One library (… insert as needed … ) to rule them all …

At the moment we are reviewing aspects of our subject guides on our library website – a project that is considering the use of Libguides. Seeing Anali Perry’s Scholarly Communication page on Arizona State University Libraries’  site got me thinking that maybe the Libguides software could be used to create a bunch of pages rather than just subject guides orientated at students. Brian Mathews takes this further when he asks Why not use LibGuides as your Content Management System? In this post he makes a further leap and explores the idea that academic library websites will eventually utilise a “universal design”:

I imagine in ten years there will be a definitive design that we will all use or purchase. Our sites will go the way of research guides. We all use to approach these differently, but then came LibGuides and the rest is history. (1200+ libraries in 25 countries use LibGuides—why aren’t you?) It seems that everyone is using this product these days—why develop your own clunky system when you can have something that looks slick and is easy for both patrons and content managers? In a matter of a few years LibGuides has quickly emerged as the solution for how we package resources by subject.

 So… what about a common Content Management System for us all? Drupal seems to be gaining traction—but it is a huge investment in terms of up-front time and expertise. I’m not ripping on it—it’s what we’re moving into but… what about just using LibGuides instead? What if we just used the LibGuides template for our entire library website rather than just as a wrapper for subject guides

I take a leap of my own now onto the subject of public libraries. Several public libraries in New Zealand have, or intend to, collaborate and use the same library system in a co-operative fashion. How far could we extend this? At the moment in New Zealand many local authorities are seeking to impose additional fees on library users which  threatens the concept of an accessible public library service. Would it be feasible to really strengthen the “library brand” and completely turn the idea of public library governance on its head. Shift the responsibility of the provision of public libraries from local to central government with consistent service delivery, fees, and sharing of resources across one mega-system. (Yep, the chances of central govt wanting to pick up that tab are zero, given that they consistently seek to devolve services to local government!). But could we be doing more of this ourselves? Working collaboratively on issues such as service standards, assessing the impact of our services and marketing messages for instance? What if everyone in New Zealand could have one library card they could use in any public library? How far would be willing to go to strengthen (and protect) the brand “library”?

Improving library tutorials by “making it their idea”

In The Library with the Lead Pipe has come up trumps again with another great post – Making it their idea: The Learning Cycle in library instruction. Working from the idea that:

very few advertisements tell people explicitly to do anything. They present information that leads customers to come up with the idea of buying their product on their own

… the author draws a parallel to this with using active learning and critical thinking to teach students library and research skills.

Key to this utilisation of The Learning Cycle*:

The learning cycle instructional method – giving students a new situation, asking them to make sense of it, and serving merely as a guide in their process – models the way people learn, and as a result, generates authentic, meaningful learning experiences for students. Compared to lecturers or demonstrations where students are told what the answers are and then perform exercises that verify that what they are told is correct, they are making the new knowledge out of their own ideas.

Not surprisingly this approach can be more time-consuming. One of the solutions is an idea proposed by Donald (2010)** that involves:

offloading most of the technical details to online tutorials and leaning models

Given we have now developed a range of online tutorials here at Massey, this could well be one way of utilising them and incorporating them as an extension of our library classes. 

*Cavallo, A.M.L. (2008). Experiencing the nature of science: An interactive, begining-of-semester activity. Journal of College Science Teaching, 37(5), 12-15.
**Donald, J. (2010). Using technology to support faculty and enhance coursework at academic institutions. Texas Library Journal, 85(4), 129-131 http://www.txla.org/ce/Collaboration/Donald.pdf