At Ithaca College, the web team has recently written some very loose
guidelines on the construction of subject guides. Generally, we stayed away
from saying much about content, so most of the rules apply to the presence
and placement of certain common structural elements. For example, there
should always be contact information for the librarian and this should
always be in the top right. There should be table of contents (unless the
guide is really short) and it should be located at the top of the main

There are also some rules that are intended to prevent responsivity
problems (e.g., wrap your embedded videos in a <div
to make sure they are usable on mobile devices).

In order to keep a reasonable content hierarchy, we ask that librarians use
only h3 or lower for internal headers.

We've specified what we call a "dashboard" widget that contains links to,
well, things that are often linked to from subject guides (e.g., ILL,
citation info). This element is required on all guides.

Regarding buy-in, we stressed that these rules were based on responses from
actual users in usability tests. This is convincing to most (not all)
librarians. Our usability tests showed that consistency across guides is
important to users. We presented the rules as representing a balance
between pedagogical freedom for librarians and the need for consistency and
ease of navigation for users. (A paper on this is currently under review.)

Enforcement has not been a major issue. Content-creators have been *cough* we
use tasers *cough* very cooperative.

Ron Gilmour
Web Services Librarian
Ithaca College Library

On Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 9:27 AM, Joshua Welker <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> One of the recurring themes in the LibGuides thread was that libraries
> need better policies regarding content and style management in guides. I
> wholeheartedly agree here, but my attempts to do so in the past were shot
> down in favor of giving all librarians maximum freedom.
> I have two questions:
> 1) What kind of policies do you all have in place for subject guide style
> and content management?
> 2) How do you get librarians to buy in to the policies, and how are they
> enforced?
> Josh Welker
> Information Technology Librarian
> James C. Kirkpatrick Library
> University of Central Missouri
> Warrensburg, MO 64093
> JCKL 2260
> 660.543.8022
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
> Jimmy Ghaphery
> Sent: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 5:49 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] LibGuides: I don't get it
> I have followed this thread with great interest. In 2011 Erin White and I
> researched many of the issues the group has been hitting on, demonstrating
> the popularity of LibGuides in ARL libraries, the locus of control outside
> of systems' departments, and the state of content policies.[1]
> Our most challenging statement in the article to the library tech
> community (which was watered down a bit in the peer review process) was
> "The popularity of LibGuides, at its heart a specialized content
> management system, also calls into question the vitality and/or
> adaptability of local content management system implementations in
> libraries."
> One of the biggest challenges I see toward creating a non-commercial
> alternative is that the library code community is so dispersed in the
> various institutions that it makes it difficult to get away from the
> download tar.gz model. Are our institutions ready to collaborate across
> themselves such that there could be a shared SaaS model (of anything
> really) that libraries could subscribe/contribute to? The barriers here
> certainly aren't technological, but more along the lines of policy,
> governance, etc.
> As for Research Guides in general, I see a very clear divide in the
> public/tech communities not only on platform but more philosophical. From
> the tech side once it is all boiled down, heck why do you even need a
> third party system; catalog the databases with some type of local genres
> and push out an api/xml feeds to various disciplines. From the public side
> there is a long lineage of individually curated guides that goes to the
> core of value of professionally knowing one's community and serving it.
> [1]
> best,
> Jimmy
> On Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 11:13 AM, Galen Charlton <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> > On Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 6:53 AM, Wilhelmina Randtke <[log in to unmask]
> > >wrote:
> >
> > > There's not a lock-in issue with LibGuides, because it's used to
> > > host pathfinders.  Those are supposed to be periodically revisited.
> > > One of
> > the
> > > big problems is that librarians will start a guide and never finish,
> > > or make one then never maintain it.  Periodically deleting
> > > everything is a good thing for pathfinders and subject guides, and
> > > people should do it anyway.  No one's talking about tools for
> > > digital archives, which have
> > lock
> > > in issues and are way more expensive.
> > >
> >
> > Lock-in doesn't have to be absolute to be effective, it just has to
> > has raise the bar sufficiently high to make users think twice about
> > migrating away.
> >
> > This applies even if the data to be moved is transitory and constantly
> > changing.   For example, if a library has been diligently updating their
> > pathfinders, but wants to switch platforms, if there were no way to
> > export them to load into the successor system, the effort of redoing
> > them or doing a lot of copy-and-pasting could be prohibitive.
> >
> > As a general statement -- and I know that this battle has been
> > bitterly fought in the ILS space -- I believe that *all* library
> > software services, whether based on F/LOSS software or proprietary
> > software, should provide a way for the library to obtain a full dump
> > of their data, in an accessible format, at no additional charge.
> >
> > I see that LibGuides advertises the ability to make local backups of
> > individual pages and also provides (via a paid add-on module) an XML
> > export function.  I don't know if SpringShare will also provide free
> > one-time exports on request, but I would hope they do.
> >
> > Of course, even if one has the data in hand, data migrations can still
> > take a lot of time, effort, and expertise.
> >
> > Regards,
> >
> > Galen
> > --
> > Galen Charlton
> > Manager of Implementation
> > Equinox Software, Inc. / The Open Source Experts
> > email:  [log in to unmask]
> > direct: +1 770-709-5581
> > cell:   +1 404-984-4366
> > skype:  gmcharlt
> > web:
> > Supporting Koha and Evergreen: &
> >
> >
> --
> Jimmy Ghaphery
> Head, Digital Technologies
> VCU Libraries
> 804-827-3551