Making research guides more useful and more well used by Michal Strutin

Strutin, M. (2008). Making research guides more useful and more well used. [Online Journal]. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship(55).

I’m reproducing the author supplied abstract to facilitate the discussion.

    In summer 2008, a small group of Santa Clara University librarians were charged with exploring ways of making online library research guides more user friendly and interactive. In order to know how to enhance our guides, we first asked the question, “What makes a research guide useful?” What follows is a detailed process of discovery. The process started with literature on guides, which suggests that research guides, particularly general subject guides, are not well used. Examining statistics for science guides supports the contention that course-specific guides are the most well used. Interviews with students told what they look for in guides. Finally, research on platforms revealed choices for nimble creation of research guides.

This article sets about to explore how they can make their online library research guides more useful and interactive. The information in this article is delivered in a narrative, a chronological account of the librarian/author’s involvement in this university library project.

Through literature reviews, usage statistics analysis and interviews with student employees, the author was able to identify that the most popular research guides are course-specific in an academic setting.

The next 2 factors were a nimble content management system so that content can be produced quickly and homepage publicity to increase awareness of the existence of these guides.

Strutin ends with a list of attributes that should produce well-used guide:

  1. Ease of use
  2. Ease of creation and maintenance
  3. Course-specific
  4. Shown and used in information literacy session (publicity)
  5. Linked at courseware site (publicity)
  6. Recommended by course’s instructor (publicity)
  7. Design and feature consistency with library’s other research guides
  8. Good library home page real estate (publicity)
  9. Interactivity / “human face” via embedded chat

Read the full article here