Integrating LibGuides into Canvas

By Mary Weppler-Van Diver, San Joaquin Delta College

As a LibGuide enthusiast and librarian serving instructors using the Canvas learning management system, I had been searching for an effective way to incorporate LibGuides into Canvas’s online classroom.Specifically, I wondered if there was a way to insert a virtual library presence into Canvas’s digital architecture, and to do so in a way that would be easily accessible to online students.   For those of us who use LibGuides regularly to curate and present information literacy tools and library resources, we know that the LibGuides platform is a powerful tool.  It’s easy to update, and offers lots of dynamic features (see Figure 1).

Sample LibGuide Tutorial
Figure 1. Embedded Art History LibGuide using LTI in Canvas.

Example of library resources listed in Canvas Navigation pane
Figure 2. Canvas
Navigation Pane

As our college’s online course offerings continue to grow, the idea of making LibGuides available within Canvas seemed like win-win for both the library and our robust distance education program. With a little research, I found that a process was available for achieving this union, and that the end result would allow library resources to be prominently displayed within the navigation pane of the Canvas course (see Figure 2).

So how did we do it?  In summary it required some essential coordination with our Canvas administrator and Distance Education coordinator, Jennifer Azzaro. I collaborated with Jennifer to set up an LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) between Canvas and LibGuides. It really only took one week to coordinate the technical side of things with Jennifer.  After doing so, we were able to provide instructors with step-by-step instructions for adding our default LibGuide (shown in Figure 3) to their Canvas shell. This default guide features the Library’s most popular services and resources, including our library catalogs, databases, reserves collection, and virtual reference.

The more difficult, but not insurmountable, part of the project proved to be matching specific LibGuides to specific Canvas courses. This more granular task required about a week of trial-and-error testing. Eventually, with the participation of Jennifer and a few very patient instructors, we figured out how to correspond a specific guide to a specific online course by customizing the metadata within each LibGuide.

Instructions for adding default LibGuide
Figure 3. Our Library’s Default LibGuide for Canvas

Technical Stuff

What Canvas Needs

Before Jennifer could configure Canvas to accept LibGuides, she needed specific information available within our LibGuides platform.

LTI Tool Builder
Figure 4. LTI Tool Builder in LibGuides

She needed the LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) configuration key, consumer key, and shared key. Once I retrieved this information, which is available to any LibApps admin by going to the LTI Tool Builder (see Figure 4), Jennifer could then begin the Canvas configuration on her end.

What the LibGuide Administrator Needs

Configuration on the LibGuide administrator’s side happens in the LTI Tool Builder (see Figure 5.).  This is where you find the LTI key information listed above, and this is also where you do basic configuration like choosing your default LibGuide that auto-generates whenever instructors decide to add library resources to their Canvas shell.  For more information on this part of configuration, see Springshare’s Support & Training:


Linking Specific Guides to Specific Courses

Guide Metadata
Figure 5. Guide Metadata,
located in each LibGuide

In order to match a specific LibGuide to a specific Canvas Course, you do the following:

  • Access the LibGuide
  • Log in
  • In the top right hand corner of the guide, click into Guide Metadata (see Figure 5.)
  • Click into the Custom Metadata tab
  • Add the designated LTI tool name (ours is lti)
  • Add the prefix to the Canvas course
  • Make the metadata public

With the help of your Canvas administrator and your LibGuides administrator, you too can add a virtual library presence to your Distance Education program’s Canvas platform!