Pathfinders are great tools to help navigate the user through the vast sea of information available through the internet. They allow the user to organically explore, research, and learn about a specific topic. The form of a pathfinder can vary based on the tool used to create the pathfinder and the user’s need.

Pathfinders can take many shapes including:

  1. Lists of resources
  2. Wikis
  3. Websites
  4. Blogs

An ideal pathfinder will include a variety of resources such as video, audio, online databases, book suggestions, articles, and embedded forms. Providing a variety of resources in a pathfinder will create a more dynamic learning experience for the user that guides them in the research process.

My Pathfinder:

I chose to use the online tool, LiveBinder, when creating my pathfinder. I chose this tool for a number of reasons including its ability to embed webpages and videos. I also like that LiveBinders is a free website/lesson builder that does not require the user to know coding language. After reading the short tutorial instructions (also available as a video), I felt well equipped to create my own LiveBinder.

When creating my pathfinder, I spent a lot of time thinking about what my public library patrons would want or need. Specifically, I thought about what kinds of resources our youth ask for during the autumn.

One popular topic in October and November is Native American history. Our students flock to the the library looking for books about various Native American tribes/famous people. Unfortunately, I work at a smaller library location meaning that our Native American book collection is limited. Often times, to the disappointment of our patrons, we will run out of books on Native Americans. For this reason, I thought that creating a pathfinder for Native American History month would be useful.

The Native American History month pathfinder that I created has an audience focus on elementary and middle school students. While this is a wide age range, I feel that I will be able to reach more public library patrons if I use only one pathfinder. I also considered the fact that many of the Chicago Public Schools are K — 8 further reinforcing the practicality of one pathfinder.

Check out my pathfinder below!

When creating this pathfinder, I tried to keep each separate webpage unique and engaging by incorporating introductory videos about Native American history, embedding web content, including helpful summaries of resources, briefly explaining the resource process to students, and leaving a space for students to ask questions.

I felt that it was important to briefly explain how to find books using the Chicago Public Library website. To do this, I embedded the CPL website already populated with a Native American subject term search. I then explained the option to filter results and check if a desired item is available. In addition, I explained the difference between fiction and non-fiction books. I often encounter students who ask for “chapter books” when, in reality, they mean informational texts written at their age level. They are often confused by the terms of fiction and non-fiction, so I felt that it was important to explain this difference to them.

I also wanted to highlight the databases available through CPL. To do this, I embedded two database pages already populated with Native American resources and briefly explained what each database contained. I also gave suggestions for how to use the database. Lastly, I explained (in red font) that patrons would need their library card in order to access these databases.

The other elements of my pathfinder included a “history” section populated with videos explaining the true history of Christopher Columbus and the Trail of Tears. These videos were in a cartoon format that I feel would appeal to both elementary and middle school students. I also included an “arts and crafts” section where I embedded a Pinterest board populated with museum collections and exhibits focusing on Native American art. I though that this would be a good visual way to encourage students to explore the different kinds of art created by Native Americans. Lastly, I included a page where students could ask me (the librarian) questions. To do this, I embedded a Padlet and posted the first question and answer as an example.

This pathfinder currently has 7 tabs and there are lots of possibilities to grow the pathfinder in the future. I’d really like to add a Tribe/First Nations tab that provides web resources for students to explore specific Native American peoples. Other content that I would like to include include major wars/battles, famous contemporary Native Americans, and current Native American topics/issues.

I’ll definitely be adding to this pathfinder in the future!