LibGuides are helping students to conduct higher quality research

Newman University LibGuides Screenshot

Dugan Library has recently added LibGuides, an online content management system created by Springshare, to their website for students to conduct higher quality research for their projects.

Through LibGuides, students can be directed to resources such as books they can borrow from libraries and academic research articles that would normally be hard to find or even cost them money to print or order.

Director of Library Services Steve Hamersky and Librarian Jeanette Parker decided to begin using the database at the beginning of the fall 2015 semester. The response has been astounding.

Jeanette Parker

Jeanette Parker

"We can monitor the usage on the back end," said Parker. "And the number from the 2015-16 academic year is equal to the one fall 2016 semester, so we've nearly doubled in usage in just that six-month period."

It's so popular in fact that students are coming into the library asking when more of the courses they are taking will have their own LibGuides page.

Parker is working with individual professors to develop course guides for individual courses offered at Newman. "We have pages for the subject guides, which are more general than a course guide," she said. "There are 30 different subject areas that are taught here, so it took around eight months to get all those areas' input and looking consistent throughout."

Once those were complete, Parker was able to create course guides, which are assignment specific to the actual classes offered to Newman students, with the help of Newman professors. When a professor sends her information on the course, their guidelines, and even a syllabus, she can then create the course guide for them. This gives students an even deeper understanding of what they need to succeed on their projects.

Steve Hamersky

Steve Hamersky (Photo by Sadie Korte)

Recently, Hamersky and Parker attended the Kansas Library Association Annual Conference to give a presentation on LibGuides. Hamersky said, "Most sessions had about 10 or 15 people in them. We had more than double the audience in ours because we all have the same problem to solve — how do we give students access to better research."

Parker added, "We gave a 50-minute presentation and the questions after lasted for almost an hour. People were wanting to know how we are using it and how it’s working for us." She said that other college librarians have even made a personal visit to Dugan Library to talk with them one-on-one about how they are using the resource.

But at the end of the day, the main focus is on the students. "The hope is, not only are they accessing the resources," said Parker, "but they are using them better. They are looking harder and finding the best sources for their projects rather than defaulting to Google or settling for whatever they find first."

Parker said that the students seem much more engaged with the classes and she is "really excited how this makes research better and easier for the students."

"With LibGuides, students will find the high-quality resources their instructor wants them to have for their assignment," said Parker. She also loves how user-friendly the site is. "Some sites or databases are very confusing — this one isn’t intimidating at all for the students." Static URLs and easy navigation is part of what makes the database so user-friendly.

The use of the database also came with the benefit of increased interaction between the students and the librarians. Parker said, "After visiting the classes and talking to the students, if they need more in-depth help, they’ve met us and feel a lot more comfortable coming in and approaching us."

The library will continue to offer this service to students, not only because of the great response it has garnered, but also because it offers high-quality resources to the students and helps to build their confidence. "We feel like this is really helping the students build confidence in their work," Hamersky said. "They are learning to do better research, which in turn helps the student write a better paper, and in the end get a better grade."

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