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On LibGuides (and the dangers of relying on free lunch)

It’s a new semester here in Springfield and I’ve been reflecting again.  (This post is kinda connected to the next, so please read on. It will be up soon.)

I am a huge fan of free apps for creativity and productivity and dynamic information gathering.

No surprise that in this blog I frequently celebrate the open source movement and the ever growing array of free web-based, collaborative apps.

Interestingly, although I have no trouble spending money on databases and print materials to supply content to my users, I have a little trouble spending on products and tools that might make my own practice more efficient and effective.

I now recognize that I need to rethink that policy.

I’ve been burned a few times this year, most notably by the flickering unreliability of PageFlakes as a pathfinder platform.  You see, I spend a lot of time building pathfinders and other guides for my learners and teachers. I need to be able to rely on my platform. And I want that platform to grow with me and changes in the information landscape.

I’ve been playing with LibGuides for a few weeks now and I have fallen deeply in love.

Buffy, you were right, my friend!  I am so impressed with the scalability, flexibility, stability, and features.   It’s early in my migration process, and at this point I have barely scratched the surface.

But right now I can say that I love that:

  • I can embed like crazy, combining my own content–my documents, handouts, advice, with dynamic widgets and feeds and video and search boxes.
  • I can borrow from the brilliance of a community of other librarian creators.
  • I can flexibly move my boxes around a page and copy them on multiple pages.
  • I can customize my pages with color, font, and my own banner branding
  • I can invite multiple editors (like teachers, my practicum students, our volunteers)
  • There is support.  Unlike the confusion you feel when your favorite free tool just up and disappears or surprisingly goes down or adds unexpected premium prices.  There are a multitude of models and options and templates for sharing in the LibGuides Community Site. There’s a Springshare Lounge for user discussions, a support blog. thorough FAQs, phone and email support, and webinars!
  • I am exploring new features like mobile apps, a browser button for easy additions, Twitter and Facebook news and updates, and a link checker.
  • For a reasonable price I can rely on the survival of my professional content.

LibGuides lists these articles by teacher librarians and examples of how school libraries are currently using LibGuides as a platform for pathfinders and for their full sites:

At this point I am gradually migrating content–my pathfinders and database lists.  My content will likely continue to be a bit of a mash-up of a variety of tools,  Here are the beginnings of my new database pages and my new resource guide on the research process.  (More on that guide next post.)

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. What is “reasonably priced?” I’m interested.

  2. Tina Glatz says:


    I absolutely love LibGuides! It’s easy to use and reliable and my teachers and students are using it like crazy! It’s neat to see my school library listed as an example of a school library using LibGuides.

    Tina Glatz
    Onate High School Library
    Las Cruces, New Mexico

  3. Joyce,
    I spent some time checking out your work. First of all, great job. Next, I think this is a hugely flexible tool that we should have available to all teachers in Springfield. I could see, oh, about 10 million applications for this. (Starting with my newsletter for next year!) Let’s chat soon so we can get the ball rolling in Springfield!

  4. Oh Kristen, yeah! Love working with you!


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