Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Library Guides and Course Management Systems

During the past several years we have used Springshare's LibGuides extensively, to support instruction and to bring attention to various collections, services, and events at the library. (We do not currently have LibGuides CMS, formerly CampusGuides.) Recently we've begun to worry that the guides compete with the college's online course management system. The library has no wish to manage online courses, but we are starting to encounter faculty who understand LibGuides differently from librarians.

For librarians, LibGuides are a straightforward yet personalized way to highlight relevant parts of the library's collections and services. In my own experience, I have had the most success when I build a LibGuide for a particular assignment -- an assignment that has specific objectives but also some flexibility in terms of requiring students to perform some independent research. At other libraries, I notice that LibGuides are successfully used to replace paper pathfinders or hand-outs; the web-based LibGuides are far more malleable than either of those. There are usage statistics to see if anyone hits the content, and the guides support interactive features such as chat and forms.

Meanwhile, at least where I work, faculty who teach in person are looking for stable online space to easily organize their course materials and make them available to their classes. 'Course materials' can include hand-outs, syllabi, supplementary readings, and information about assignments. So while it's great when the library creates a LibGuide for a particular assignment, a LibGuide doesn't cover an entire semester, and even from my librarian perspective it seems weird that only a portion of a course would be supported this way. I mean, it makes the library look good, but it puts the rest of the college in a somewhat awkward position.

Then there are those faculty who teach online and/or have adopted the college's course management system to host their course content. From within the course management system, the LibGuides can get a little lost lost, as they just appear as a link.

The library has a functional relationship with those who administer distance education. As I write all of this down, it seems like the next logical step is a conversation with them.

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