April 9, 2008
Professional Reading: Turning Static Pathfinders Into Dynamic Online Resources
Demonstrating my utter lack of imagination, I led the charge for converting print-based subject guides and pathfinders into quasi-static web pages at the University of Cincinnati Law Library a couple of years ago. At the time I was thinking that it would be easier to update webpages and distribute download-able PDF files, while saving a few trees in the process. But someone still had to code the updates or create the PDF files, and that work couldn't be distributed to all pathfinder authors because many didn't know how to compose in HTLM, most we didn't want to have web server authorization for uploading purposes because we were fearful of the Oops factor, and, alas, we were too cash-strapped to hand out PDF-creator software to everyone. In other words, delays.
Plus the "ownership" aspect of our publications tended to reduce collaboration. That meant our pathfinders and subject guides revealed relative strength and weakness in covering both online and print resources. While that may be good for management purposes in terms of identifying competencies, it was bad for the users of our publications.
There's a number of better ways to create and update web-based pathfinders and subject guides. Edward M. Corrado and Kathryn A. Frederick review cost-effective options in their Free and Open Source Options for Creating Database-Driven Subject Guides (Code4Lib Issue 2, 2008-03-24). The article discusses both the functionality and the relative strengths and weaknesses of open source database-driven solutions (such as SubjectsPlus, LibData, Research Guide, and Library Course Builder), social bookmarking sites, blogs, wikis, and eCourse management systems. [JH]
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