Maryland State Library Resource Center

Enoch Pratt Free Library

Research Guides

Subjects

About Web Guides

A web guide is an online collection of web resources and information that may contain anything from in-depth assistance on researching a particular topic, to an annotated list of links on a broad subject or a current event. Depending on the topic, the size and scope of each guide may vary. Maryland State Library Resource Center librarians have created and maintain more than 200 web guides. Though the guides are created primarily for library customers, they also serve to assist other Maryland state librarians who are looking for reputable resources on behalf of their customers.

Librarians generally create the guides based on need, such as in response to frequent questions on a topic, to a current event that may become a popular topic for questions, or to a direct request for a specific guide. Once a need is identified, a librarian from the relevant subject department will determine the type of format (e.g. an annotated list of links to websites versus detailed guides that assist customers with a question or research procedure from beginning to end) before researching and writing the guide.

A web guide committee oversees the annual review of all existing guides to determine whether or not they should be maintained, redesigned, or removed from the site. Guides that are deemed relevant are submitted to the relative subject department to check for outdated content and broken links.

Commitee Review Guidelines

Content
Writers shouldn’t include too much of their own original analysis or commentary. Guides should provide the best resources, with as little bias as possible. Writers should also steer clear of lengthy narratives, and instead let the sites included on the guide provide the majority of the information. (If a writer is unsure whether he/she is writing too much commentary in the guide, we ask that he/she asks him/herself, “If I were writing a paper or article, would I have to cite this?” If the answer is yes, it shouldn't be in the guide.

Timeliness
Writers should focus on providing information of current interest to the public, whether it’s on a current event or about a topic that is regularly asked about.

Overall Guide Length
Writers should not aim to create comprehensive guides. They should be brief and highlight the best information on a topic. We ask for no more than 900 words, with 500 as our ideal.

Publication Duration
Unless a guide is of continuing interest, writers should assign an end date to specify when the guide should be removed from the site.

Websites
Selected websites should be appropriate—in both content and functionality—and authoritative.

Images
Guides should contain images, but no more than two or three. Writers should use relevant, high-quality source images, and should stay away from animated images, illustrations, or anything that looks too much like clip art.

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