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SpringyNews - On the Flip Side

December 2021

LibGuides Tips & Tricks for Thinking on the Flip Side

A big component of thinking on the flip side is thinking about how your patrons experience things. And that's really hard - especially from the perspective of a librarian. You can't 'unlearn' things, so it's hard to remove your predispositions. The following LibGuides Tips & Tricks give you ideas for thinking more like your patrons while still reducing your workflows and policies, and coming at things from a fresh new perspective.

- Happy LibGuiding!

1. Using a Blog as Your Guide's Homepage

Part of enacting the flip-side, is to flip your thought process on things. Entirely. Flip the script. Come at a scenario with a totally fresh perspective. And for many of you, how to handle the first page of your LibGuide deserves that fresh perspective. Some of you use it as a 'Welcome' page to introduce patrons to your guide. Others use it as a 'Hit List' highlighting the best resources on that topic. 

But, what about making your first page a blog?! 

Crazy? Maybe. Innovative? For sure. Let's scope it out.


  • Content Looks Fresh: Often times we create LibGuides and don't always have the time to keep them up-to-date. A blog homepage, where you're publishing a new post at least monthly, lets you keep a fresh look to your LibGuides.
  • Running Dialog: Is this an older guide that has been revamped? Think of your blog as a running dialog used to archive its changes over time. This way, your users can see quickly what's been added or changed in your guide with some quick highlights.
  • Current News Stays Current: Almost every guide you build, even Ancient History, will have some current component you can factor in. A LibGuide on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s can have a 'What's Happening Now' blog homepage to tie in what happened then with what's happening now. 
  • Share New Resources/Events: Did you order a new book? Add a new journal to your collection? Hosting a connected event? Don't let that new resource or event to get lost in the other pages! Use your Blog homepage to highlight NEW stuff related to that topic.

Things to Think About

  • Requires Maintenance: The TRAAP approach to evaluating resources contains timeliness as the first principle. When was the last time this resource was revised? is a question we encourage patrons to ask themselves when evaluating a resource. So, if you use a blog as a homepage, make sure you're publishing at least one new post a month. 
  • Not for Every LibGuide: This idea may not work on every LibGuide you build. Nor should it. If you've built 20 LibGuides, all with a blog homepage, that would mean you'd be writing 20 blog posts a month. You probably don't have time for that.
  • Pin a Post: Still want to create a welcome message? Create a short 'welcome' post and pin it to the top of your blog! This way, patrons will still get a Welcome message but can scroll down to the latest posts.
  • Blog Subscribers: Patrons can sign-up to receive email alerts of new blog posts! So, it's a great way to push new content to patrons directly from your LibGuides. Craft blog posts carefully as they might end up in user's inboxes and you want them to read those emails, not trash them.

Creating a Blog Homepage:

2. Changing the 'Login to LibApps' Language

Thinking like your patrons doesn't have to involve huge changes to have a big impact. Small, tiny changes can sometimes have a big result. 

To that end, did you know that you can change the 'Login to LibApps' language at the bottom of your LibGuides screen? For you, it makes total sense. Login to edit my LibGuides. But thinking on the flip side, like your patrons, this might be super confusing. They might even try to login using their library account, especially since that behavior is ingrained in them from other library-owned websites. 

Consider Changing That Language to 'Librarian Login'


  • Navigate to Admin > Look & Feel
  • Language Options Tab > Language Customization Section
  • Under Global > Key Id 22 > 'Login to LibGuides'
  • Enter your new language to the right > Save

3. Adding Guide Boxes to Your Databases A-Z Page

HTML/CSS Knowledge Required

"If they need help, they can just go to our library homepage" is a bit reductive. Sometimes, your help needs to be where they are, and not the other way around.

And if there's one thing that confuses patrons, it's library databases. Some databases are ejournals and articles. Others are databases of ebooks. And other databases can help them learn a new language. So, what exactly is a database and how do your patrons know which ones to use for their current needs?

Instructions: Add 'Get Help' Content Box to Your LibGuides A-Z Page

Step One: Create the 'Get Help' content box!

Consider creating one that contains:

  • Live LibChat widget: Promote live screensharing assistance.
  • LibCal Appointment Scheduler: For scheduling deeper one-on-one assistance. 

Step Two: Grab the Box ID

Step 3: Add Your Box ID to the Template Keyword


This is an optional keyword you can use to add a box to your A-Z List from one of your guides. Just replace the <id> with the box's ID number. For example: {{content_box_123456}} for box ID 123456.

Step 4: Adding the Customized Template Keyword to the A-Z Template

HTML/CSS Knowledge Required:

(Optional) Step 5: Customizing the Box to Match the Look & Feel of your A-Z Page

The default LibGuides A-Z page has some custom stylings and if you want your newly added box to match the look and feel of that page, you'll need to add some inline CSS code.

As a reminder, creating custom code is currently outside of our support scope, so we can't help you if you want to match specific stylings. Where possible we'd recommend working with a staff member that knows CSS code. If that isn't an option, a good place to discuss customizations is the Springshare Lounge. We have a great community of LibGuide users posting there, so we're sure someone can assist you!


All that stated, here is some CSS code that should give you a running start in styling your content box to look like the other side column content:

  • You will need to replace <id> in the code below with your content box id (see Step 2 above).
<style> /*style for terms content box h2*/
#s-lg-box-<id> h2 {
border-bottom: 1px solid #a2a2a2;
color: #686868;
font: 700 16px Arial,Geneva,Helvetica,sans-serif;
background-image: none !important;
padding-left: 0;
/*style to make terms content box float*/
#s-lg-box-<id> {
box-shadow: none;
border: none;

4. Adding Bootstrap On-Hover Tooltips to Anything

Basic HTML Knowledge Needed

We often focus much of our energies on the content inside our LibGuides. Finding and adding the right resources, checking links, and more. However, we don't often think about the usability of that content. Is it too text-heavy? Are there too many instructions? Is there too much copy?

Design and usability directly impact the usefulness of your resources. Study after study shows this to be true. 

And if you're thinking of ways to reduce the amount of copy on your page but still include important information, use Bootstrap Tooltips!


  • LibGuides infrastructure includes Bootstrap 3.4.1. 
  • Follow these instructions to add on-hover tips to links and images!
    • Important Note: Do NOT include JQuery calls. LibGuides already has JQuery baked in.
  • Bootstrap tooltips are accessible. Screen readers read both the target content and hover content on keyboard navigation.
  • Tip: Don't put more than a few words in your tooltip!


  1. Hover over me!

  2. Hover over this image

5. Cleaning Up & Removing Outdated Content

Now that we're hopefully on the flip side of this pandemic, Omicron strain notwithstanding, it might be time to review your LibGuides content and double-check the accuracies of your policies and procedures. For many of you, that's not currently possible - but hopefully we won't see a winter COVID spike and the 'getting back to normal' process can continue into the months beyond. 

Using Search & Replace for COVID-Related Language

If your policies have changed in recent weeks, or months, have you remembered to check every webpage? In the early days of March 2020, when everyone was suddenly online... librarians were throwing up web content at record amounts to suddenly meet that fully online need. Using Search & Replace, you can ensure that your policy content is consistent across your many hundreds of LibGuides. 

Try Searching (not Replacing!):

  • Set the Search Type to ‘Content Item’.
  • Terms to Search: 'COVID' , 'Online', 'Zoom', 'Social Distancing' > this will yield all guide content that contains these terms.
    • Tip: Be sure to check the box, "ignore capitalization' to find all variations. 
  • Copy the results into a spreadsheet.
  • Work through the spreadsheet, checking each result to ensure the information is accurate and current. 
  • Keep the spreadsheet and revisit again in 6-months (set a calendar reminder!). 
  • Need more help? This FAQ covers all the ins and outs of Search & Replace.