Research Guides

A workshop on the core mechanics

October 2, 2014

History (for context)

Long ago, we had "Subject guides"


Subject guides

  • Manually maintained (lots of copy-pasta links)
  • Constrained by Web guidelines and CMS technology


From subject guides to research guides

  • Centralize electronic resource info: edit once to fix everywhere
  • Offer guidance beyond lists of links
  • Support content editing directly by liaison librarians


From research guides to almost a full site

  • Never meant to be a full web CMS
    • but "LU Web as brochure" forced our hand
  • Never meant to be split across two sites
    • but we have vs.

Goals for this session

  • Learn to do the best you can with what we have
  • Get hands-on with the core functionality
  • WIBNI thoughts about the research guides are welcome
    • ... but need to be balanced against all of our library's other goals

Getting started: the test server

Learn on Test

But work on Production

  • Copying from test to production is not recommended
  • Links get confused and lead users to the test system
  • Images get uploaded to test; links lead to test; then test gets refreshed and the images are broken

Exercise 1: Log on

Use your Laurentian ID to log in.


  • "Database" is a pretty broad definition at this point:
    • Ebook collections
    • TERMIUM Plus
    • ...

Exercise 2: Create a new database

See the Exercise sheet

Exercise 3: Find existing content

  1. Click My Account. Your user account page displays.
  2. Click Search content in research guides. The content search page appears.
  3. Use the Type, Language, Published filters to narrow down your search.
    • Note: Searching by typing in the name sometimes works.

Exercise 4: Trial databases

Turn your database entry into a trial database that times out next week.

  1. Find your database.
  2. Edit the database by entering a start and end date for the trial.
  3. Save your changes and ensure your database shows up on the Resources -> Electronic resources -> Free trials page.

Exercise 5: Multidisciplinary databases

Add your database to the multidisciplinary list.

  1. Find your database.
  2. Edit the database by checking the Multidisciplinary checkbox.
  3. Save your changes and ensure your database shows up on the Resources -> Electronic resources -> Multidisciplinary databases page.

Custom database lists

Custom database lists

  • Contain any entries you want from the database A-Z list
  • Can be ordered (but it's painful)
  • Are not translated, because some resources may be suitable for one language and not the other

Exercise 6: Create a custom database list

  1. Click Add Content -> Database list.
  2. Enter the title of the database list.
  3. Use the slushbox widget to move entries to the right.
  4. Save your work.

Caution: Preview considered harmful

  • Don't use Preview to look at your database list.
  • If you have not saved your work, you will lose all of the entries in the list.
  • If you then click Save, you will turn your list into an empty list.

Yes, it's a bug.

About Revisions

  • Consider creating a New revision when saving edits.
  • For databases and database lists, you can revert to previous versions if something bad happens.
  • Sadly, doesn't work for all research guide content. WIBNI...?


What's wrong here?

Exercise 7: Add a new translation

  1. Find your database. If you set the language of your database, there is a Translate tab.
  2. Click Translate -> Add translation. A copy of the database edit page opens.
  3. The language will be set correctly, but you may have to edit the title, description, URL, etc.
  4. Click Save.
  5. Click Translate and notice that there is now a translation set.

Ahh, much better.

Research Guides


Design philosophy

  • One web page per guide
  • Unlimited tabs per guide
  • Up to three columns per tab
  • One or more panels of HTML content per column
  • Unlimited panels per column

A little less than chaos

Recommendations: structure

  • First tab should have the critical content:
    • Mobile experience
    • Scannable content
  • Move towards one or two columns
    • Mobile experience
    • Scannable content
  • Too many tabs? Your guide is pregnant! Split it up.
    • Mobile experience
    • Scannable content

Mobile experience

Exercise 8: Create a new research guide

  1. Click Add content -> Subject guide.
  2. Enter the title of the guide.
  3. Select the faculty, school, or department to which it belongs (or Service for a library service).
  4. Select the language of the guide.
  5. In Subject Guide Pages, add the list of tabs your guide needs.
  6. By default, the guide is not published. Click Save.

Exercise 9: Set the layout for a tab of your research guide

  1. Find your research guide. (Hint: My account)
  2. The name of the active tab appears as a main heading on the page. Click the heading. The panel editing page opens.
  3. Select a layout for your tab by clicking Panel layout.
    • The default is a single column layout.
    • Click the radio button above the layout you want, even if there is only one choice.

You have to set the layout for each tab in your guide. I know, right?

Exercise 10: Set the display style of a tab

  1. From the panel editing page, click Panel content to add content.
  2. Click Display settings in the top left corner and select Rounded corners.
  3. Click Next.
  4. Select Each pane from the drop-down list to apply the style to all panels on the tab.

Exercise 11: Add panels to a column

  1. From the panel editing page, click Panel content to add content.
  2. At the top left corner of each column header is a gear icon. Click gear icon -> Add content to add a panel. The Add content window opens.
  3. Click New custom content to create a new panel. The Configure new custom content window opens.
  4. Enter an administrative title: this distinguishes the panel from any other panel in search. Use Research guide name - Tab name - Panel name.
  5. Enter a title: this is displayed to the user as the heading for the panel.
  6. Add your HTML content using the WYSIWYG editor.
  7. Clear the Use context keywords checkbox.
  8. Click Finish. The Configure new custom content window closes. You are not yet finished.
  9. Click Save to actually save your work.