LibGuides – What to Call Them?

Like a lot of libraries, we use the popular LibGuides program from Springshare. First purchased in 2009, our stats have increased greatly each year: from 3,506 hits in 2009-2010, to over 44,000 hits in 2011-2012. LibGuides are popular with both students and faculty–even getting to the point of students asking us, “Why isn’t there a guide for my other class?” — “Tell your professor to talk to us!”  we say…

One issue the library staff has dealt with is terminology. Among the librarians, we use the term “LibGuides”–but we avoid using the term when branding the resource to students and faculty. On our website, we simply label them as “Guides.” However, after completing a user survey of our library services, resources, and website, several respondents reported being unsure of terminology–and what exactly a “Guide” entailed–was it for a specific class, or a broad subject area?

Curious to see how other library websites have termed their LibGuides, I posted a survey to ILI-L (the instruction/information literacy discussion list) to find out. I had 130 respondents. Here are the results:

What Do You Call the LibGuides Link on Your Library's Website?

The term “Research Guides” was, by far, the number one choice. It also matched the preferred term of students in a survey done by Mark Aaron Polger, “Student Preferences in Library Website Vocabulary” published in Library Practice and Philosophy, 2011:

Excerpt: A survey of 300 college students asked, “What term on the library website do your prefer if you need help with research?”

  • 36% chose “Research Guides”
  • 20% chose “Resources by Subject”
  • 18% chose “Research Help”
  • 16% chose “Library Guides”
  • 10% chose “Subject Guides”

After getting feedback from our own students, we decided to change the link name to “Research Guides” – after all, the resource is there for the students. We want them to know what it is–and to use it.

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5 thoughts on “LibGuides – What to Call Them?

  1. Pingback: Core – What to call LibGuides

  2. Hi there!

    We call them “Research Guides” when dealing with students or faculty, but “LibGuides” internally.

    I never really understood the need for a simpler term for them. If it were up to me, I’d just call them “LibGuides”. Usually students are pretty good at figuring these things out. I mean, they don’t need to know who E.B. Stevens was to know that they can find information in “EBSCO”. Even if no one figures out that “Lib” is short for “Library, they probably could have just learned that a “Libguide” was a thing that shows them information on a subject. [shrugs]

  3. Of course this has perhaps more to do with what you actually use the LibGuides cms for than just with choosing a name. It is more describing what they are. We just stick to LibGuides because we plan to have all kinds of them: course guides, training guides, topic guides, infoliteracy guides, search engine and database guides etc.

  4. We call them program guides, since they are divided (mainly) by program, the term our institution uses for course of study.

    Our guides have expanded beyond simply presenting research options, anyway (e.g. e-reserves).

  5. Pingback: “What’s in a name?… « readin' stuff

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