Related product I-Share

Creating User Guides for Primo VE

This resource is for librarians working at institutions making the transition to Primo VE, and it is meant to provide guidance for those creating user guides and tutorials to help patrons adjust to the new system.

CARLI institutions have a great deal in common, and we share more than just resources and materials. But our individual institutions have distinctive identities and patron needs, and each must craft resources designed for its unique users. Those distinctive identities will also be reflected in each library's customized instance of Primo VE. Therefore, this is more of a menu than a manual, offering suggestions rather than prescriptions, and presenting insights into the content and concepts that librarians may want to address in guides, as well as advice on the form and format for these resources informed by an examination of the materials generated by libraries already using Primo VE.

A further reason for us to offer a menu rather than manual is the fact that Primo VE, unlike Voyager, will receive updates on a monthly basis. In some cases this will lead to changes to user guides.

This page was created by members of the Instruction and Public Services Committees.

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  • Who are your different user groups? What are their needs?
  • How different from your previous system is Primo VE?
  • What specific functionalities were most asked about with Voyager? Are those functionalities present in your instance of Primo VE?
  • What aspects of Primo VE might be hardest for patrons to learn? What part might new jargon/terminology play in those difficulties?
  • Performing basic searches
  • Performing advanced searches
  • Filtering results
  • How to find items (Location)
  • Signing-in / Using "My Library Card"
  • "My Library Card" / account (You may want to provide a glossary.)
  • What is a discovery layer? (Possibly include: Searching many sources of different information at once.)
  • What is being searched? (May be useful to include a Venn diagram.)
  • How to request materials from home library or I-Share
  • How to request and check status of interlibrary loans
  • Articles and more (from different vendors such as Proquest, EBSCO)
  • How to find materials on course reserves
  • Personalizing search results in Primo VE
  • Fetching specific items in Primo VE
  • Creating an RSS feed in Primo VE
  • Saving and managing alerts in Primo VE
  • Saving and managing records in Primo VE
  • Saving and managing search queries in Primo VE
  • Exporting records from Primo VE
  • Tagging search results in Primo VE
  • Using citation trails
  • Using "My Favorites" in Primo VE
  • Each format of user guide comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. Consider these carefully when deciding the format of user guides, and think about using a mixture of formats.
  • Consider also the frequent updates to Primo VE and the changes to user guides and tutorials that these updates may necessitate. Ask yourself: which method(s) of creating user guides will be most sustainable for you and your staff?
  • LibGuides & Web Guides
    • This will be the default option for many libraries, since these user guides are easy to create and amend—an important factor to consider, since monthly updates to Alma & Primo VE could require frequent revisions to keep information current.
    • These can be as simple as plain text and still images.
    • User guides also allow for shared creation and editing.
  • Video Tutorials
    • These can be incredibly useful, since animations, screencasts, and other types of tutorials are used to clearly demonstrate how to carry out tasks in Primo VE; however, the monthly updates mean that video tutorials may quickly become obsolete.
    • Be prepared to revise and refresh tutorials more often.
    • Consider creating tutorials in small discrete "chunks," to make it easier to remove or replace individual slides or screen grabs.
  • Pages within Primo VE
    • Consider who will have training for/access to Alma to update pages within Primo VE.
    • Changing a landing page could change the look of Primo VE considerably, so consider how often/how much you want to make modifications.
  • Tutorials may call for graphics in order to clarify a concept (conceptual graphics) or demonstrate a process (procedural graphics).
  • Conceptual graphics convey a concept visually
    • The most effective graphics are simple. It's better to convey the gist of something rather than overwhelm with details.
    • If you need to include a significant amount of text, consider doing so in plain text outside the graphic. This is easier to read at different screen sizes and easier to update if information changes.
    • A mock-up of a good conceptual graphic, with simple shapes and minimal text inside the graphic itself:

Graphic is a Venn diagram to convey conceptually the idea of the content of a search. WorldCat is the largest circle; within that are interconnecting circles of the Catalog and Easy Search. Easy Search contains circles that represent Reserves and Curriculum Materials.
Graphic is courtesy of Christina Norton based upon an image originally created by SUNY Geneseo.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  • Procedural graphics show with step-by-step instructions how to achieve a specific task, usually through the use of screenshots.
    • An effective screenshot is one that has an appropriate amount of visual information.
      • Show as much of the screen as needed to provide context.
      • If they don't need to see the whole screen, don't show the whole screen.
    • When annotating screenshots (for example: with arrows or circles) make sure the annotations have contrast.
      • Consider both contrast of color (e.g. blue on white) and value (e.g. dark on light). This is good for those with low vision, limited color vision, or those using a small screen.
    • If an interface or process changes, you will need to update the screenshots as well. Keep track of which tutorials you have screenshots in to make it easier to keep up.
    • This page features many good examples of screenshots from the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

Consider where your users will look for help when determining where you locate information.

  • In a collection of guides
  • On the library's webpage
  • Within Primo VE itself:
    • Main landing page
    • Other landing pages, such as Browse search, Course reserves and Journal search