May 24, 2017

What can LibGuides do for you?

Posted by Laura Guertin

This is an invited guest post from Annie Jansen, Reference and Instruction Librarian from Penn State Brandywine’s John D. Vairo Library. I hate to admit that when I started my faculty position, I had no idea what LibGuides were, much less how they could benefit my teaching and student learning. Now, I don’t have a class or semester without one, thanks to collaborations with my friendly campus librarians! Here, Annie shares the benefits of course and subject LibGuides. She has blogged previously on GeoEd Trek about Not the water cycle or carbon cycle… but the Information Cycle


LibGuides are an easy to use content management and information sharing system designed specifically for libraries. They can be integrated into most LMS, but are also linked from the library’s homepage, by course number, semester, instructor name, etc. Access to LibGuides is 24/7 and content is presented in a linear fashion, meant to give access to the most relevant information and resources for that topic.

A zoomed snapshot of the menu for the LibGuide Annie created for our outreach program for 7th grade girls – STEM Options (view here)

Librarians utilize them for many different things, including highlighting new books and gathering information on a certain topic of interest. While my library uses LibGuides for each of these purposes (see Penn State Brandywine’s guide about Women in STEM as well as our New Materials page), I personally create guides most often when working with instructors who have asked me to meet with their classes for an information literacy session.

Being part of a very large Penn State University Libraries system, the students I interact with often are either unsure where to start their research or are overwhelmed by the options available to them. Instead of assuming that students take copious notes and follow along diligently as I walk them through databases, search terms, and Boolean logic during our face to face instruction session, creating a LibGuide specifically for their course or assignment allows them to explore at their pace, either during class time or after they have had a chance to digest the information presented to them. I have a “hands-on” time during all face to face sessions, where students have a chance to play around and get started doing research with my help, or on their own. 90% of the time, during these exploratory periods, students are looking at databases and resources from their course specific LibGuide. They haven’t navigated back to the familiar realm of Google, but are instead using something that may still be very new to them. This gives me a chance to reinforce search strategies, and the specific course guide gives me confidence that these students, once they leave the library, will again be able to easily find the resources that are most relevant to their course and assignment.

One of the most important parts of LibGuides is how easily editable they are. I’ve updated a page during a class session, as I’ve noticed something is incorrect or students’ are not interacting with the content as I had expected them to. Guides also easy to embed with multimedia elements and widgets, such as videos, photos, polls, and librarian contact information. This also makes them a useful tool for flipped classroom instruction. As a busy faculty member, I appreciate the ability to make certain tweaks and changes as I have time, as well as reusable content that also makes guides valuable from semester to semester.

Using LibGuides gives me a chance to design a unique page around the learning objectives I have for these students, whether I see them for one 50 minute session or 3 weeks of intensive research. It also gives me a resource to point students toward who’ve missed the library session or have an idea how to look for sources, but don’t know where to begin. They’re a great tool for anyone who wants an easily updatable and navigable page with tons of manageable library content and resources. Many, if not all, university libraries use LibGuides, so connect with your local librarian and have a chat about what LibGuides can do for you!

— Annie Jansen can be reached at [email protected]


Additional information literacy/library-related posts on GeoEd Trek