Online web development platforms enable all reference staff to work on subject guides by James A. Buczynski

Buczynski, J. A. (2009). Online Web Development Platforms Enable All Reference Staff to Work on Subject Guides. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 14(3), 61 – 66.. Open URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10875300903256589

I’m reproducing the author’s supplied abstract here.

    Information technology has disrupted the careers of many professionals over the past decade by changing both what work is performed and how it is performed. Technical skill set gaps among reference staff are a serious problem in libraries today. The library subject or topic research pathfinder continues to play a large supporting role in a library’s reference service, yet few reference departments have a staff compliment in which each and every team member has the same web development skill sets. Research guides are no longer static webpages with organized lists. Online web development services like editime.com and LibGuides enable all staff to equally participate in developing webpages to support reference service, without a steep technical learning curve.

Buczynski argued that it is the lack of technical skill sets that led to “non-techie” librarians not participating in the creation of online subject guides. That the emergence of web publishing platforms like LibGuides level the playing field (Buczynski 2009, p66).




Screenshot of the LibGuides Community Website
I agree that technology has brought greater ease to the pathfinder equation but I think there are more to the equation than technology. A cursory survey of a series of LibGuides’ subject guides cannot help but give me the impression that many libguides have not moved beyond mere organized lists.

If LibGuides can deliver more value for users, then the value has not materialized yet. Perhaps, it has made publishing easier but has it made the guides more useful or effective?

Leaving aside the question of whether such guides meet user needs, they probably hadn’t met librarian self-set standards such as the 4 criteria laid out in Dahl’s article on electronic pathfinders.

Buczynski ended off by saying that it has taken the library community a while to [get over web technology chasm] but that they have arrived.



I wanted to add that this is only the first hurdle in a long journey to “demonstrate” the value of a librarian in the digital age.