We are a large library with a savvy staff and while we have an established Wordpress Network, LibGuides still plays an important role in our web presence - and if Springshare lives up to its latest promises I think it's one I'll begrudge less and less.

Honestly, the reason LibGuides is still around is because before we established a solid web team in the last year or so, LibGuides was our institution's primary CMS - specifically because my predecessors didn't want to dole out FTP privs [we still play those close to the chest]. And while, yes, I agree that a fundamental understanding of HTML and CSS should be a criterion for employment--just like we expect a fundamental understanding of MS Office--the reality is that we're not quite there yet. Since I'm not expected to be a copyright guru or a subject specialist--and I can comprehend the time to acquire that knowledge--I'm not sure I can similarly expect copyright gurus and subject specialists, reference folk, and instructional librarians to devote the time it really takes to get comfortable with a platform.

Transitioning a large staff from one established system to another requires a lot of TLC, and since I actually have to make shit as well as provide training, I am perfectly happy reconciling the existence of LibGuides in our presence - because here's the thing:

Users don't give a shit what platform the content lives on.

What's important to me is that first and foremost there is a content strategy, and the needs of the content will determine the platform. Here's some musing:

1.) No matter what I think, our staff find LibGuides much more intuitive to use - and when you really look at the WordPress admin panel you can't blame them. We are doing a lot to streamline the dashboard by removing, renaming, we even jacked up the default post-editor so that posting becomes a step-by-step process: once you write the content, then you draft the excerpt, then you assign the categories, etc. It is going to take time to find the right mix of customization and training - and this, for instance, may be a reason an out-of-the-box Drupal or WordPress install may prove more problematic than something like LG. No matter what you expect of staff, hands will need to be held. 

2.) LibGuides tend to be disorderly. We found a need to establish a sitewide--Wordpress, LibGuides, and anything else in the future--strictly controlled taxonomy for categories/subjects, as well as consistent URL naming conventions (/finding-articles instead of /findingarticles, etc.). You can also publish an LG without a description and all that, which sucked. While it took awhile to retroactively get all the content to adhere to these rules, the upshot was that between platforms there was some basic organizational consistency. It also helped with our SEO.

3.) We're still in the head-scratching phase of determining the criteria for what becomes part of the WPN and what becomes a LibGuide. Our biggest argument has been a semantic one: all of our staff refer people to "Library Guides," and really any content that doesn't feel like a guide or a tutorial is flagged to transition. We also think that the LG feeds are rubbish, so we figure any content where updates need to be broadcast may make for a WP candidate, or content that would benefit from the extensibility of Wordpress, a custom layout, or something like that.

Currently we also add that any content that will be syndicated sitewide--because we don't believe in duplicating content!--[such as policies, or whatever] will be on the WPN, because we use the JSON API and a few in-house plugins that make the replication of content [and keeping that content updated] painless. I mention this aspect in passing because LibGuides has promised a more robust API. If Springshare lives up to it, it may be equally as painless to syndicate from libguides. 

Um. What else.

Well, the look is a big deal: but the new libguides is going to be Bootstrapped, the content types are going to be pruned to just three, and I'm remaining optimistic about our ability to theme it. 

Michael Schofield

-----Original Message-----
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Joshua Welker
Sent: Monday, August 12, 2013 9:36 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] LibGuides: I don't get it

I just have to say I have been thinking the exact same thing about LibGuides for the two years I've been using it. I feel vindicated knowing others feel the same way.

At UCMO, we will be migrating to Drupal in the next several months, and I am hoping very much that I can convince people to use less LibGuides.

LibGuides is great in its ease of use, but fails on just about every design principle I can think of. There have been several studies on "tab blindness"
in LibGuides, and don't get me started on the sub-tab links that are hiding and require the user to mouse over a tab to even see what is there. I've tried telling people so many times to have just a few tabs and always to use a table of contents for the main page, but they rarely do. And it becomes just about impossible to have a consistent look and feel across your website when LibGuides allows guide creators to modify every element on the page as they see fit. People will do crazy things like putting page content in a sidebar element, something you'd never ever ever see on any website on the Internet. I tried to enforce uniform colors and column sizes across all the guides, but I was told to let it go because my coworkers wanted to be able to decide those things on a guide-by-guide basis.

I've worked at two institutions that use LibGuides, and what inevitably happens is that librarians create one Uber Guide for entire subject areas (biology, religion, etc) and then create sub-pages for all the dozens of specific disciplines within those subject areas. And then, assuming the user somehow manages to find these pages, they are typically not much more than a list of links that could have easily been included on the main library website.

Okay, sorry for the rant. It has been building up for several years and never had a chance to voice out.

Josh Welker
Information Technology Librarian
James C. Kirkpatrick Library
University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
JCKL 2260

-----Original Message-----
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Robert Sebek
Sent: Sunday, August 11, 2013 11:21 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] LibGuides: I don't get it

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 ( 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