Archive for May 22, 2008

LibGuides – 200th Member Site!

Northfield Mount Hermon School joined LibGuides this morning, bringing our total site count to 200!  Our membership has just about doubled since January, and we have quite a few more groups that will be joining the community in the next few months.

Thanks to everyone for making the first half of 2008 a very successful one for Springshare and our LibGuides community members!

Twitter in LibGuides Profiles

For those of you who use (popular micro-blogging platform) Twitter, we are happy to announce that you can now link to your feed right in your LibGuides profile.  All you need to do is add your Twitter username to your LibGuides profile, and we will automatically add an icon and link to your profile pages.

 Twitter Icon in Profile

If you are already using Twitter, you can follow us at http://twitter.com/springshare, and be the first to know about new features we are working on, when updates are being released, what we had for lunch, etc.  We also plan to solicit feedback from our community members via Twitter, and use the site as a way to promote discussion between our members.

So if you are not currently using Twitter, or “just don’t get it”, now you have a reason to give it (another) try.  I would recommend starting out with the excellent “Twitter in Plain English” video from Common Craft, and then jump directly to Twitter and create your account!

Homepage Customization – Tag Cloud Box

Our Libraries have been asking us for more flexibility in arranging boxes on the homepage, and today we made a first step in this direction by releasing the Tag Cloud box homepage customization option. Now you can choose to display the Tag Cloud box at the top of middle column on the homepage (default option), or below the Featured/Popular Guides box, or you can decide to hide the Tag Cloud box altogether.

 This feature is available for sys admins, under the System Settings tab -> Customize Homepage

Tag Cloud Box Customization option

Third Column (Profile Column) Content Boxes in LibGuides

It is now possible to add content boxes in the profile column on your guides. This gives you more flexibility in  organizing your guide content. Note that the content boxes will appear below the profile box – the profile box is always at the top of the right column, unless the profile is hidden in which case the content boxes will appear on top. You can also move content boxes between the profile column and other two columns.

The third column content boxes capability is a welcome addition to LibGuides-as-a-website applications because it gives libraries the ability to fill the space below profile boxes with more useful content.

“Remote Script” LibGuides Content Box

This is big! And exciting! We have added a new content box type, “Remote Script”, which enables those techies amongst you to embed external content right inside LibGuides boxes, in the same way that LibGuides displays rss feeds, for example. This means you can now write scripts (on your own server, in any programming language) to display any type of data, from any system, right inside the LibGuides box, without using iFrames or any other tricks. The content you display using your script will look just like any other LibGuides content. Pretty cool, huh? We thought so, too.

Remote Scripts Content Box

Best of all, since this “remote script” content box is just another box type in LibGuides, you can link to it, or copy it on any number of guides. For example, you can write a script that will pull the list of top databases from your library system, place that script inside the remote script content box and then link to that box on any other guide you (or others) create. Create-once-use-anywhere type of thing.

There are a few things to keep in mind when writing your scripts (these are also mentioned in the help screen when adding the remote script inside the content box):

  1. Your content will be wrapped inside a div in the content box so make sure you properly close your divs. If you leave any divs open that could interfere with the rest of the boxes on the page.
  2. You do not need to have <body>, <head>, and similar tags in your script – just output the content you want displayed inside the box.
  3. Use absolute paths for any images and links inside your script. In other words, use href=yourdomain/yourpage.html instead of href=yourpage.html (the same is true for src= attributes).

We are very excited about this new addition to our content box options because it opens some pretty cool possibilities for mixing and matching outside content with the content in LibGuides, thus making LibGuides a true “one-stop-shop” so to speak, a place where your users can come and get information from many different sources/places (and ask you questions via your profile box if they are still confused).

“Guide Index” Tab for LibGuides users

A few LibGuides librarians (especially sys-admins) have asked us how they can see the list of all private / unpublished / published guides in the system. This information was available but it was in different places and not easily found, so we created a tab called “Guide Index”, which lists all guides in your system, filtered by the publication status. This tab is available from any admin page, including the main administrative page in LibGuides.

Guide index

New Options for Moderating Comments in LibGuides

We have added a few new options in LibGuides for dealing with comments. As local LibGuides sites become more popular and replace Google and Wikipedia as *the* sources of reliable information (just kiddin’, but hey – nobody knows information better than librarians, so why not?) the issues with comment spam may become a problem so we have built in a few safeguards for LibGuides administrators to deal with this.

There are now 3 modes of Comments operation in LibGuides (these are available to System Administrators under System Settings -> System-wide customization):

1) Enabled comments means the visitors can post comments without the approval of the page owner (this is how comments worked so far). The page owner will get an email with the text of the comment, so they can log on and delete the comment if they deem it inappropriate. This option is set by default, with every new LibGuides system.

2) Moderated comments. When a visitor writes a comment, it is hidden until the page owner (or an editor, or an admin) manually approves the comment. The page owner still gets an email notification that a visitor wrote a comment, and they can also see the list of comments waiting to be approved when they log on to their guide. If there are any page (or box) comments the Comments link will look like this (with the number of comments waiting to be approved in red):

3) Lastly, the system administrator can disable all page and box comments system-wide. The previous comments that were posted are not deleted – they are just hidden, so if you re-enable the comments system-wide those comments will show up again.

Improved Guide Layout

Based on user feedback we have made a few changes to the guide layout. The result is a cleaner and more standardized interface for visitors who are looking at your LibGuides.

New Guide Layout

1) We have added “breadcrumbs” in the upper left corner, just below the banner. Here, visitors will find links back to the LibGuides homepage, and back to your institution’s homepage.

2) The search box is now centered on the page, in the shaded stripe below the tabs, making it more visible.

3) We have added a really cool widget from Addthis.com enabling visitors to share the link to your guides with others. They can bookmark the guide, email it to someone, or add it to a whole bunch of social networking sites. It’s a pretty cool widget and it adds a neat functionality to your guides. This is how the widget looks when the user hovers over the “Share” button
Addthis.com's share button

New LibGuides Release with Important New Features

We are very pleased to announce the release of several important new features in LibGuides. As a true web application, LibGuides is a “work in progress” and we are adding new functionality to the system all the time, based on the feedback and requests from our user community. This is, among other things, one of the perks our institutions get for the annual license – they are always assured the latest and greatest in features and technology in their LibGuides system.

 

The features we are announcing today are rather significant so we will have separate blog posts explaining each new feature. Here is a short overview:

  1. Improved guide layout, based on feedback from students and librarians. The links to the institution’s homepage and to LibGuides home are now in the upper left corner, just below the banner, in a “breadcrumb” style. The search box has been moved to the center of the page, making it more prominent and easier to notice. Finally, we have added Addthis.com’s “share” widget to the right of the search box, which enables users to easily bookmark/email any guide or post it to digg/facebook/del.icio.us and a number of other sites.
  2. New System-wide options for comments moderation. There are now three modes for moderating comments in LibGuides. These are available to LibGuides Administrators via the system-wide customization options screen (for admins, go to  System Settings -> System-wide customization).
     
    a) Enabled – the same as current mode, i.e. users can post comments directly and the page owner gets an email when a new comment is posted;
    b) Moderated – when a user posts a comment, the page owner (or an editor, or an admin) has to approve the comment before it is posted on the page;
    c) Disabled – comments are disabled system-wide.
  3. Guide Index – easily accessible list of all private/unpublished/published guides available from the admin screen. When you log on to the main admin functions you will notice a new “Guide Index” tab – click on it to see the list of all guides in the system, filtered by their publication status.
  4. New “Remote Scripts” box type. This box type enables you to run remote scripts and have the output of your remote script displayed inside the box. Yes, you heard right! We are very excited about this new box type as it opens a new world of possibilities for displaying all types of external content inside LibGuides content boxes.  Librries techies rejoice – now you can mix and match content in LibGuides and have your guides become a true portals for users to find information from many sources, including your own library systems.
  5. 3rd (profile) column content boxes. Now you can add content boxes below the profile box (or in place of the profile box if it is hidden). This gives additional flexibility and more screen space for your content. It is especially useful for LibGuides-as-a-website systems.

Please look for our upcoming blog posts for the in-depth explanations of these features. As always, I’d like to thank our user community and our clients for the great feedback and suggestions which resulted in this new release and, last but not least, thanks to our tech guys who made it all happen.

UPDATE: Here are the links to the individual, in-depth, posts: Improved Guide Layout, New Options for Moderating Comments in LibGuides, “Guide Index” Tab for LibGuides users, “Remote Script” LibGuides Content Box, and Third Column (Profile Column) Content Boxes in LibGuides

Monthly LibGuides Stats – April 2008

Here are the most recent cummulative stats for the LibGuides community.

Community Sites: 183
Librarian Accounts: 3001
Total Guides: 6565
Total Pages: 34,747
Number of Visits 177,824
Monthly Page Views: 2,660,335