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Introduction to LibGuides


The Basics

An introductory guide to the basic features of LibGuides v2.

What are LibGuides?

LibGuides, in a nutshell, is a hosted, web-based content management system that has become very popular with libraries worldwide. At Boston College, we've used LibGuides in a more traditional way, which is to create, curate and publish research and course guides.

With the new LibGuides v2 platform, we will take advantage of its rich edit features, open-ended styling, and flexible APIs in order to develop a rich web presence for the entire library -- not just for course or research guides.

Guide Structure

Russian nesting dolls sitting side by side

You can think of guides like Matryoshka dolls.

Guides are the largest, outermost Matryoshka doll - they contain all of the other dolls, or in this case, pages, boxes, and content.

Pages are the 2nd Matryoshka doll. They provide structure to your guide and the content within it.

Boxes are the 3rd Matryoshka doll. They contain the actual content you want to share. There are 4 different types of boxes in LibGuides:

  1. General: used most of the time, general boxes can contain text, links, databases, books, etc.
  2. Tabbed: similar to General, except you can create multiple tabs within the box, each of which can house its own content items. (It's like an extra Matryoska doll within the box!)
  3. Gallery: displays images, which rotate within the box.
  4. User Profile: displays any user's profile in your system. This is the only type of content this box type displays.

Content items are the smallest of the dolls. They include text, links, databases, books, videos, widgets, RSS feeds, polls, etc.

A guide can contain many pages, a page can contain many boxes, and a box can contain many pieces of content.

LibGuides structure in a hierarchical chart


*Borrowed heavily from Springshare*

Box Types

In a standard box, all of the options below are available:

LibGuides 2.0 box content optionsYou can use any combinations of these options within one box; a visual divider will appear between content types.

When you select a tabbed box type, a gear icon () appears next to the edit icon. The gear icon opens a window that controls tab titles. All standard box content options are available within tabs. 

Screenshot of LibGuides 2.0 edit tab titles box


  1. Boxes change size depending on the amount of box content. One solution would be to constrain tabbed box vertical dimensions and advise guide authors not to overfill tabs, to avoid users having to scroll excessively.
  2. You can't link to a specific tab: if you want to make sure you can link directly to content in a guide, don't put it in a tabbed box.

Gallery boxes provide a way to maximize visual content in a smaller area. Selecting the Gallery option opens a dialogue box for image url input.

Screenshot of LibGuides 2.0 Gallery image url input box

You can draw image url's from shared or personal image folders in LibGuides, or insert url's from anywhere on the web, such as the wikimedia commons image of Humayun's Tomb in the gallery below. You can also input link url's, such as for the Hathi Trust image, which takes a user to the Hathi Trust site in a new window.


1. As with tabbed boxes, image sizes change the box height. When the slideshow begins advancing automatically, changing box sizes become irritating.

2. Smaller images do not fill the box width. Images need to be selected or resized for optimum box dimensions.

3. Link parameters are unclear; finding linkable areas in the image is not as straightforward as it should be. (This could be an issue that SpringShare will resolve.)

4. Label and caption lettering is not always visible over the image, depending on image colors and contrast. (Adding labels and captions is optional, however.)

In LibGuides 1.0, profile boxes would appear by default on every page. LibGuides 2.0 treats profile boxes like any other box type: they can appear anywhere, and are not set to appear by default. All LibCal and LibAnswers chat widgets should continue to function in the LibGuides 2.0 environment. You will need to reinstall them, however.

screenshot of LibGuides 2.0 profile box

Guide Author

Profile Photo
Jesse Martinez
O'Neill Library 503
Boston College

How is LibGuides pronounced?

Is the "Lib" pronounced as in "liberation" or as in "library"?

According to SpringShare, the "Lib" in LibGuides should be pronounced as in "liberation", but everyone will know what you mean if you pronounce it otherwise!

Additional Resources