Archive for August 26, 2008

User Forums, Events, Videos, And a Whole Lot More – The Springshare Lounge

We’re excited to unveil our new (and much improved) user forums/LibGuides users network/videos/calendar of events website – The Springshare Lounge at http://springsharelounge.com.

The Lounge is the next step in our community-building efforts – it is a true social network for our librarians to exchange ideas, questions, comments, suggestions, etc. Our old user forums had serious limitations, which is why they never took off – there was no way to export forums as rss feeds, get email notifications about the activity, etc. The new platform does all this and much more. For example, you can subscribe to RSS feeds to follow the latest activity and updates, RSS feeds for specific forum topics, LibGuides events updates, training videos, documents, email alerts about new posts, etc. The list of cool features is too long to mention here so head over to http://springsharelounge.com, register, and start using the site.

We will keep the old user forums website live until the end of the year, to help with the smooth transition to the new platform.

If you have any ideas/suggestions/questions about The Springshare Lounge, we’re all ears – as always!

LibGuides Integration with Twitter

We’ve achieved a lot of “firsts” in the Library software world in terms of web 2.0 stuff – LibGuides was one of the first commercial library software with a Facebook app (we now have three), among the first to integrate with Del.icio.us, etc.

Today I am pleased to announce another “first” and, perhaps, the coolest one yet – Twitter integration. Now when you publish a new guide you can broadcast the news on Twitter for all your faithful followers to see. Anybody subscribed to your Twitter updates will see the name of your newly published guide and the URL to access it. It’s a great way to advertise your guides to the Twitter universe (which is getting bigger by the minute)!

Pretty cool stuff, you must admit. We thought so too…

The “post to twitter” option is available on the change status screen, when you go to change the status of your guide to “published”.

I’d like to thank our tech team, especially the resident Twitter-expert Marc, for implementing another “first”web 2.0 integration in the commercial library software world, thereby solidifying the LibGuides’ position as the leading web 2.0 platform for libraries! 

Issues With Accessing New Servers

After our server upgrade went as smoothly as possible (zero downtime for patrons), we were alerted today that several (5, to be exact) of our clients were not able to access the new servers. After scratching our heads and looking at the problem from every possible angle (I’d like to thank our clients who worked with us on figuring it out), one of our genius techies (i.e. not me) said “it must be the bogon issue – their network administrators should check their bogon filters for the 174.*.*.* address. This network was only recently opened up by IANA. Bogon filters are filters designed to remove bogus IP addresses from being routed or spoofed. This is now a valid network and should not be filtered” (for more info, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogon_filtering)

And – sure enough – our new servers are on 174.* network and hence the reason why any network with obsolete bogon filter rules had problems accessing them. Even though this was not a LibGuides server issue (nor LibGuides problem in general) we are still bummed out that these 5 clients had their LibGuides access interrupted for part of the day, and we apologize for this – if we could have fixed it immediately we would, but this was out of our hands.

So, this should be a lesson to every network admin out there – keep those network rules and bogon filters up to date – because these obsolete filters not only prevent you from accessing LibGuides, but also from accessing many other (valid) sites who happen to be on this newly-approved 174.* network. The good news is that 98% of our client sites already had these bogon filters updated, but we want to help these 2% get on the train as well 🙂

If you are having problems accessing LibGuides, have your IT folks check the bogon filters for 174.* range – this is most likely the culprit.

Search Google Books within LibGuides

This is really cool! We utilized the Google Books API to create a new content box type called “Google Books Search Box”. This box enables visitors to search the Google Books service, and even read the full-text of books, where available. Check out the screenshot:

Besides enabling your users to search Google Books inside your guide, you can also define a “default search query” whose results will load when the user views the page initially. At the bottom of the box there is a always a link to get more results at the Google Books website.

We’re very excited about the Google Books box in LibGuides. It is yet another example of LibGuides’ deep integration with other web services. Your guides aggregate various content sources in one place, providing a very convenient and useful resource to your patrons. In addition to accessing many resources provided by your library, with the Google Books box your patrons can access the vast Google Books database, all within LibGuides. Pretty cool stuff. Try it out – your patrons will appreciate it!

Please let us know what you think, and how we can further improve LibGuides. Also, check out the other new box type we announced today – the Feedback box. Here’s the blog post about it.

New LibGuides Content Box Type – Feedback Box

We are excited to announce the availability of two new LibGuides content box types – the Feedback Box and the Google Books Search box (to be discussed in a separate blog post).

The Feedback box enables guide authors to “standardize” collection of feedback about their guides. The box is very simple to create – when adding a new box to your guide, simply select the “Feedback Box” from the list of available box types. This will create a box that looks something like this:

Size-wise, this is an ideal box for the side columns. Just like with every other box type, you can customize the intro text (e.g. the “Let us know what you think…” text in the screenshot above). You can not, however, customize the actual questions (3 questions) – we designed this box to be “short-and-sweet”, and standardized across all guides, because our experience and user testing shows that visitors are not as likely to provide feedback and suggestions if they have to fill out long forms. The shorter the form, the more chance people will respond. If you need to create elaborate feedback questions, you can always use our “Polls” box type to create custom polls.

The results of the user’s feedback are emailed to the guide owner (and to the page owner, if someone else other than the guide owner has created the page in question).

LibGuides Community Members on a Map

Marc has created a pretty cool Google Maps mashup which shows the locations of all our LibGuides member libraries. Check it out at http://community.libguides.com/community_map.php. You can zoom in and out, and clicking on any blue push pins will reveal the institution name as well as their LibGuides URL.  

The map is also available from the main Community Site (http://community.libguides.com) , by clicking on the “Member Map” link. We will be updating this map with every new client, so keep checking it regularly – until you can’t see the earth from all the blue pins 🙂

http://community.libguides.com/community_map.php

Monthly LibGuides Stats – July 2008

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

Community Sites: 305
Librarian Accounts: 5152
Total Guides: 12,145
Total Pages: 69,929