Troubleshooting LibGuide

Over the past few weeks, DMU Library’s Content Delivery (CD) Team have been working on constructing a LibGuide to assist DMU Library staff with online resources troubleshooting. The objective of the team was to better help library staff recognise online resources problems (e.g. problems affecting library online databases, eJournals and eBooks) that users may report via an information desk, the library’s Just Ask email service or over the phone. The team not only wanted to help staff identify such problems, but aimed to provide general troubleshooting guidance in a “one-stop-shop” portal – guidance which staff could access quickly to improve library interaction & communication with users.

There seemed to be an appetite amongst library staff for such an online guide. Content Delivery hosted team days for library colleagues in late November 2012, and the idea of a troubleshooting guide gained a positive reaction from attendees. I also gave a presentation on online resources troubleshooting with a colleague at a COMPI (Content Management Planning & Innovation) Team away-day in December 2012, and again the feedback from team members about the creation of a CD LibGuide was upbeat.

So, after the Christmas / New Year holiday, the team began the prep to create the guide. The LibGuides structure was already in place as DMU subject librarians had built new individual subject pages for library users to consult during 2012. Content Delivery referred to these exisiting guides as a starting point – looking at the types of information other subject guides featured and covered. LibGuides allows you to create separate page tabs within your online guide; each page can then feature boxes of content or information for users to view, read and interact with.

The first job for the team was to attempt to “categorise” online resources problems. This was a challenging task, as there are no general “hard and fast” rules in this area it seems – most access problems may be a mix of errors or systems not working together (authentication, security settings etc). I have previously blogged on this online resources “definition” difficulty. In the end, the team came up with five general resource problem “types”:

  • Resource error message
  • Subscription problem
  • Authentication error (e.g. DMU Single Sign On)
  • Mobile or tablet access difficulty
  • “User” education – clicking on the wrong link etc

The next part was to try and provide troubleshooting info for library staff to pass on and advise users at frontline library service points (info desks, roving) in an engaging and easy-to-read format. This may be general technical guidance staff could impart to users to try and fix an access problem, or key questions to ask users to help diagnose resource errors more effectively. 

The CD Team decided to create separate page tabs for each of the resource problem types (as mentioned above). These individual page tabs give an outline of the resource problem “type” in brief bullet points (e.g. a subscription problem usually displays a pay-wall message asking for the user to pay for access), then go on to inform staff how they might logically go about potentially fixing the problem for the user (e.g. check that the user is entering the correct Single Sign On login).

The LibGuides format also allowed CD to provide bitesize “snippets” of technical information in small boxes which feature on the LibGuide page tabs (e.g. Clearing Your Internet Cache). This “box” approach seems to de-clutter the pages quite nicely, especially where a page is text-heavy, and filter information to staff in a clear and concise way. LibGuide boxes can also be re-used and copied to other pages within the same LibGuide – this saved a lot of admin time for CD staff when creating the page. A number of the information boxes appear more than once in the guide (e.g. linking to the @LibraryDMU Twitter feed), so the ability to immediately re-use content was a time saving bonus for the team.

The final two page tabs on the troubleshooting LibGuide were dedicated to what the CD Team can do to help if the user is still having access problems, and future work CD are putting into place to try an improve the way resource problems are dealt with in the library. We also set up a “feedback” box for library staff to engage with and provide comments on the use and value of the troubleshooting LibGuide. As the LibGuide is quite easy to edit, the CD team are very interested to hear about additional content staff want to appear on the guide.

I would be interested to hear how other libraries have tackled the issue of troubleshooting online resources access problems. Have you created a LibGuide? Something else for staff to use? Please do feel free to leave comments or tweet me with your feedback / views!

The troubleshooting LibGuide URL is



About Mitchell Dunkley

I work in the Content Delivery Team at De Montfort University Library. I manage DMU Library's e-resources portfolio and I am involved in library systems admin, collating resource usage statistics and troubleshooting. All comments are my own.
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