Archive for October 22, 2008

Introducing the LibGuides Add-on Module

After many months of development, today we are announcing the availability of the LibGuides Add-on Module. This optional module extends the LibGuides functionality with 3 additional options:

Users can upload images (in any web-recognizable format, i.e. gif, jpg, png) from their computer into the LibGuides boxes via the Rich Text Editor, and the images will be stored on LibGuides servers. The initial storage limit is set to 2 GB per institution, i.e. approx 10,000 images using the average image sizes – more than enough for all practical purposes of using them in your guides. As storage costs decrease we will also increase the storage limits and pass on the savings to your. If you have a need for larger storage space please let us know. The image upload screen is inside the rich text editor, after clicking the “insert/edit image” icon.

The ability for admins to download, on a weekly basis, an XML file with all LibGuides content for your institution. Admins can then use these XML files locally to create data mashups, feed them to the institution’s search appliances, or … use them for any other purpose.  This function is available to LibGuides admins under the “Admin Toolkit” page:
 

Guide owners can create local backups of their guides, in html format, on their computers. We perform daily backups  of all our databases but many of our users would like to be able to have a save a copy of their guides on their own computer. Local backup can also come in handy if you accidentally delete a box or a page on your guide – you can quickly rebuild it using data from your local backup.  The backup option is found in the “Guide Options” menu, in the upper-right corner of the screen (in guide edit mode).

We are introducing this module as a “beta” until the end of this calendar year. This will give plenty of time (2+ months) to all our clients to try out the module functionality and decide whether this additional functionality is something they want/need in their system. There will be a minimal cost associated with using this module for those institutions that want it, given the increased storage and bandwidth requirements on our servers for users of the module.

Please let us know if you have any questions about this, and keep providing us with the excellent feedback and ideas.

Google Scholar Content Box & ‘Linked Pages’ Feature

Thanks to the continued (excellent) feedback from our clients, we are pleased to announce the availability of two new features in LibGuides:

1) Google Scholar Content Box. This content box enables users to search the Google Scholar database from LibGuides. The librarian can also create a “default query” for users of Google Scholar. The query will appear when the visitor loads the box. Since Google has not yet released the official API for Google Scholar we have to open search results in a new window for now, directly on Google site. As soon as Google releases the API we’ll be able to display the Scholar results inside the LibGuides content boxes.

 2) “Linked Pages” feature. Until now, a user could only make a plain copy of another page in the system to display on their guide. Let’s say I have a guide called “Research Basics” and, by using the “Copy Page From Another Guide” feature, I copy a page from Jane’s guide – her “Primary Sources” page. This makes an exact copy of her page inside my guide so that I can then change this “Primary Sources” page on my guide and tailor it to my needs.

With the new function we are introducing today, I can now also make a “linked copy” of Jane’s “Primary Sources” page, to show up on my guide. But, now if/when Jane changes the “Primary Sources” page on her guide, the changes will automatically show on my linked page as well. Pretty cool, huh?

As always, let us know what you think and keep the feedback coming…

User-Experience Webinar Series

Springshare and HowStuffWorks.com will be hosting a series of webinars focusing on User Experience.  The first of which;  Eye-popping Content, will be held this Thursday at 3pm EST.   We will determine and post the dates of the other sessions soon.  If you are interested in joining the webinar please e-mail sales@springshare.com and we will send you the web conferencing access information.  A brief description of each webinar is given below.  Each Webinar will be given by Kristiana Burk, Channel Director at HowStuffWorks.com. We look forward to having you join us!

User Experience Webinar 1 –  October 16 @ 3pm EST.  Eye-popping Content: Creating a User-friendly Framework
You’ve got it all – databases, articles, videos, books, recommended links. So how do you package it in a way that not only satisfies your users’ information needs but encourages browsing?  Learn practical techniques and ideas for building a user-friendly and contextual framework for the web while using the resources at your fingertips.

User Experience Webinar 2 – November 6 @ 3pm EST.  Organizing Content for Success: Taxonomies for the Everyday User
If you are a librarian, chances are you know what “cookery” stands for.  But will your user?  When organizing content for today’s Web generation, it’s important to build navigation schemas that are practical and user-friendly.  Learn simple – and fun – techniques for creating taxonomies for the everyday user.

User Experience Webinar 3 – November @ 3pm EST.  It’s all about the User: Practical Personas
If you build it they will come, right?  Wrong.  Learn how a few simple steps of planning and research before you build content or market your services to users can make a big difference.

User Experience Webinar 4 – November 20 @ 3pm EST.  Mix It Up: a Thematic Approach to Organizing Your Resources
Many information-seekers group their searches and queries in the form of topics, phrases and subject patterns.  Learn how to organize your content – drawing from the educational technique of thematic units and pathfinders – in a way that will better engage your users’ curiosity.

User Experience Webinar 5 – December 4 @ 3pm EST.  The Search Is On: Why Labels Matter
Does is really matter how you label that guide, module, link or article?  What about the tags you use? Learn how simple things like labels can make a difference in search to drive traffic and return visits.

User Experience Webinar 6 – January 8 @ 3pm EST.  Serving a New Generation: Exploring Web 2.0 and Beyond
Generation X,Y,Z – how they communicate, digest and share information on the web is unique.  Learn how to leverage tools like Twitter, FriendFeed, WIMZI, Facebook, Digg and more to reach this active community of users.

User Experience Webinar 7 – January 22 @ 3pm EST.  Taking it to the Next Level: Layered Content
You’ve pulled together your first set of subject guides using some of the core resources from your collection.  Learn how to use “layered content” like image galleries, top 10 lists, quizzes and more to drive page views while creating a more holistic view of a topic.

User Experience Webinar 8 – January 15 @ 3pm EST.  The Information Amusement Park: Make Learning Fun
Discovering information doesn’t have to be boring. Learn how to incorporate different types of marketing and browsing techniques, editorial calendars, scavenger hunts, polls, and more to encourage page views and return visitors.

Kristiana Burk holds an ALA-accredited MLS degree with a minor in Corporate Knowledge Management & Information Architecture from the University of Kentucky and a Bachelors degree in Education. She has 10 years experience in the information technology space including roles in product management, information architecture, and user experience design and consulting. Kristiana has overseen the direction and design for a variety of portal, search, and content products and currently works with HowStuffWorks.com as Channel Director.  She has also managed Content and Creative Teams in the development and management of content and web-based products that support a variety of public interfaces. Kristiana’s passion is creating and improving user-centered products whether that is for a corporation, everyday users, librarians or K-12 students.

Poster Slot Available for LITA Forum Next Week

Jenny from UC San Diego posted the following message at the Springshare Lounge:

“This is kind of a shot in the dark, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.  If there’s anyone on this board from an institution that will have someone attending the LITA Forum next week in Cincinnati, a spot has opened up in the poster presentation session. We are trying to fill that spot and the planning committee is particularly interested in hearing from a site using LibGuides. If your organization is sending someone to LITA and would be interested, please contact Dale Poulter, chair of the Forum Planning committee ASAP. He can be reached at dale.poulter@Vanderbilt.Edu

If you are interested in presenting your library’s experience with LibGuides, please contact Dale and/or respond to Jenny’s post at the Lounge.  Thanks!

Monthly LibGuides Stats – September 2008

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

Community Sites: 362
Librarian Accounts: 6218
Total Guides: 17,101
Total Pages: 112,669
Unique Visitors: 246,513

An important milestone was reached in the month of September – as a community, our members have now published over 100,000 pages of content within LibGuides!  Lucky page #100,000 can be found on Jeremy Cusker’s Operations Research and Information Engineering guide in the Cornell University LibGuides system.

I should also mention that the number of unique visitors to LibGuides more than tripled from August to September, and our total page views peaked at over 8 million for the month!  Its safe to say that school is definitely back in session, and the popularity of LibGuides is really taking off!