LibGuides is not free, but it looks like it could be worth buying.
Check out the LibGuides Community page where you can browse for academic, public, and school libraries and see how they have used the product.
For example, see the library guides created by:
- Elizabeth Abarbanel and Karen Phillips at the Brentwood School (USA);
- Buffy Hamilton at Creekview High School (USA);
- The Burlington County (public) Library (USA).
Netvibes is the next best option -- and it's free. This is what I've been playing with for the past few weeks, inspired by these librarians:
- Shanghai Rego International School -- Primary Library -- by Fiona Collins
- Discovery College Library -- Dianne MacKenzie in Hong Kong
- My Bloomin' Web -- by Leanne Windsor at the Tokyo International School [URL updated 27/4/09]
- St. Dominic's International School Junior Library -- by Yvonne Barrett in Portugal
- Campus des Nations Primary Library -- by Kathy Epps at the International School of Geneva
- Campus des Nations PYP Programme of Inquiry --also by Kathy Epps at the International School of Geneva
For example, I just copied over links to kids' magazines from Fiona, links on books and reading from Leanne, more book and reading links from Yvonne, links to audio book sites from Dianne, and dictionary websites from Kathy.
I like how Kathy has made a separate page for the PYP units of inquiry -- and I'll be doing that as well, but for now here's my initial effort:
Pageflakes is a similar tool that I have experimented with before, but then I recently read a blog posting which suggested Pageflakes might die (from lack of funding). So I immediately began exploring Netvibes and was thrilled to find so many good library examples out there to copy. But then just the other day there was an ominous blog posting about Netvibes! Well, I'm not giving up on Netvibes yet. But as a form of insurance I've also just requested a proper LibGuides demo (and formal quote). By the way, this is the official comment on costs:
The cost of an annual license depends on the size of your institution and the number of libraries involved. We try to customize the pricing for every client, to meet their specific needs (as well to fit within their budgets!). The annual license fee ranges from $899 to $2,999 ($549 for K-12 libraries). Most libraries would fall under the lower license range. Contact us with the info about your institution (FTE or # of card holders) and we'll give you an exact quote. Chances are, you'll be pleasantly surprised - LibGuides is a great deal, any way you look at it!I haven't mentioned iGoogle personalized pages, though they're quite similar. You can also share widgets and tabs with other people, but they're designed more for personal homepages -- where someone is logged into their Google account. So if your students all have iGoogle pages, then you could publicize library-specific widgets for them to add to their homepages. And if you want to explore other options, see this list of "start page" tools via Delicious.
Speaking of library websites, there are two I've admired recently for their clean "Mac" look and layout, though only Leanne's was made on a Mac. The other was created using a free tool called Weebly.