Sunday, March 14, 2010

LibGuides: Collaborative Aspects

So many of us now use LibGuides and love the ease, consistency, and clarity of them. But are we really using them to their potential as collaborative information sources? Most of the ones I have seen are being used as information dissemination portals, using the LibGuide as a platform for links to databases, books, and even videos. So much better than our paper or web pathfinders of earlier decades, but they are still a one-sided educational tool.

Are we really using LibGuides to their greatest "2.0" capabilities? Easy to use boxes can be added that allow for not only user ratings of links, but interactive polls, feedback boxes, and, most interesting and least used (as far as I can tell) user link submissions.

Some libraries use these boxes, but how can we get kids to participate?

Our 7th graders research the people and cultures of Middle Eastern countries in order to write a first person creative piece. Over the past few years we have built a Google Custom Search Engine for this project (I wrote about it before), and put it on the LibGuide.

I ask the students to participate in this endeavor by submitting links to the LibGuide for their friends to use. This has been relatively successful, and by that I mean maybe eight kids have submitted links this year so far. I might ask the teachers to make submitting links mandatory next year, to help us build a good database in the Google Custom Search Engine, but also to show the kids that we want to collaborate, that they often find great sites to use for research, and that their research is worth sharing.

When the students submit links, they are asked for their name and email as well as the title of the link and the url. I tell kids to only put their first name (privacy), and that the email address doesn't get posted. Then I receive an email telling me I can preview the link before I either reject or post it. This is helpful, so kids take it seriously and really only post worthy sites. It also lets me look at the sites they are finding so I can potentially help them if I see they are somewhere they might not really want to be. After I post the link, at a later date, I add the link to our custom search engine, to be used by others in later years. 

On other LibGuides, we ask the kids how they like the LibGuide, or which database is most useful via polls, but the voting is minimal.


I poked around a bit in LibGuides and I found that Juliet Kerico, librarian at Southern Illinois University's LoveJoy Library, has had some success with this type of collaboration with students.

Have you had any interesting collaboration experiences with students using these features? If so, how did you entice students to vote and participate?


  1. Hi Elisabeth,

    Slaven Zivkovic, from Springshare (LibGuides), here. Thanks for the kudos about our system. I wanted to let you know that we are a few weeks away from announcing a major new feature in LibGuides which will help with your collaboration efforts.

    Namely, we will announce a new, special account level in LibGuides - appropriately named "Collaborator". It will allow any guide owner to invite anybody (students, faculty, librarians at other institutions, etc.) to collaborate on creating guides - you will just enter the email address of the persons you want to collaborate with on your guide and they will receive a special password, valid for this guide only, which will enable them to edit the contents of the guide.

    We're pretty excited about this new feature, I hope you will be too. It should be released in the next few weeks.

    -Slaven Zivkovic

  2. That sounds great! Our lower school librarian gave the science teacher administrator rights so he could make guides for his course. Your new Collaborator account sounds like that would be even easier. Thanks for letting us know!

  3. This sounds really amazing! It's not something we're doing, but thanks for the great idea, Elisabeth!

  4. I have had most success with grade 5 & 6 students, who, it seems, will comment on just about anything... I make a point of mentioning that comments can be left (and I do read them!) each time I have a class in, and a few grade 8s will comment now and then. I do like the sound of the collaborator that Slaven is talking about above...

  5. Hi Claire - I just found out our lower school librarian also has a couple of kids who always participate in the LibGuide polls and comments.I love it! Maybe the teenagers are harder to reel in?

  6. Well, "participate" might be stretching it a little. But some of the 4th graders left comments on this guide: I'm glad that they are using them, and feel comfortable enough to post, no matter how silly!

  7. We had our entire 9th grade (6 classes) create renewable energy Libguides. Within each class teams concentrated on a subtopic (tab). The kids had a blast and curated a nice batch of resources. Our teacher had kids create test questions for their "tab" so the kids created the content and the test. See Seattle Academy in the LibGuides Community site.

  8. What a great idea! I love how you included the students on LibGuide content/curation.