Jason Puckett With great power comes great bibliography.

27Aug/09Off

LibGuides and Images

Yesterday afternoon I discovered something I hadn't realized about LibGuides, and I thought I'd share the word for other LG users.

One of the cooler features of LG is the ability to copy entire guides, within an institution (so for example if you teach lots of sections of first-year English and need multiple guides with minor changes, you don't have to start from scratch each time) or from one institution to another (so if your friend at another library has a great guide, she can give you permission to copy it and make changes).

When you copy a guide, though, it doesn't actually copy the images that go along with it. It copies the HTML code, which includes pointers to the original images. What this means in practical terms is that if someone makes a copy of my Zotero guide (which has a Creative Commons license, so I'm happy to share as long as I get credit), their copy uses the same images I'm using on my original. Not copies of my images, but the same actual image files get served up to both guides.

Why is this a problem? Well, if I delete one of my images, and a dozen people have copied my guide, I've broken that image on a dozen libraries' sites. If I change the image, it changes on all those sites (maybe in a way the other guide owners don't want). If I'm hosting my images on my library's server instead of buying image space from Springshare, I'm unwittingly providing bandwidth for images on a dozen other libraries' pages.

There are very logical reasons why LibGuides behaves this way. It's relatively easy to copy a page of HTML as opposed to duplicating all the images and changing the code automatically to point to the new copies, and not every institution subscribes to Springshare's optional image hosting add-on. (Fortunately, if you do subscribe to their image hosting, you're not charged for bandwidth.)

As always, Springshare's tech support was quick to respond and clarify the question for me in their forum. Subscribe to this thread if you're interested in getting updates.

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