Springshare’s LibGuides and LibMarks (and new widgets…)

Okay, so I kind of sort of thought that I would like LibGuides. I was wrong. I am totally addicted to LibGuides. My sig. other was sitting next to me at one point as I was testing it out and even he gasped at how awesome the bookmarklets were.

So anyway, here is my review.

Creating a guide is ridiculously simple. You sign in to your account, choose the option to create a new guide, enter a title for your guide as well as a description (that’s optional, I think), and you are set to go.

That is what the page looks like after you first set it up. By this point, I had also added a box (clicking on “add new box” does that little trick…) that was links with text, but the above screenshot was before I added any actual links.

By clicking on Add New Info Link, you get to this screen (above), where you actually get to add the link, a description, and any additional information. Once you’ve entered the link information, you get tossed back to the main page, where if you click on the newly appearing stars next to your entered link, you can rate the link.

Presumably, though I haven’t tested this out, other people can change the ranking by voting on the resource themselves. That makes a lot of sense, since certainly what I think is a 5 star resource might actually be a 3 star resource for most people.

The little “i” icon next to each link in your box opens up a window with more information about the resource (whatever you stick in the last box of the link entry form, basically).

You can reorder the links, add new links, delete or edit links, or delete boxes at any time.

There are the main boxes in the middle of the page (where my links were), as well as sidebar boxes on the left, and then a profile box for the librarian creating the guide on the right-hand side. For the left-hand side boxes, I decided to add a poll.

For every box you add, you get to choose the type. The options that you get for entering information in that box are then customized to the type of box you chose. For instance, in the screenshot above, I am entering my poll question. A second link lets you enter the poll answers.

 

I found the poll creation really simple. I of course voted in my own poll, and it gave instantaneous results, just like you’d expect from a web polling system.

 

It didn’t even let me spam my own poll with answers, so the sig. other was foiled when he tried to vote using my account.

 

There are a lot of other types of boxes that you can add, including importing RSS feeds, embedding videos or podcasts, having text boxes, and more.

 

An RSS box… (above)

An events calendar… (below)

 

An embedded video… (below)

 

I first tried to embed a video in a side box, but it overflowed out of the box. When I tried to capture that using ScreenGrab!, it erased the video, but you get the idea…

I ended up redoing the video one in a larger box, which mostly worked. This was actually one of the only technical problems I ran across; somehow the embedded Flash video kept overlaying the rest of Springshare’s windows, so when I tried to edit the poll in the side box, the editing part went underneath the video.

 

(While I was working on this post, Slaven at Springshare emailed this to me: “the video you posted is just a tad bit wider than the width of the middle column, which is pushing your away from the right column so the formatting is slightly messed up. We are aware of this issue and are fixing it, but in the meantime, if your Video is too wide for the center column, you can click on Page Options and Toggle columns, which will convert your page into a 2 column layout (one super-wide content column which can nicely handle your wide-format videos + your profile column). That should fix the problem for now.”)

You can also rearrange the order of boxes at any time, in an ajax-y way that reminded me a lot of WordPress.

In addition, you can customize colors and styles. The default is blue with rounded boxes. I experimented a bit and came up with a Facebook-style one, too.

That (above) was the Facebook-style one. Here’s another style:

There are also some nice statistics available for your guides. Obviously, my guide’s stats aren’t very impressive, but here is the idea of what you would see, anyway.

There’s also the new feature the Springshare folk just released yesterday: the LibGuide widgets. You can put a widget with your guides, selected guides from your institution, or just a guide anywhere you can paste code. Here is an example widget I made by adding 3 guides I didn’t create.

I’m into the green and orange today. :)

Other features of LibGuides? The Facebook integration has been much spoken of, and indeed, it works quite nicely. If you’ve got a Facebook account, you can add the LibGuides application and then choose Springshare Library to test the widest amount of guides currently available (it’s the demo library). I hope to test the integration out a little more soon, but from my initial tests, it works just fine.

My favorite LibGuides find by far was the bookmarklet to post links to LibGuides. Just like any social bookmarking-type bookmarklet, you drag it to your IE or Firefox toolbar (does anyone actually still USE IE?) and then click on it whenever you are at a page you want to add a link to in your LibGuide.

You choose which guide, which page, which box, etc to add the link to. How easy is that?? So much nicer than having multiple applications open at once and having to copy and paste between them whenever you have a new link to add.

I tested LibMarks out, too, and was not as impressed as I was with LibGuides, but as I am a diehard del.icio.us fanatic, perhaps that is no great surprise. :)

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3 responses to “Springshare’s LibGuides and LibMarks (and new widgets…)

  1. Do you see this replacing the current way your library presents selected Web resources?

    I’ve looked at this briefly, but I’m not sure whether to pursue this further, as it would replace a SQL Server/ColdFusion method that is very embedded in our Website and would be hard to convince others to replace.

  2. At my institution, no (firewalls–lots and lots of firewalls). For other institutions, definitely. It’s so easy to use. And, I know that Springshare is up for working with institutions to meet their needs, whether it be customization or features.

  3. Pingback: How to design a LibGuide « Mick’s Weblog

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