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What the new Moodle library tool can do for you

Student feedback sought on recommended-resources feature
January 23, 2014
By Tom Peacock


Thanks to the “Library Resources” block on Moodle, it’s the start of a brave new world for Concordia students.

Now you can access course reserve materials and recommended resources directly from each of your Moodle class pages.

The feature also includes a subject librarian’s email address, plus a search box with access to the complete Concordia catalogue: more than 1.9 million print and electronic books, 72,500 print and online journals, 129,000 government documents, 3,900 musical scores, and 62,000 sound recordings, films and videos.

“The goal is to bring library resources into Moodle to make it easier for students to get to the things they need,” says project leader Jared Wiercinski, a digital services and outreach librarian.

Malcolm MacPhail, head educational technologist at JMSB’s Centre for Instructional Technology and a development partner on the Moodle-Library Resources team, says the new tool answers a real need by making the university’s vast collection of research materials readily available to interested parties.

“I have spent a lot of time working with professors and librarians trying to do what this will hopefully achieve.”

The Library Resources block in Moodle has been in production for six months; it went online on December 9, 2013.

How does the “Library Resources” tool work?

As Wiercinski explains, the Library Resources block adapts to the course page it appears on.

“We worked with Instructional and Information Technology Services (IITS) to develop a system where we have access to the particular course that a student is logged into while they're on Moodle. We use that information to send them back what librarians deem to be the most relevant material for that course.”

Faculty members provide course-reserve listings, and librarians who specialize in specific subjects choose the recommended materials. Wiercinski points out, though, that input on what should be included is encouraged. “We don’t see this thing as frozen. We want to keep developing it. If a professor things that certain content should be appearing in the box for a specific course, we’ll do it.”

Students, staff and faculty are encouraged to provide feedback via a form on the Concordia Libraries website. The same page contains an FAQ about the new tool.

Wiercinski initially proposed the idea for the Library Resources block after learning about a similar tool that was developed by William Denton and Sarah Coysh, two librarians at York University.

“I was really impressed by it, so I took it and tried to make it happen here,” he says. “They were really helpful, and gave us some suggestions for the code.”

While the tool looks simple, Wiercinski says its development was anything but. In the end, though, the effort was worth it.

“It was technically challenging, but we’re very happy with the result. All the different parties — Concordia Libraries, IITS, JMSB and the Centre for Teaching and Learning Services — worked really well together.”

Learn more about the new Moodle “Library Resources” tool. Plus: check out these 8 ways to stay connected at Concordia.

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