Setting up LibGuides for the first time

We know - getting a new system is both really exciting and fairly daunting all at the same time. You have this shiny new system...with nothing in it. What do you do with this totally empty system?? Let's walk through the things you ought to learn & discuss before you start setting up your system and then help you set everything up!

Who is this Springboard for?

While it's initially sent to the first Admin level user created in the system, that doesn't mean only that person should take a look! (Unless you're a solo librarian...then it just makes sense, of course! ;) ) This guide is for anyone who is helping to initially set up the system. Others may or may not be Admin level users in the system, but they can still understand the options and help discuss / form the plan for how you'll use the system, so feel free to share the information!

Featured training sessions

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Join our Springy Training Team for the Planning your LibGuides Site workshop, offered regularly. This session is for folks just getting started with a brand new LibGuides site -- or attempting a total overhaul. We’ll discuss what you need to know before you start adding content to your LibGuides site and how to plan your site for future growth.

Visit the Springy training calendar to register for the next available session! While you're there, also check out our LibGuides Admin: Setting up your system look & feel and Building a LibGuide sessions, as well!

Or, if you're unable to make it to a live training session, check out the recordings of our training sessions on Admin and System Settings anytime in our training video collection.

Step 1. Configure your system settings

Before you start adding user accounts for your colleagues, it can be helpful to get your system settings configured first. This will make sure that all of the settings are the way you want before users start adding content to the system.

The System Settings page

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Step 2. Add user accounts

This is where you can start giving your colleagues access to LibGuides. When you add an account, be sure to select the appropriate level of permissions for that user, based upon how you need them to use the system. For example, if you will have other folks helping you manage the system, you'll want to make sure they have admin-level access.

Also, be sure to set up the appropriate additional permissions for your regular-level users. Remember that with LibGuides CMS, you can give your regular users admin-level access to various parts of your site (like managing assets, editing all guides, and more).

Once you've given everyone access, encourage them to explore the system hands-on and start creating content. Don't forget to share our documentation, videos, and training calendar, too, in case they need any help!

Adding a new account to LibGuides

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Step 3. Set up groups (LibGuides CMS only)

When setting up your groups (in LibGuides CMS), you have the opportunity to customize the appearance of each group. You can add as many groups as you'd like. Each group has its own homepage, look & feel options, guide templates, and language options allowing you to give them a completely customized web presence.

Also be sure to set up the appropriate user access for each group. System admins have full access to each group, but you will need to specify which regular users will be able to add and edit guides in the group.

Adding and managing groups in LibGuides CMS

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Step 4. Customize the site's look and feel

You can customize almost every aspect of the appearance of your LibGuides public pages. If you're looking to customize the styles of your pages, you can add a banner image, custom HTML header & footer, and/or custom JavaScript & CSS code. This can be as simple or sophisticated as you'd like.

Regardless of how much you want to customize the style of your site, we recommend spending some time customizing your homepage. It will be the first thing users see when they visit your site, so it's a good idea to make sure that the most relevant content is front and center.

Customizing your site's look and feel

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Step 5. Setup and customize templates

Along with customizing the look and feel of your site and guides with custom CSS (and general changes within the Look & Feel options), you can fine tune the look and layout of all of your public pages. You can create custom templates for your guides -- choosing between tabbed and side navigation layouts, homepage, A-Z database list, subject pages, profile pages, and search results.

Template choices for your guides allow you to ensure consistency between your guides, and admins can also force users to use one particular template when creating guides, so no one can stray from that template.

Customizing your site's templates

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Step 6. Set up your subject categories

Subject categories allow you to organize your guides, databases, blog posts, and e-reserves courses. This can make it much easier for your patrons to find content in LibGuides related to a particular subject area. You can even assign specific users as experts in a particular subject, letting patrons know who they can contact if they need research help.

You may also want to assign a friendly URL to each subject to help your patrons more easily find all of the materials related to a subject on the subject homepage that is automatically created for each.

After you've set up your subject categories, you can assign guides, experts and e-reserves courses directly from the edit screen. And you can assign them to your databases when setting up and editing those assets.

Adding and managing subject categories

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Step 7. Set up your A-Z List

The LibGuides A-Z Database List provides a powerful interface for your patrons to browse, sort, search, and share your library's research databases. Behind the scenes, it also gives you a bunch of helpful tools to make managing your databases easier than ever before.

The first step in setting up your A-Z list involves creating a list of database types and vendors to help you to organize and filter your databases, customizing the layout of the A-Z Database List page, and configuring the permitted use options for your databases.

With the list set up, the next (and most important step) is adding new database assets. You can add new databases individual or import databases from a spreadsheet or Serials Solutions/Intota. When creating new database assets you will be able to assign subjects, types, vendors, icons, keywords, a friendly URL, and more. All of which will help you and your patrons to more effectively navigate and find relevant databases.

Managing the AZ list

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Step 8. Create your guides

The beginning of the guide creation process is where you can turn things over to your colleagues. Most of the initial set up work is behind you, so now you can focus on the content creation process. While there is more to consider when creating guides than can be covered here, some things to consider when you start building guides are:

  • Create focused guides. Narrow the focus of your guides as much as you can.
  • Reuse content. You can reuse guides from your system (or from the LibGuides Community), and you can reuse pages, boxes and individual content items across all of your guides. Make sure that your content creators are reusing materials whenever they can so that you don't have to keep reinventing the wheel.
  • Organize your guides. Take advantage of the guide type options, your subject categories, and LibGuides CMS groups to organize your guides in a way that makes sense to you and your patrons.
  • Develop best practices for building guides. Make life easier for your admins and your guide creators by takings advantage of the built-in LibGuides functions, a set of best practices for how your guides should be laid out (what pages and templates should be used), what content should appear on each guide, and more.
  • Accessibility. Make sure that you're taking accessibility standards into the content creation process.

LibGuides CMS sites should also consider implementing the Publishing Workflow to help establish and maintain more consistency in the tone and content of your guides.

Learn more

Step 9. Set up your blogs and discussion boards

With your system configured and your guides (at least your core guides) in place, you may want to consider taking advantage of LibGuides blogs and discussion boards (CMS only) to take your guides, and the whole site, to another level. Every guide can have its own blog and board that are tied directly to that guide just like a normal guide page. Each guide also has its own internal discussion board where you can have conversations with your fellow guide editors about topics related to the management of that guide.

You also have one system blog, a public-side discussion board, and an internal system discussion board at your disposal. These can be wonderful resources for communicating with your patrons through posts about upcoming library events or featured resources, and encouraging communication amongst your patrons with discussion board threads on all-things-library-related.

Once you have some posts ready to go, you can share them through your social media channels and embed full blogs on other pages with widgets.

Learn more about blogs

Learn more about discussion boards

Step 10. Customize your site's domain name & HTTPS settings

Out of the box, each new LibGuides site has its own unique domain name. If you're happy with that domain name, great! However, if you're interested in customizing your domain name so it fits in with the rest of your institution's web sites, you can work with your IT staff and LibApps admin(s) to change it. (Note: a user who has admin access to LibGuides may not necessarily have admin access to your LibApps settings. Check your LibApps dashboard for a list of your system's Admin users.)

For example, let's say your library's website is and your LibGuides website is If you'd like your LibGuides site to also end with, you could change it to something like

Whether or not you decide to customize your domain name, we recommended that you configure your site to always load over HTTPS. This will ensure that your patrons are always accessing your site over a secure, encrypted connection.

  • If your site uses a domain name, you can begin viewing your site over HTTPS right away. Your LibApps admin can configure your site to always load over HTTPS (strongly recommended).
  • If your site uses a custom domain name, then you first need to work with your IT staff to update your DNS. We will then automatically install a free Let's Encrypt SSL certificate for your site, at which point your domain name change will take effect. Your LibApps admin can then configure your site to always load over HTTPS (strongly recommended).

The LibApps Domains and Certificates page

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Setup Checklist

Before you go, consider reviewing the following checklist to make sure you have everything set up and ready for action. If you missed something, no worries! Check out the sections above for help tying up any loose ends.

System settings and accounts

  • Have you configured your system settings, such as your access rules and proxy URL?
  • Does everyone who needs a user account have one?
  • Did you want to customize your site's domain name?
  • Is your site set to always load over a secure, encrypted HTTPS connection?


  • Have you created any groups that you may need?
  • Has each user been given access to the group(s) they need?
  • Have you customized the look and feel of the groups as needed?

Look & feel

  • Have you customized the basic look & feel for your system the way you want, such as your banner image, header, and footer?
  • Did you add any custom code to your site that was needed?
  • Did you create and configure the custom templates for your guides and public pages?
  • Is your LibGuides homepage set up in the way that you want?


  • Have you created all of the guides that you need/want initially?
  • Have your guides been set to the proper publication status?
  • Are they assigned to the correct subject categories and groups?

A-Z Database list

  • Is your database list set up with the correct vendors and types?
  • Have you added all of your databases to your A-Z list?
  • Do the links that require authentication have the proxy setting enabled?

Odds & ends

  • Are you subject categories set up? And have you assigned subject experts, databases, guides, etc. to them?
  • Have you added any content to your blogs and discussion boards?
  • Have you assigned friendly URLs to your guides, subjects, groups, etc.?

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