Implementation of SubjectsPlus at American University of Central Asia

In order to create and manage online guides for open educational resources, databases or other electronic resources the AUCA library has implemented SubjectsPlus (a FOSS tool) as a platform for subject guides.

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Case Study
Tsymbalov, Stanislav
December 2013


  1. SubjectsPlus serves as a platform for access to both commercial and open access e-resources. Thanks to SubjectsPlus all of the electronic resources available in the library (subscribed and free of charge databases) as well as open access e-resources (e.g. open educational resources) can be organized into subject areas, so that we can provide our patrons with easy access to a variety of e-resources in each area, including journals, books, e-texts, courses, videos, etc.
  2. Patrons can benefit from enhanced access (on-campus and off-campus) to resources both licensed and open access e-resources (also it might be both popular e-resources, and new e-resources) by subjects, courses or topics guides on the created SubjectsPlus website.
  3. Subject librarians can organize e-resources by subjects or topics as well as an organized A-Z list of databases. Besides, subject librarians can be visible to their users and can be more reachable to them.
  4. Subject librarians collaborate closely with faculty and departments of the University in the field of creation of the content for the guides and making sure that the guides contain the right information as well as facilitating and promoting of the online subject guides among the students and teachers.
  5. Training sessions on SubjectsPlus have been held in the library. As a result, the library staff have become proficient in a new technology. We have also held a training session for other libraries in our country


Guided search tools are used to help library patrons find the resources they are seeking. Originally paper-based subject guides were written by subject specialist librarians, but the world has moved on and technology can now assist this process. Subject guides can be as broad or as specific as the librarian wants to make them. They can help to ensure full utilisation of little-known works such as theses or dissertations. 

Directing library patrons to useful resources in the electronic age is a much more difficult task, due to the sheer range and breadth of resources available. Some libraries have designed authoring environments that suit their needs in this area and then released them as open source software. LibData and SubjectsPlus are two examples of open-source applications based on PHP and MySQL and need someone with expertise in these to configure and maintain them.

SubjectsPlus  is a free and open source tool (created at Ithaca College Library in the USA) that enables libraries to create and manage online research guides. Usually created by subject librarians (and therefore requiring no specialist technical skill), these guides can take many forms, with the software sufficiently flexible to allow many different ways of presenting the guides and enabling users to access them (for example, users may want to navigate by subject, by course, by database or by the type of information they seek).  

There is a SubjectsPlus wiki on which you can find documentation relating to the software, and also a SubjectsPlus Google Group for users to share information and ask questions. You can download the software here.