available to provide realistic advice.  (That advice would be
> > different for different libraries.)
> >
> > Lack of access to technology skill creates the situations in which
> > LibGuides is useful and beneficial.  Lack of access to technology
> > skill causes most situations in which LibGuides are a counter productive
> > waste of time, whether that's a misguided administrator or poor
> > interdepartmental communication (yes, even competent IT housed in a
> library
> > is sometimes not proactive and helpful at being in touch with IT-hostile
> > reference departments).  If you have technology skill, then by having
> broad
> > connections and being available to give advice or pointers, you can
> assist
> > libraries / departments that don't have the luxury of having access to
> > technology skill.  If all you do is drum on open source diy, when there
> is
> > a low cost alternative that works, then you harm things.
> >
> > -Wilhelmina Randtke
> >
> > On Sun, Aug 11, 2013 at 2:04 PM, Andrew Darby <[log in to unmask]>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > There are open source solutions created by librarians:  SubjectsPlus
> and
> > > Library a la Carte.
> > >
> > >
> > > On Sun, Aug 11, 2013 at 2:38 PM, Cornel Darden Jr. <
> > > [log in to unmask]
> > > > wrote:
> > >
> > > > Hello?
> > > >
> > > > Soringshre's link-rot tool has gotten much better. Even at alerting
> > > admins
> > > > about broken links. I think $999 a year for the basic package is
> worth
> > it
> > > > since most librarians aren't coders like we 'ALL' should be! Maybe an
> > > open
> > > > source solution created by librarians is needed. However database
> > > > management will still require librarians to pick up those skills like
> > SQL
> > > > that we too often think isn't or shouldn't be a skill that a
> librarian
> > > must
> > > > have. It's the 21st century!!!!
> > > >
> > > > Thanks,
> > > >
> > > > Cornel Darden Jr.
> > > > MSLIS
> > > > Librarian
> > > > Kennedy-King College
> > > > City Colleges of Chicago
> > > > Work 773-602-5449
> > > > Cell 708-705-2945
> > > >
> > > > > On Aug 11, 2013, at 11:21 AM, Robert Sebek <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > > > >
> > > > >> On Sun, Aug 11, 2013 at 9:54 AM, Heather Rayl <[log in to unmask]>
> > > wrote:
> > > > >>
> > > > >> I have to say that I loathe LibGuides. My library makes extensive
> > use
> > > of
> > > > >> them, too. Need a web solution? The first thing out of someone's
> > mouth
> > > > is
> > > > >> "Let's put it in a LibGuide!"
> > > > >>
> > > > >> Shudder
> > > > >>
> > > > >> This fall, I'll be moving our main site over to Drupal, and I'm
> > hoping
> > > > that
> > > > >> eventually I can convince people to re-invent their LibGuides
> > there. I
> > > > can
> > > > >> use the "saving money" card, and the "content silos are bad" card
> > and
> > > > >> *maybe* I will be successful.
> > > > >>
> > > > >> Anyone fought this particular battle before?
> > > > >>
> > > > >> ~heather
> > > > >>
> > > > >> I'm fighting that battle right now. We have an excellent CMS into
> > > which
> > > > I
> > > > > have set up all our database URLs, descriptions, etc.Anytime we
> need
> > to
> > > > > refer to a database on a page, we use one of those entries. That
> > > database
> > > > > just changed platforms? No problem. I change the URL in one place
> and
> > > > > everything automatically updates (hooray CMSs!).
> > > > >
> > > > > All of our subject guides (http://www.lib.vt.edu/subject-guides/)
> > are
> > > in
> > > > > the CMS using the exact same database entries. I converted from our
> > > > > failing, home-grown system into the CMS and then gave training on
> how
> > > to
> > > > > maintain from there (remove an entry, add an entry, create a
> parallel
> > > > > course guide)--using the same skills as maintaining any other web
> > page
> > > > that
> > > > > librarian is responsible for. But apparently that's too hard.
> > > > >
> > > > > So we have a trial of LibGuides. NO ONE here has created a guide
> from
> > > > > scratch yet,  but they all say this is going to be easy. No one
> will
> > > > admit
> > > > > that someone will have to recreate all those database entries
> > > (literally
> > > > > hundreds) and then maintain those entries. When presented with
> this,
> > > > > several librarians said--oh that won't be necessary, we'll just
> > create
> > > > > individual entries as needed on individual guides. WHAT?!
> > > > >
> > > > > If implemented, we'll have hundreds and hundreds of entries, any of
> > > which
> > > > > could be out of date and nonfunctional, with no easy way to find
> and
> > > fix,
> > > > > other than waiting for patrons to complain that the link doesn't
> > work.
> > > > Ugh.
> > > > > All for several thousand dollar a year (as opposed for free in the
> > > CMS).
> > > > >
> > > > > And yes, those librarians' favorite example libguides have a dozen
> > tabs
> > > > > with hundreds of links on each tab. Overwhelm the patron with
> > > links--who
> > > > > cares! Just let me recreate the Yahoo Directory I so miss with
> every
> > > > > possible resource I can find online. Half those links don't work
> next
> > > > > semester? Doesn't matter, as no one will ever maintain that page
> > again
> > > > (and
> > > > > no patron will use it, since they will just Google these resources
> > > > anyway).
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > --
> > > > > Robert Sebek
> > > > > Webmaster, Virginia Tech Libraries
> > > > > (http://www.lib.vt.edu/)
> > > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > --
> > > Andrew Darby
> > > Head, Web & Emerging Technologies
> > > University of Miami Libraries
> > >
> >
>
>
>
> --
> Andrew Darby
> Head, Web & Emerging Technologies
> University of Miami Libraries
>



-- 
PALNI Systems Coordinator
530-949-5108

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