Archive for LibAnswers

LibAnswers 2.20 Coming Soon

The LibAnswers 2.20 release is on its way, and will be live in all regions by end of the day on Thursday May 24th. We have several great features to share, including GDPR privacy updates and an exciting announcement about upcoming changes to the Chat Operator screen!

GDPR & Privacy Related Updates

We’ve worked on a number of issues to help get LibAnswers ready for the impending GDPR changes. In case you missed it, check out our full GDPR post. Here are the tools we’re rolling out in this update:

Public Cookie Notice and Privacy Statement – We’re adding an optional, dismissible notice to alert users about the use of cookies and IP address collection on LibAnswers public pages. To turn on this notice and customize its text, admins can head to Admin > System Settings > Privacy Settings.

Data Submission Notices – We’re also adding an optional data submission notification, to help you alert your patrons to what personal information you collect in order to submit a question or idea to LibAnswers. This gives you an opportunity to let your patrons know why you collect particular data in forms, what that data is used for, etc. To turn on this notice and customize its text, admins can head to Admin > System Settings > Privacy Settings.

Expanded Privacy Scrub – We’re expanding our current privacy scrub options so that now, in addition to scrubbing patron name and email address, you can also choose to scrub all possible identifying information from both ticket interactions and/or LibChat transcripts on a rolling basis.

This new privacy scrub option will remove the entire contents of a ticket conversation and/or chat transcript – all of the messages that were exchanged between librarian and patron will be removed, and replaced with a short indicator message: [Removed during Privacy Scrub]. This option will also remove all of the patron’s responses to question and chat forms, so all possible identifying information will be removed.

With this new scrub option, your site will still retain usage data, so you’ll still be able to see things like how many chats or tickets came in by month, day, and hour. All potential identifying information will be removed and cannot be restored. Once the scrub is run, your tickets and/or chat transcripts will look like the following:

To enable the privacy scrub for your site, get in touch with our awesome support team and let them know whether you’d like to scrub just name, email, and SMS number, or whether to scrub the entire contents of the conversation for tickets and/or chat transcripts. Please also let us know how many months of data you’d like to retain before running the scrub.

Additional Updates and Fixes

  • We’ve added a new “Link to FAQ” option on the Add/Edit FAQ page, so it’s easier to add links to related FAQs when building an FAQ. To use this option, head to the Add/Edit FAQ page > Add/Edit Links.
  • We’ve added a Keyword Filter on the FAQ Entries Knowledge Base Explorer page, so it’s easy to filter results by a particular keyword. To try it out, head to the Knowledge Base Explorer and filter by Keyword.
  • We fixed a bug where Topic List Widgets weren’t opening links in a new window when that option was selected (now they will!).
  • We fixed a bug with the Helpful Tools search box on the Ticket Answer page – now, if you search for a public FAQ on this page, the results will open in a new window so you can easily browse existing FAQs.

And Coming Soon…Chat Operator Redesign!

We’re also hard at work behind the scenes to bring you a really exciting update – this summer, we’ll be rolling out a brand new interface for Librarians monitoring and responding to chats! This new interface will completely streamline the process of responding to patron chats – we’re moving away from having each chat open in its own window, and moving toward a list view of all of your chats in progress. Active chats are listed on the left, and each chat conversation is displayed on the right, so it’s worlds easier to manage multiple conversations without needing to rearrange chat windows. We’re also adding a host of frequently requested chat features with this update, including things like improved Group chats, improved alerts (including a nicer alert tone when new messages arrive), better integrated user history, and so much more!

Needless to say, we are super excited for the new chat update, but we also recognize that the new UI is a big departure from the existing chat UI. For this reason, the new chat UI will initially be an opt-in update – once it rolls out, all librarians at your site will be able to try it out live before you make the switch. Once your site is ready, your site admins can officially switch everyone to the new interface. If you have ideas or suggestions about what you’d like to see in the new LibChat Operator screen, please let our support crew know and they will relay the message to the LibAnswers product team.

Are you a Social Butterfly?

What are you saying? And how?

The minute you get out of bed, you have a new day and with it the opportunity to be social, if you choose to be. Though, perhaps, even your choice to keep to yourself all day and not interact with people is still communicating something. Previous generations tried to hammer home the recommendation that you should think before you speak.

Today, there are so many ways to speak to each other that we should be thinking all the time about what we’re saying and how. We can go even further to suggest that when and where should also be current considerations.

What about why? Well, the why seems to be the same reason throughout time. The why…is to connect.

Social Media — Sounds fun, right?

The idea behind social media is a really great one when you think about it. You read a good book and you fall in love with it. You tell everyone you run into about it. Excellent. But, now, you also have the option of tweeting about it, posting it on Facebook, shooting out the cover on Instagram, putting it on a Pinterest board, etc. You can share the love far and wide. It’s fun to share. But, what we’re talking about is a bit different — more about cultivating a social media voice. Coming up with a cool game plan and having an entertaining voice. We have some clients doing exactly that.

According to a Pew Research Social Media Fact Sheet, all age groups studied from March of 2005 to January of 2018 have shown a substantial increase in social media use. In the 18 – 29-year-old category, the numbers went from just 7% to 88%. So, it stands to reason that Academic Libraries would step up their social game. The English Faculty Library at the University of Cambridge sent out a tweet pointing their followers to a LibGuide they created on Shakespeare resources. They’re not the first to build such a guide, nor the first to publicize a guide’s existence via tweet. However, they took a great approach.

How much do we want to check out that guide?! Even more, how much do we want to go to that library and interact with those librarians? And, that’s the ticket. This whole action plan makes perfect sense, too. You’ve built these excellent LibGuides and crafted amazing LibAnswers FAQs. You’ve put together LibWizard tutorials and set up Events and Spaces in LibCal. Using Social Media to spread the news about them is a marketing strategy that boosts the usage of the stuff you’ve built and the resources you’ve included within them. Next, the challenge is to be creative.

The best way to connect is to listen.

The University of St. Andrews Library is fearless and inventive in the way they interact with students. Like many institutions, they have a way for people to write out comments or provide feedback. What’s super is that they scan those comment cards and then create a LibAnswers FAQ out of it. Going the extra mile, they create a tweet with the original comment and then include a link to the FAQ with the complete answer.

Additionally, this helps to close the feedback loop. How often have you been solicited for your feedback, only to see it disappear into the ether and go…nowhere. Posting the actual comment cards, with the link to the FAQ demonstrates that solicited feedback was received, discussed, and responded to – even if that response is no. Points for being thorough!

Every interaction is an opportunity to show who you are.

In a Sprout Social report, it was discovered that — no surprise — people don’t like being ignored. What was surprising was how “…90% of people surveyed have used social in some way to communicate directly with a brand.” Apparently, “social surpasses phone and email as the first place most people turn when they have a problem or issue with a product or service”, according to Sprout’s consumer survey. The University of St. Andrews Library is clearly one step ahead as it takes paper comments and shares the questions and answers with its followers to reach as many people as possible. They’re being proactive in the Social Media world. No matter which channel your patrons choose to use to communicate with you, it’s always a good idea to be responsive.

The University of Liverpool Library saw a tweet, that by the admission of the sender, seemed to be a complaint that might not have needed such a public forum. But by using social listening, the library took the opportunity to connect and in doing so, showed not just that one person but all their followers how engaging their librarians are…even when the library wasn’t directly included in the tweet.

The library shows it’s listening, even if the outcome isn’t resolved, proactive listening goes a long way to alleviate customer issues. Then they present a LibAnswers FAQ that details the food and drink policy in the library and which identifies where the water fountains are. A spectacular example of the LibAnswers Platform’s ability to have staff entered FAQs come in handy. And to keep their presence light, they add in the bit about hydration – sure to put a smile on the face of their frustrated patron.

So, let LibGuides and LibAnswers do the heavy lifting for you. You’ve most likely created excellent content in there. Then pay attention to your Social Media channels for opportunities to interact with your patrons, link to the guides and FAQs that give them all the particulars they need.

Consider using LibAnswers Social Media Management with built-in Social Listening to create richer patron experiences, instill a company culture of social listening, and closing the feedback loop.

Then enjoy your followers. Have fun with them. Be yourself. Make a connection.

Become a LibAnswers Groupie

LibAnswers Groups Functionality is taking hold.

LibAnswers is the complete multi-channel communication solution. It’s brimming with features. There’s a knowledge base FAQ, SMS/Texting, LibChat, a Systems and Services Management tool, Social Media Management, Query Spy, super robust statistics, the Reference Analytics module, Twitter integration, Widgets, a powerful Ticketing System, Public-facing Groups and more.

Show us your good side.

In a LibAnswers Platform system, you can create an unlimited number of public-facing groups. These groups can either be public or hidden/internal. This allows you to organize FAQs topically. You could have a group called Writing & Citing like they do in the American Public University System. Or, a group called Digital Media, like the one at Gwinnett County Public Library. You can create internal groups that colleagues use as an intranet, professional development, or work manual. These restricted internal groups are only visible to those who are logged in to your LibAnswers system. If you don’t want to restrict access to a group of FAQs by login, create a hidden group instead. Hidden groups are visible to those with whom you share the URL. This is often for use by faculty at a university, for instance.

Using public FAQ groups, your patrons can find the answers they need more efficiently because you’re presenting them with a collection of FAQs that address their specific matter. We are familiar with this because it’s how so much of our searching today is made more productive. You can shop on a website and more easily find what you’re looking for by being able to narrow your search within a group like electronics. Your library handles so many questions and devising a way for them to be conveniently found is a great strategy. Once in those groups, people can discover so many more questions– to which they would also like the answers to — that they may not have thought of on their own.

Do you like groups? Check (outside) this box.

Springshare clients never cease to amaze when it comes to innovative uses of the features in our solutions. We give you groups functionality and you give us something completely outside the box. The United Nations – Dag Hammarskjold Library is one such client. Their Ask Dag LibAnswers system is not only immensely popular with 885 public answers available, it has employed the groups in a way that serves their particular users.

If you’re not aware, the United Nations has six official languages that they support. They have changed the label from By Group to By Language where they have English, Espanol, and Francais as the choices. In a word that is nearly universal, Bravo!

Southern New Hampshire University, which serves 3,000 on-campus students and 90,000 online students, has an SNHU LibAnswers system that is firing on all cylinders.

They are using their groups to serve as library website web pages. This allows them to create a webpage that has the thumbs up / thumbs down feedback feature that LibAnswers provides. It helps them keep their fingers on the pulse of what the students think of what they’re presenting.

Beautiful, inside and out!

We know how much work you put into creating excellent answers. The LibAnswers Platform allows you to include links and images, even upload documents or videos to make your answer pages dynamic and engaging. But, a little attention to outer beauty never hurts. Groups are independently customizable to have their own look and feel. Each has a set of pages you can tailor-make: a home page, FAQ page, and search results page. You can customize the header/footer, banner, add custom javascript and CSS code. All of this can be done in your group’s Look and Feel options.

Turns out, it’s not hard to be a fan of groups! They’re designed to help your users swiftly get the answers they need. They are flexible enough to use in a number of public and private ways. And, you can even pick the color! Learn more about being a LibAnswers Groupie, contact Sales, if you don’t already have LibAnswers or need to upgrade to the Platform.

LibAnswers webinars and training sessions:

Join us for this special LibAnswers session in April

Register to attend these LibAnswers training sessions in May

 

LibAnswers 2.18 Release – Patron Contact Cards and More

The Springy release-a-palooza continues – the LibAnswers 2.18 is on its way and will be released to all regions by the end of the day on Friday, February 2nd.  This release contains two big new features – the Patron Contact Card, and better email search indexing!

Patron Contact Card

The Patron Contact Card builds on the User History feature. Previously, User History connected tickets from the same source in a single channel – e.g. for an SMS question we connected all of the previous tickets from that SMS number. For emails, we connected all tickets from that same email. The Patron Contact Card combines different channels a single patron might use – this includes up to 2 unique email addresses, an SMS number, a Twitter handle, and a Facebook profile. With this, you can connect the communication dots for a unified view of how a single patron is communicating with your library, whether by email, SMS, chat, Twitter or Facebook. You’ll now have the full context of a patron’s conversations with your librarians, on any channel.

Whenever possible, we’ll attempt to automatically match a patron’s contact info from an existing Patron Contact Card. When auto matching isn’t possible, you can manually connect the patron’s different types of contact info via the User History screen.

How it works: SMS, Twitter, Facebook and Email

For tickets that patrons send in via SMS, Twitter, Facebook and Email, you can match these tickets to the Patron Contact Card via the User History link on the ticket answer page. Click on the User History link in the SMS ticket, select the new option to “Associate this contact with a known patron”, search for the patron’s email address, or enter a new address and click Associate. This connects their SMS number with prior questions from that email address, and you can now view the user history from both of these streams!

For Twitter, Facebook, and second Email connections, the procedure works the same way – once the patron shares their relevant contact info, head to the ticket screen, click on the User History link, and choose Associate this contact with a known person. Search for their email address, and if the patron’s email is found from prior conversations, just click Associate to connect the dots!

How it works: LibChat

If you ask for patron’s email in a pre-chat form the given LibChat transcript is automatically connected to  a Patron’s Contact Card happens automatically! If during the course of chat, the patron provides their email in the contact info field, we’ll automatically associate that transcript with the Patron Contact Card, so the full history of chats and email tickets can be viewed in one place.

A Word on Patron Privacy

The Patron Contact Card will be a powerful tool in connecting patron communication across contact streams. We also know how important preserving patron privacy is, so now may be a good time to mention the various patron privacy protections available in your system. We already take steps to ensure that patron identifying data is encrypted in our databases. But for sites that prefer an additional layer of privacy protection, you have the option to sign up for our monthly privacy scrub. You can choose to remove patron identifying information, including patron email address, phone number, IP address, and/or name. You can also choose how many months to keep data before it’s scrubbed from the server. Once this data is scrubbed from the server, scrubbed tickets will no longer display in the User History thread (as they’re no longer associated with the patron’s contact info), but the ticket itself will remain in the system (so it still counts toward aggregate stats, etc.). To sign up for a privacy scrub, contact our awesome support team and let them know how long you’d like to retain the data prior to scrubbing from the system.

Improved Email Search

You may have noticed that, when searching for prior tickets based on a patron’s email address, you have to search for an exact email address to see results. This happens because, for privacy reasons, we encrypt the email field in our database, so search indexing works a bit differently for that field. In this release, we’re introducing a new index just for email domains – now, you can run a search based on a patron’s email domain (ie everyone from mail.myschool.edu, or everyone from gmail.com) to see all users who’ve sent in tickets from that domain.

Protect the Integrity of Your Springy Websites… Free ‘Let’s Encrypt’ Security Certificates

hacker

In our October 2017 SpringyNews Newsletter, we informed Springy users that recent updates to web and mobile browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) mark any HTTP webpage that contains form content as insecure. Meaning that any public webpage containing a search box, LibCal booking form, or LibAnswers Question Submission form will automatically display a ‘Not Secure‘ warning to end users.

The security and privacy of your patron’s data is of prime importance to Springshare. Having any webpage, especially your Springshare-licensed tools, marked as unsecure is not good PR for us or you! You don’t want your patrons thinking your LibGuides, LibAnswers, and LibCal websites are untrustworthy.

To that end, we’ve made all v2 products hosted on a Springshare-controlled domain HTTPS enabled. For those of you on a custom domain, we’ve enabled security certificate hosting for LibGuides, LibAnswers, and LibCal!

And, we’ve taken it one-step further. If you have a custom domain, we’ve added integration with Let’s Encrypt to provide completely free security certificates for your LibGuides, LibAnswers, and LibCal v2 tools. We’ve made it as easy as 1,2,3 to ensure your Springshare tools are HTTPS secure, trustworthy, and safe for your end-users.

Chrome ‘NOT SECURE’ Warning Message

Why HTTPS Matters

HTTPS secures the communication and data transferred between our servers and your users’ browsers. Hackers and intruders exploit every unprotected resource between your websites and users. And every time a user interacts with your Springshare tool, whether it’s sending a search query through a LibGuides search-box or submitting a LibCal room booking request, they are sending data from that website through the interwebs to our data servers. If any part of your website is loaded over HTTP, that data is unsecure and could potentially be used to exploit other secure parts of your website. So we recommend that all pages, resources, and widgets be loaded securely over HTTPS.

Furthermore, HTTPS doesn’t just block misuse. It’s often a requirement for many browsers.

HTTPS Protects the Integrity of Your Web Presence

HTTPS helps prevent intruders from interfering with the communication between your Springshare websites and your users’ browsers. They exploit HTTP/unprotected communications to trick your users into giving up sensitive information or installing malware. Given the opportunity, they will exploit every resource that travels between your Springshare websites to your users. Resources like images, cookies, scripts, HTML… etc.

Getting a Security Certificate is Important

Security Certificates are provided by reputable and trusted third-party companies that verify your organization and your website transactions. These Certificate Authorities provide a security certificate that proves that the website/domain really belongs to you and nobody else. Essentially, the security certificate is what allows you to put the S in HTTPS.

unlock

HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, and its what allows users to access webpages. When you enter in http:// in front of your web address, it tells the browser to connect, fetch, and transfer the requested webpage.

 

lock

HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, which uses an encrypted connection when transporting webpage data.

 

My Domain Ends in .libguides.com, .libcal.com, .libanswers.com, etc.

If your v2 system is on a Springshare-owned domain, you’re all set! These domains already have SSL/HTTPS support built-in. So you can update all links to / within your system to HTTPS links now. Learn more about enabling HTTPS for Springshare-owned domains.

Wait, I Have a Custom Domain (ends in .edu, .org, .co.nz, etc.)

If your v2 systems have custom domains (e.g., ask.mylibrary.org, calendar.university.edu), then you must obtain and install an SSL certificate in order to avoid warnings. There are two ways in which you can obtain an SSL certificate.

1. Work with Your Local IT Department

Connect with your IT colleagues to obtain an HTTPS certificate for each custom domain. You own your domain and thereby you own the certificate, too… just install it on our servers when it’s ready.

If – gasp – you ever decide to cancel any of your Springshare tools where you have an HTTPS certificate, you still own your certificate(s) and can move it/them to any other server.

2. Use Our Free ‘Let’s Encrypt’ Security Certificate

We’ve added integration with Let’s Encrypt, an industry-leader, to provide free and automated security certificates… right inside your Springshare tool.

LibGuides Users

We’ll do all the hard-work by requesting and installing a free ‘Let’s Encrypt’ certificate for you! Poof, magic! Plus, we’ll automatically renew your ‘Let’s Encrypt’ certificate. This way, you can spend less time chasing down certificates and more time doing the stuff you need to do. And, if your IT department is going to need a few months before they can get your custom certificate, your site can still be protected with ‘Let’s Encrypt’ in the meantime.

The only thing you need to do on your end is to update your custom domain to point to the secure server. Once you’re pointing to the secure server, we’ll automagically install your free ‘Let’s Encrypt’ security certificate. Check-out this FAQ outlining the secure endpoints for your CNAME record.

If at any point you want to upload your own custom certificate, simply follow these steps.

For LibAnswers/LibCal Users

The first thing you’ll need to do is update your CNAME record to the secure server endpoints. Then, contact our support team about requesting a ‘Let’s Encrypt’ certificate on your behalf. It’s still free, and you can replace it anytime with your own certificate, but we haven’t fully automated the process… yet!

So, You’ve Added a Security Certificate… What’s Next?

Kudos to you – you’ve taken a huge step in ensuring that your patrons’ experience a safe web experience. But, there’s still a few more things you need to do!

1. Update All Links to HTTPS

Most likely, you’re linking to your LibGuides, LibAnswers, and LibCal systems from a variety of websites like your Library homepage, on your blog, your Facebook page, etc.

It’s imperative that you update all references to these systems with the updated HTTPS link. There’s no point in doing all this work to make your Springy tools secure if you’re still pointing to the HTTP/unsecure URL.

Update links to Springy Tools to HTTPS

2. Update Embedded Widgets to HTTPS

Although your site is configured correctly to display over HTTPS, individual pages can still be considered unsecured if they contain content from HTTP sources (such as embedded videos, search widgets, etc.). To prevent this from happening, you will either need to change the content’s source URL to HTTPS, or remove the content from the page.

Be sure to check with your database vendors about getting HTTPS widget code.

We’ve made it as easy, and free, as possible for you to ensure a secure and trustworthy experience for your end users. So, c’mon folks – let’s make sure your Springshare sites are safe and ‘Let’s Encrypt’!

LibAnswers 2.17 – iFrame Chat is Here!

We have some exciting LibAnswers features to share, including a new chat option to make the patron chat experience seamless, even while browsing between pages!

iFrame Chat – Guided Chat Mode

Picture this: you’re in the middle of guiding a patron on how to use a particular resource and poof, the patron suddenly disappears. Odds are the patron has clicked on a new link in the page, navigating away from the page where the chat was embedded. Here at Springy HQ we’ve been giving a lot of thought to how this experience can be prevented, and in that spirit we’re thrilled to bring you the brand new iFrame Chat feature. Walking patrons through complicated research questions and database searches has never been easier!

Here’s how it works: Patrons will now see a new icon in the chat window to Launch iFrame Chat – when clicked, this will relaunch the page they’re currently viewing in an iFrame, with the current chat session overlaid on top. Patrons can browse to any URL in the underlying page (or any URL you share with them in Chat) – no matter where they go, the chat window remains overlaid on top. This greatly reduces the disappearing patron effect, and make it heaps easier to walk patrons through complicated web or database searches.

Once a patron launches iFrame chat, this is what they’ll see – the page they were viewing loads within a frame, with the chat window overlaid on top. Patrons can search, click links within the frame or in the chat window, etc. – the chat window remains floating on top of the frame:

Worried your patrons won’t discover this new feature on their own? Fear not – we’ve also included a new button in the chat operator window to Suggest iFrame Chat. This button sends a prompt to the patron to Launch iFrame Chat. You’ll see an in-chat notification when the patron switches into iFrame mode.

Good to know: some websites employ iFrame busting software, which causes the patron to see a blank white screen within the frame. If this happens, the patron can leave iFrame chat mode, either by returning to the first page they started from, or popping the chat window out of the frame.

Dashboard View & Ticket Improvements

Filterable ViewsViews are one of the unsung heroes of LibAnswers – they make it easy to customize the tickets you see on the dashboard, by filtering to just the queues, tags, owners, etc. you’re most interested in. Previously, when you switched to a particular view, the filters on the dashboard would disappear. Now, when you click on a view, the filters will continue to display, meaning you can use each view as a starting point and continue to refine your options. And to make views even handier, we’ve added a new “My Tickets” view to all views, so it’s easy to jump to just your new and pending tickets.

User History – In this release we’ve also made it a bit easier to see the full history of a conversation with a specific patron, right from the ticket answer page. We’ve updated the link so it’s easier to find, and we’ve improved the modal window that displays past ticket information, so it’s easier to see all open/pending/closed tickets from the same person at a glance.

New Typeahead Menu – We’ve revamped the formatting for the predictive search dropdown menu, shared by all search boxes throughout LibAnswers. The new menu is fully accessible/keyboard friendly, and we’ve added search term highlighting to the results, so it’s easy to spot how a result relates to a search query.

Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing – Tip #3: Is Your Library Holi’Ready?

Avoid Holiday Stress

A big part of holiday planning is knowing where to be, and when. You’ve got dinner plans at your friend Tina’s house on the 24th at 6pm and latkes at your cousin Tim’s abode on the last day of Hannukkah. Coordinating all of those invitations and appearances requires a lot of planning and forethought. Will the train be packed at 5pm causing you to be late? Should you take 95N instead of 93N so you can swing by your favorite wine shop for a hostess gift? Can you fit your workplace New Year’s Eve party AND your family’s party on the same night?

Planning, Planning, Planning. Stress, Stress, Stress.

And just imagine, your library guests are under the same amount of pressure as you – plus they’re trying to find time to swing by the library as well! Maybe they’re trying to pick up some light reads to enjoy during the break, or studying for exams, or even attending your super awesome’sauce events! Whatever their reason for swinging by, you want to make sure you’re alleviating and not adding to their stress.

So the question is, is your library Holi’Ready?

Tip #3: Getting Your Library Holi’Ready

Getting your library Holi’ready doesn’t mean elaborate decorations, traveling snack-carts, or tons of holiday events. Good on you if you are (seriously, awesome job!), but even the smallest things can have a big impact and help to reduce the stress your library guests are already under.

Are Your Holiday Hours…. Everywhere?

LibCal-Hours

LibCal Hours Module: Today’s Hours Widget.

Your library hours are probably available on a hundred different webpages. And if you’re updating them to reflect your special holiday schedule, there’s a good chance you’ll miss a few places. And inevitably, a library patron will find that one webpage where the hours haven’t been updated and they’ll show up at your doors at 9pm – well past closed. They’re going to be peeved, upset, and frustrated.

And rightfully so! Most likely, their entire day is planned down to the minute – so if they found a webpage that says you’re going to be open, and then you’re not, that throws their entire day (and probably subsequent days) into the lurch.

A great way to ensure that you’re updating all your webpages to reflect your current library hours is to use the LibCal Hours ModuleThe Hours module let’s you define your standard hours, special holiday hours, and even one-off exceptions like “Aaaccck, we have to close early because a Snowa’caine is coming!”. Simply define all your hours, for all future dates and then grab an hours widget and embed that widget into those aforementioned webpages. As your hours update, day-by-day, the hours module will automagically update.

Say goodbye to outdated webpages showing inaccurate hours and say hello to happy patrons!

Text ‘Holidays’ to Get Library-Related Information

Back in 2011, about 73% of American adults and nearly almost all young adults (95%) send and receive text-messages according to a Pew Research Report. Fast-forward 6 years, and those numbers can only have increased. In fact, Forbes reported in 2015 that Millennials text more and talk less because they see phone calls “as overly intrusive, even presumptuous”.

Bottomline, if they want to communicate with your library – they’d prefer to do it as efficiently as possible and preferably over text-message.

If your library is using LibAnswers, be sure to take advantage of SMS Automatic Keywords. This way, your patrons can text a keyword, like ‘Holiday’, to your library’s SMS number and receive an auto-response with all the relevant information. Navigate to Admin > Queues > Select Your Queue > SMS Tab > SMS Automatic Keywords to set those up.

It’s fast and easy for them, and no staff monitoring of your library’s SMS service to boot. This 2010 interview with Johnson & Wales University Providence shows how their using SMS keywords in the library – it’s an oldie, but goodie!

Be sure to advertise your keywords inside the library and on your webpages too.

Pro-Tip: Update the automatic response periodically to entice your users to text again, and again – always getting new information with each one.

LibAnswers SMS Automatic Responses: Each Keyword gets up to two auto-responses = 300 characters.

Do Librarians Know All Relevant Holiday Information?

If you’re anything like most Americans, you suffer from inbox fatigue. You’re inundated with emails – whether it’s newsletters, marketing emails, SPAM, or internal communication that could have been done f2f, your inbox is exploding. In fact, 205 billion emails are sent every day. Yup, that’s billion…. with a B. 

Can you remember the last time you achieved inbox zero? For some folks, that day is yet to come.

So, if you’re trying to communicate important holiday information – try and give your colleagues a break and take it outside of email. Getting your library Holi’ready means getting your staff ready too.

1. Use Your Admin Alert Boxes!

Inside your LibGuides, LibAnswers, LibCal, and LibStaffer tools – you have access to an Admin Alert box. Head over to Admin > Admin Alert Box or System-Settings (depending on the tool).

This way, your colleagues can see custom alerts letting them know about important holiday information like hours, food drives, events, etc.

LibAnswers Admin Alert Box right on the Dashboard.

 

2. Discussion Boards in LibGuides (CMS Only)

For LibGuides CMS users, you have access to an internal discussion board. This is great for housing and storing internal discussions related to this holiday season – such as staffing schedules, holiday staff parties, and what types of events to throw at the library.

LibGuides CMS discussion boards are searchable and can be keyword tagged for sorting/filtering. So if you’re trying to remember, “What were our holiday hours last year?” you can simply login, filter on your keyword ‘Holiday’ and see the entire discussion thread and final resolution.

Remember, email was never intended to be a permanent archive – so if you’ve got saved emails in your inbox from 2008, it might be time to consider an alternative approach. 😛

LibGuides CMS Discussion Boards to Create an Internal/Searchable Staff Intranet

 

If you have any additional suggestions for getting your library holi’ready, comment below!

That’s all for this edition of ‘Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing tips’! Hopefully you enjoyed Tips #1 and #2 and tune in next year when we do it again!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing – Tip #2: Cultivating a Homemade Experience

Crafting

Nothing says the holidays more than homemade. Whether you’re baking rugelach, hand-crafting thoughtful gifts, or DIY’ing your decorations – you’re sending the message that your guests are special and deserving of homemade. Nothing beats homemade, but it can take a lot of effort, time, and work!

If you’re looking to bring that ‘homemade’ feeling to your library, you’re probably daunted by the idea of providing a homemade experience for each and every one of your patrons! How will you do it?! Well, a great way to offer a homemade experience is to provide tailored services. So while you’re not knitting individual items for each individual patron, you’re still providing a tailored experience just for them.

In fact, a 2016 article in Forbes magazine on 2017 technology trends predicted the ‘everything on-demand’ trend that definitely took off this year. Apps to deliver food, laundry, a ride, movie streaming, and more.

So, our next tip in our ‘Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing’ is all about delivering that tailored homemade and on-demand experience.

Tip #2: Cultivating a Homemade Experience

You might already be familar with creating LibGuides tailored-made for specific courses or assignments, but there are loads of other Springy tools you can use to bring that feeling of Hygge into your Library and for your users.

Create Holiday-Specific Mobile Micro Sites

The 2016 Pew Research Center Libraries Report showed that 49% of people accessed a public library website from their handheld mobile devices – smartphones and tablets. The 2017 Horizon Report highlights a 2016 StatCounter study which found that 51.3% of all web browsing worldwide took place on mobile phones and tablets, surpassing desktop web browsing for the first time. So, mobile access is important!

In case you didn’t know, LibGuides and LibGuides CMS subscribers have access to an optional add-on module called the mSite Builder. The mSite Builder allows you to create multiple mobile ‘micro’ sites for users to access on their smartphones.

There are tons of way you could use the mSite Builder. You could create a microsite for a walking tour of your library, or one showcasing upcoming library events, a fun scavenger hunt, or even a mobile conference site if you’re hosting!

But, what about creating a microsite focused on the library’s holiday events and activities?

Holiday Microsite: Getting Hygge With It!

Link to your special holiday microsite off of your regular mobile website to deliver a homemade, tailored, and on-demand experience to your patrons.

Plus, you can embed Font-Awesome icons on your mobile page menu to add a visual element.

Librarian On-Demand – Uber Reference Using LibAnswers SMS

If your library promotes roving reference, why not rebrand it as Uber reference? Everyone is calling themselves the ‘uber of something’ these days and it immediately brings to mind “they’re coming to me”. Plus, nothing says tailored library services than literally showing up at their library location with research goodies just for them.

Add signage throughout your library encouraging users to text-a-librarian for uber reference! If they text their location and what they need help with, you can reply back with an estimated arrival time of a librarian.

LibAnswers SMS

Uber Reference using LibAnswers SMS

 

Meet Me Under the My Scheduler

LibCal’s My Scheduler lets you set up your own personal schedule of availability so patrons can book time with you for one-on-one consultations. You can arrange My Schedulers by location, branch, or even by topic – so patrons don’t need to know who they’re meeting with, just that they need someone who’s great at setting up eReaders.

But what about patrons who can’t physically come to the library. It is the busy holiday season after all and in some parts of the northern hemisphere it’s brutally cold! How can you provide one-on-one tailored services to people who won’t, or physically can’t, come into the library for help?

Create a LibCal My Scheduler Category called ‘Online’ – and encourage patrons to make appointments with librarians, virtually! Using your library’s webinar technology tool or even something simple (and free!) like Join.Me.

Simply create a LibCal My Scheduler Group called ‘Online Appointments’ and assign librarians to it. Patrons can select that category when scheduling an appointment.

LibCal My Scheduler – Online Category for Providing Online-Only Assistance

 

Have fun exploring how these Springshare tools help you bring that homemade, tailored, library experience designed to make them feel like it’s all ‘just for them‘ into the library. If you can think of other ways your library can get Hygge with it, drop a note in the comments below!

That’s all for this edition of ‘Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing’ Tips! Come back next week for Tip #3!

Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing – Tip #1: Getting Emoji’tional

Emojis

While your library might be winding down from the hectic schedule of finals or if you’re experiencing the general slowdown of traffic and questions typical during this time period – here are some quick (and fun!) things you can do, right now.

We’ll be releasing our Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing as a blog series from now till Dec 22nd! So come back and check out our other Springy Tips.

Tip #1 – Getting Emoji’tional 😉

Emoji’s can be an effective way to communicate with patrons and coworkers. They’re fun, expressive, and most importantly – compact. Universally agreed upon emoji symbols can help us convey a sentiment, or emotion, without having to phrase it in a convoluted or ambiguous sentence. So, not only does it save you time, but it can help prevent confusion from indecipherable sentences. For example, if you write that you’re heading over to a reference desk meeting and I reply with an emoji thumbs-up 👍👍, you can ascertain that I understand and am confirming your message. All parties are on the same page! Time magazine recently reported a study by Harris Poll showing that 36% of millennials ages 18-34 who use “visual expressions” say that those images better communicate their thoughts and feelings than words do.

On the flip side, using emoji’s improperly can land you in some hot water if you’re not using emojis that everyone can understand or are universally accepted. For example, in the same example above, if I had replied to your message with a party popper 🎉🎉 – does that mean that I’m happy you’re leaving to go to this meeting? Or am I wishing you good luck? Sending a party popper to that message just doesn’t make sense. As the recipient to my ambiguous emoji reply, you’re justifiably confused.

So, like with any communication tool, it’s important to consider your message and how the recipient of your message will interpret it. When in doubt, don’t use any emojis at all.

Accessing Your Built-In Emoji Keyboard

You’re probably very familiar with your emoji keyboard built into your smartphone device. But, did you know that your desktop computer also has a built-in emoji keyboard? Well, it does! Here’s how you can access it!

Step One: Be sure your cursor is inside an editing/typing window – like LibAnswers SMS Ticket Reply, or LibCal Social Publishing Field.

Step Two: Keyboard Shortcuts for Accessing the Emoji Keyboard

Windows Users Mac Users
  • Windows Button + semicolon (;)
    or
  • Windows Button + period (.)
  • CMD + Control + Spacebar

Step Three: Double-click to select your emojis, choosing as many as you want. You’ll notice the emojis being added to your text-editor. When you’re done, click to close the emoji keyboard.

Mac Computer Emoji Keyboard

Using Emojis In Your Springshare Tools

Now that you know how you can access your emoji keyboard, let’s have fun exploring all the different ways you can use emojis in your Springshare tools.

1. LibAnswers

There are many places that you can use emojis when replying to patron inquires inside of LibAnswers. Three places that come to mind are the SMS/Text-Message Tickets, Social Media Management, and inside of LibChat.

Additionally, using emojis in more ‘informal’ communication like text-messages, and social media posts can help users feel more connected to your content. In that same Time Magazine article, they reported that “the majority of people across age groups also said they feel ‘more connected’ to people they frequently message when using emojis and GIFs.”

In Your SMS/Text-Message Replies

LibAnswers SMS ticketing functionality allows you to answer patron-initiated texts natively inside the LibAnswers platform. Bottom-line, if you can type…you can text.

While replying to a patron inquiry, consider adding an emoji! Remember, text-messaging was the original birthplace of emojis, so using emojis in your reply will appear natively in the patron’s smartphone messaging app.

Adding Emojis to your LibAnswers SMS/Text-Message Replies

 

In Your Social Media Posts/Replies

If emojis were born in text-message, they grew to adulthood on social media. In your LibAnswers Social Media Management Tool, consider adding emojis to your Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest Posts and Replies. Remember, users feel comfortable when communicating with people who use emojis. And from our recent social media post, it’s important to be authentic. Emojis in your social media posts are a great way to communicate with patrons in a casual, informal, and authentic manner.

Emojis in Twitter - LibAnswers Social Media Management Posting

In Your LibChat Messages

In case you didn’t know, LibAnswers’ LibChat comes with built-in emoji support – but it’s limited to just the smiley face emojis. Use your built-in emoji keyboard to add more visuals to your chat convos! 👍

Built-in Emoji Support in LibAnswers’ LibChat

 

2. LibCal

Your library’s calendar events are an ideal spot for integrating some emoji fun! Remember, context is important – so it’s probably not a good idea to add emojis in a calendar event advertising the library’s counseling services.

In Your LibCal Calendar Events

When advertising your LibCal calendar events, consider adding emojis to the built-in Social Media posting integration.

Social Media Integration built-in to LibCal Calendars.

 

3. LibWizard

When asking patrons to fill out Library feedback forms or surveys – consider adding emojis to the radio and checkbox options!

As a tip, don’t replace words entirely with emojis as some user’s browsers might not be able to display them. Always use them in ‘conjunction’ with text unless you’re 100% certain that the emojis you’re using are compliant across all apps.

Adding emojis to the LibWizard Choices Options Fields.

Have fun poking around your Springshare tools and explore all the ways you can use emojis! And remember to have fun! 🎊🎉🎈

 

That’s all for this edition of ‘Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing’ Tips! Come back later this week for Tip #2!

Social Media’s Role in Higher Education Libraries

If you’re not already on social media, we hope we’ve made a case in our recent blog post and August SpringyNews newsletter for you to consider hopping on the social media train.

But if not, perhaps this recent Pew Research Report on Social Media might change your mind. They found that 69% of Americans use social media today. And of that 69%, 86% are between the ages of 18-29.

Check out this map by Pew Research:

Pew Internet Usage Map

Furthermore, roughly 3/4 of Facebook users and about half of Instagram users visit these sites at least once per day.

So, why is social media important for Higher Education Libraries? Well, that’s where your students, and prospective students, are.

So, You’ve Drunk the Kool-aid…What’s Next?

So, you’re on social media – good for you! Here are some ideas and suggestions for engaging with your social media demographic.

The Importance of Being Authentic

However you approach social media, imagine your posts as if you’re talking to an acquaintance. Not a close, personal friend, but someone with whom you can have a casual and informal conversation.

Social media users are accustomed, and therefore respond more strongly, to a more conversational style. Additionally, they’ll feel more connected to the Library through social interactions which feel more human and accessible than your highly-stylized library website.

What Types of Content Should You Post?

Like everyone in the social media universe, you probably struggle with the following social existential questions:

  • What should I post today?
  • Does this thing I want to post add value for our users?
  • How do I post something that will go viral with our followers?

And while we can’t offer the answers to those specific questions, we do have some tips for writing successful posts.

1. Highlight Your Community

Nothing speaks to your social media users than talking to them about them (how meta!). Skim the newspapers, both on-campus and locally, and share posts that talk about current students, faculty, staff, or alumni.

Highlight student workers, and their contributions to the library. They’ll most likely retweet/share it, meaning their large group of followers will see it too.

Bottom-line, show your audience that your community is note-worthy and that you’re proud to share their accomplishments, which by extension, are your accomplishments as well. #PatYourselfOnTheBack

2. Showcase Events…Even Ones Outside the Library

It’s easy to get stuck in the mind-set that the library’s Social Media accounts are solely for the purpose of promoting library content. But, by promoting campus-wide events and content, you’re positioning your social media accounts as the go-to place for knowing what’s going on on-campus.

And, for events that occur at the library, consider creating a digital experience around a physical event…especially for people who can’t attend. Set up a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram Live video stream of the event. Gather user-generated content and retweet them to show that you’re listening on social media. Once the event has passed, continue to showcase and advertise it. Post quotes, pictures, recap videos, and more.

3. Show the Day-to-Day At the Library

comfychairstweetIs the library coffee cart running low on donuts? Post a picture inviting your users to grab the last one before they’re all gone!

Teaching a library instruction class today? Be sure to post a picture of the library classroom tagging the professor and mentioning the course name/number.

Take a quickie video of how to enter the library from a particularly confusing location or how to find Room 201 behind the strange corner next to the bathroom.

The point is that if your users can see the ‘day-to-day’ experience in the library, they’ll see how they can fit into it and how they belong there.

4. What Can You Offer… That No One Else Can

Librarians are often the worst at touting their own horns, but the work you all do to help and support your students, faculty, and staff is nothing short of amazing. So, take some time on social media to tell your users what you can offer them, that no other space or department on campus can. #BlowYourHorn

  • 24Hour Library – If you’re the only space on campus with 24hour access, be sure to let your users know…and remind them, often.
  • Citation Services – Most freshman have no idea how to write up a works cited page. If you offer citation services, let them know. Also, don’t hesitate to tag specific classes or professors in your posts. Students may not know that they should seek out MLA citation help,  but if you tweet “Students of Prof. Smith’s ENG102 Comp. Class – come to the library for help with your paper.” they’ll know you’re talking about them.
  • Quiet/Safe Space – Don’t underestimate the value of simply having a quiet and safe space on a loud, bustling campus. Take photos of your comfy chairs, cozy nooks, and stationed security guards so students know that this is a place to go to not only get some peace and quiet, but to feel safe as well.
  • Your Awesome Equipment – If you’ve got 3D printers and a makerspace lab, you’re probably the only place on campus with that level of equipment. You’re like the Tony Stark on-campus, showcase it on social media too.

How Can Springshare Help You on Social Media?

We understand the importance of social media and to that end we’ve rolled out Social Media Management inside of the LibAnswers platform. This completely *free* with your LibAnswers v2 Platform subscription tool empowers you to do what you do best on social media.

LibAnswers Social Media Management Tool

Connect your library’s Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest pages and manage all three of them from one interface. Here’s what else you can do:

  • Engage in Social Listening – Setup Twitter Hashtags to watch and keep your finger on the conversation pulse occurring in your community.
  • Schedule Posts – One of the most important aspects of social media is consistent posting. To that end, schedule Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest posts into the future so your social feed is always buzzing.
  • Use Facebook Messenger Live – Integrate your Facebook page and you’ll be able to answer Facebook Messenger live chats right from the LibChat operator console. This is a great way to provide social customer service natively inside Facebook.
  • One View for All Stats – Never shortchange your reference stats by being able to view all your social activity from one stats interface.
LibAnswers Social Media Management Tool

LibAnswers Social Media Management Tool