Archive for LibChat

LibAnswers 2.9 Update Now Live!

Exciting news, we have a slate of LibAnswers updates to share! This release is all about LibChat – we’ve introduced several “holy cow, that is awesome!” features, including chats that can follow the patron from page to page, searchable transcripts, and accessibility updates. Let’s get to the good stuff!

Follow Me Chat Widgets

It’s a common frustration – a patron is chatting with you and happens to navigate to another page in your site, causing a sudden disconnect and lost conversation. We have big BIG news – we’ve added follow-me capabilities to all LibChat widgets, so if a patron navigates to a new page, as long as the new page also contains a LibChat widget, your patrons will be able to continue the conversation seamlessly, without starting a brand new chat session.

This feature makes it much simpler to assist users as they navigate across pages. Previously the popout widget was the best answer to this conundrum (and it’s still a great resource), and we’re thrilled to be able to extend this functionality to sliding widgets and in-page embedded widgets as well!

Searchable/Filterable LibChat Transcripts

Search Transcript Filter ScreenshotThat’s right – you can search the full text of LibChat transcripts for specific keywords! This is a great way to get a read on the number of questions that are coming in on a particular topic. Plus, not only are transcripts themselves searchable, but we’ve also added a keyword search filter to LibChat statistics and reports. Use this to create a report on the number of times a particular keyword has been mentioned on a daily/hourly basis, or by staff member, etc.

LibChat Accessibility Improvements

We’ve made major strides toward fully accessible LibChat widgets, and we’re thrilled to say that LibChat is accessible right from the get go. From better focus management when the window pane, changes, to ensuring that all images have appropriate alt text links, to rewriting the slideout widget so it’s easier for screenreader software to navigate, we’ve made sure to cover accessibility in chat widgets from top to bottom. We’ve also made major improvements to the load time efficiency for all LibChat widgets. All of our chat widget scripts are now roughly 1/4 of their former size under the hood, meaning that any webpage that contains a LibChat widget will load that much faster!

Please note – it’s a good idea to take a peek at your widget today to make sure everything looks as you remember, especially folks using sliding widgets. One of our accessibility improvements updated the way that sliding widgets display – use the same image in any of the 3 page positions (left, right, or bottom). It’s possible that for folks already using an image in a sliding widget, the widget image may be rotated incorrectly. If this happens to you, head to LibChat > Chat Widgets > Edit Widget and find your widget. In most cases if your image is just text on a colored background, you can remove the image and use the existing text and color settings for the tab (that will be more accessible!). If your image is more than just text, you will need to edit the image itself. Rotate the image so the text reads normally (left to right for most of you). Our widget code will automatically rotate the image as necessary for the difference widget positions.

Chat Operator Console Updates

  • Screenshot of FAQ Search BoxFAQ Search in the LibChat Operator Window – Picture this – you’re in the midst of helping a patron answer a tricky question, and need to search your LibAnswers FAQ for an answer. We’ve got a fun new addition to the Chat Operator Window to help – now, you’ll notice a FAQ search build right in, so no more navigating to other pages to search your FAQs!
  • Improved Resizing for Chat Widgets – When you start a chat with a patron, sometimes it’s helpful to expand the size of the chat window to view more of the conversation. We’ve made improvements to the drag-to-resize functionality with this update, so you’ll find it much easier to drag the window to the size that works best for you!
  • Offline Button Colors – We’ve made it easier to customize the color of button widget when they’re offline, to give your patrons more of a visual cue when your service is online vs offline. Head to LibChat > Chat Widgets and select any button widget to customize the offline button color.

Concierge / “Can We Help You?” Popup Widgets

  • Auto-popout Button Widget – Do you love the concierge / “Can we help you” auto-slideout widgets? Us too – they’re a great way to call attention to your live chat service and prompt users to ask for help when they need it! We’ve extended this functionality beyond slide-out widgets – now you can add a concierge message using button widgets too! Just head to the widget builder and select the button widget type, scroll to the Autoload Delay setting and select how many seconds the widget should wait before popping up.
  • Dismiss “Can We Help You?” Popouts – Previously, if you had multiple “Can we help you?” concierge widgets on separate pages in your site, the prompt was displayed every time a patron loaded a new page, making it a bit hard to dismiss. There can be a fine line between offering help and pestering the user, so we’ve updated this behavior – now if a patron dismisses the message, it won’t continue to pop up on subsequent pages.

Train Future Librarians and Request a *Free* Suite of Springshare Tools

Graduating Librarians, Information Professionals, and School Media Specialists are entering a workplace that requires more and more specialized skills, knowledge, and experience. Things like:

  • Experience at building a LibGuide;
  • Knowledge of administering & maintaining a LibGuides system;
  • Skill in using virtual chat reference tools like LibChat;
  • Know-how with coordinating, managing, and advertising library events;
  • Expertise in building and creating interactive instructional tutorials.

At Springshare, we recognize that Librarians-in-Training are the future <cue cheesy music> of Librarianship and we want to help them be as prepared as possible for what’s to come!

To that end, we’re offering a free Suite of Springshare Tools to any and all LIS Programs, School Media Specialist certification programs, or M.Ed Programs, and others. If you’re not sure your school or program qualifies, just fill out the form below and inquire!

With your LIS Suite, students will gain real-world experience using Springshare Tools. Furthermore, it can serve as a living and online archive of their student work – invaluable to future employers.

What’s in the LIS Suite of Springshare Tools?

Each LIS Suite comes with the following Springshare tools and you’re welcome to choose one, a few, or all of the tools to utilize within your program. You don’t need to get the entire Suite if you don’t need it! But, we think you might like to make use of all the tools in your proverbial toolkit!

LibGuides LogoLibGuides CMS:  Students learn to curate knowledge and build multimedia-rich guides by:

  • Creating subject, course, or topical Guides
  • Creating a mock ‘Library Website’
  • Learning about Bootstrap in a user-friendly environment
  • Creating a mock ‘Staff Policies & Procedures’ manual

LibWizard Logo​LibWizard: Students learn to create interactive tutorials, quizzes, surveys, and forms to engage patrons by:

  • Building self-paced interactive tutorials and assessments
  • Assessing patron learning with quizzes
  • Creating engaging feedback surveys
  • Replacing paper forms with mobile-friendly online forms

LibAnswers LogoLibAnswers Platform: Students develop their virtual reference and reference interview skills by:

  • Practicing a live chat exchange using LibChat
  • Creating media-rich FAQs and learning best practices for keyword optimization
  • Practicing their reference interview via email, SMS, Twitter, and more

LibCal LogoLibCal: Students learn how to create engaging library programming and events, manage space bookings, and create their own one-on-one consultation scheduler by:

  • Practicing creating a library calendar with engaging events
  • Communicating and advertising events to patrons
  • Managing library spaces, study rooms, and bookable spaces
  • Creating their own schedule for librarian consultations and advertising them to patrons

Terms of Use – All the Fun Without the Jargon

  1. Your LIS Suite of Springshare Tools may only be used within your library school, educational, or certification program to train future librarians and information professionals on the use of Springy Tools.
  2. You / your designated group of local admins are front-line support for any questions your students or faculty have about using Springshare tools. They / you can have full access to our help documentation and training, but all support questions from students/faculty are routed through you. Basically, you know them better than we do so it makes sense for their questions to be answered locally!
    • If you / your designated group of local admins have questions or need to report any issues, contact Springshare Support.
You may not use Springy Tools to provide services to patrons or end-users.

What About Content on Other LIS Systems?

Since 2011, we’ve realized the importance in providing access to LibGuides for Librarians-in-Training. If you’ve created content on these systems, we’ve outlined your options below.

Request Your LIS Suite of Springshare Tools!

Ready to get started? Request your LIS Suite of Tools today!

 

LibAnswers 2.7 Update Coming Soon!

We’ve got some great treats in store in the 2.7 LibAnswers update, coming to you this Thursday, March 3rd at 8:00am EST. While there will be no downtime for the LibAnswers system as a whole, there will be approximately 5 minutes of downtime for the LibChat service. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause. Read on to learn about all of the great new features coming soon!

New FAQ Group Customization

We’re simplifying the process of customizing FAQ Group pages, with a focus on making customization as easy as point and click. Admins can head to Admin > FAQ Groups to check out the new options – we’d recommend trying them out in a new FAQ Group initially to ensure you don’t change the layout of an existing group. All of the existing customization options are still available, but you’ll now see an option to switch between simple customization vs advanced customization options.

Here are a few key features of our new simplified customization options:

  • Simplified Header Layouts – Choose from 3 straightforward header layout options to customize the position of major header elements, such as the search box, browse buttons, etc.
  • Simplified Color Customization – Use simple point and click selectors to customize font and header colors.
  • Simplified Contact Us Box – Set up your Contact Us box once, including all of the ways patrons can contact you (by phone, email, SMS, LibChat, question form, etc.) and display it on every page in your FAQ group with a simple click.

LibChat Updates

  • Schedule LibChat sign-off by department – We heard tons of great feedback on the new LibChat scheduled sign-off option, so we decided to extend the power to all individual departments in your site! Admins can head to Admin > LibChat Settings > Settings – you can now apply your sign-off rules to All departments, or to an individual department.
  • New LibChat department status list in “Who’s Online” – We’ve also added an option so site admins can easily see which departments are currently signed in online. Head to Admin > LibChat Setup > Who’s Online to see the list!
  • Clarified LibChat status indicator on dashboard – We’ve heard some confusion from folks regarding the “LibChat is Online / Offline” message on the dashboard, so we’ve expanded the indicator to show both the status of your LibChat service as a whole, as well as your personal online/offline status. LChindicator
  • Dual-claiming Bug Fix – We squashed a bug that could potentially arise when 2 people claimed a single chat at the same time.
  • Update to current version of node.js – This one’s for the nerds! We’ve updated to the most current version of node.js to ensure that LibChat is the most stable, reliable chat available in the market.

Ticket Updates

  • AND filtering for tags – We’ve updated the way tag filtering works – now, if you filter by multiple tags, we’ll treat this filter as an AND search rather than an OR search, to help you find tickets that match all tag criteria in one go.
  • Rich Text Editor now available in ticket transfers & internal notes – Add some style to the internal notes and transfer notes you add to tickets – we’ve included the full Rich Text Editor
  • File upload in internal notes – We’ve added the option to upload files when leaving internal notes, making it easier to collaborate with your fellow librarians on documents prior to sending them on to patrons.
  • Views now support multiple owners – Are you using Views? They’re a fantastic way to create custom views of the tickets in your system – think of them as a way to save a set of filters which can then be selected using an easy drop-down list on the dashboard. In addition to all the other filters you can already use when creating views, you can now create views based on multiple ticket owners.
  • Ticket Export improvements:
    • Keywords and Tags are now included in ticket exports.
    • Added Other Missing Filters to Stats Export – this includes the ticket status, updated between dates, turnaround hours, patron name, and email address.
    • New Export Option: Strip HTML – We’ve added an option to strip HTML from ticket content during export, which can make the contents of ticket exports much easier to read.

Coming Soon: New and Improved Search

While this is still a preview / coming soon for now, it’s one we’re very excited about!! In the coming weeks, we’ll be adding a massive update to the customization options available in search. We’ll still be supporting the current search layout, but we’ll also add advanced search options to support executing a search in multiple sources from a single search box. Both LibGuides and LibAnswers will support this new search interface right out of the box, and you’ll also be able to show search results from any 3rd party source – such as your library catalog, individual databases, etc. – any resource that offers an open search API can be integrated directly in your LibGuides and LibAnswers system!

Even better, you’ll be able to select from multiple layout options for this search. Choose whether to show search results from multiple sources either in multiple tabs on the search results page (1 tab per resource), or use a sweet bento search display, where results from each source are displayed in an individual box on a single page.  We’re confident these new options will revolutionize the way users search your Springshare resources – and best of all, all of these great new search features will be included as a standard part of every LibGuides and LibAnswers subscription! Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for more info on when these great new features will be available!

New Tabbed Layout:

searchtabbedlayout

 

New Bento Style Layout:

searchbentolayout

LibAnswers 2.6.5: LibChat Updates Coming Soon!

We’re cooking up another great LibChat update that’s coming soon to a computer near you! We’re planning a chat server restart to bring these updates live on Wednesday, December 23rd at 8:00am EST. There will be no downtime for the LibAnswers system as a whole.

Over the past few months we have dedicated a lot of development time to making the most popular chat platform for libraries even better and the response from our library community has been amazing. Our job is never done, however, so this latest batch of updates is just another step in our commitment to constantly improve and enhance our tools. You are going to love these new LibChat-centric features so let’s get right to them…

 


New Chat Widget Builder

As we’ve been cranking away on offering sweet new features for LibChat, we figured it was time for a Chat Widget Builder refresh. LibChat widgets offer an unprecedented level of customization, and with this new refresh, the smorgasbord of customization options are 100% intuitive and easy to use. Here’s a quick preview:

NewWidgetBuilder

 

The new widget builder layout is designed around a simple theme – Widget Options on the left, Text and Color customization on the right, and help text offered at every step of the way. Widget Options cover how the widget functions in the wild – they’re how you control things like:

  • Widget Fallback Options – choose whether the widget should connect to a specific person, or to a chat department. If that person or department isn’t currently available, you can then choose as many fallback options as you’d like. A typical fallback might look something like: If Sarah is online, then connect new chats from this widget to Sarah; If Sarah isn’t online, then connect new chats from this widget to anyone in the Reference Department; If no one in the Reference Department is online, then connect to any department in my library; If no one in my library is available, then connect to our shared consortial chat service. This ensures a totally seamless experience for your patrons no matter who’s online!
  • Behavior Before the Chat – LibChat widgets support virtually any combination of welcome screen options. Some libraries prefer to prompt patrons for information prior to starting a chat, to collect things like the initial patron question, patron name and email address, or even a patron’s current status with the library. Other libraries prefer to skip initial questions entirely and jump straight into a chat. LibChat supports all of these potential setups with zero coding skills necessary – two clicks and you’re done!
  • Behavior During & After the Chat – Allow or Prevent file uploads, and create custom error messages for patrons who may have trouble connecting to your service due to outdated browsers.
  • Behavior When Chat is Offline – The heart of a good 24/7 service is connecting users to the help they need any time, anywhere. The Offline FAQ integration is here to help you do just that – if no one is available to chat, you can set your chat widgets to show a FAQ auto-suggest search box right in the widget, so patrons can connect directly to your other help content right at the point of need!

The right side of the widget is dedicated to text and color customizations. Literally every text element of the chat widget is fully customizable with zero coding skills- just click on the element you want to change, type in your text, and voila, you’re done! All colors are fully customizable as well – again, just click on the element you want to change, and you’ll see a color picker – pick any color you’d like, to fully brand each widget for your institution.

 


LibChat “Away” Status

Need to step away from your computer for a moment, but don’t want your LibChat service to appear offline while you’re away? Then the new Away status is for you! You’ll find this new option in the LibChat Operator Pane next to the Go Offline button:

setaway

 

 

When you enable the new Away setting:

Personal Widgets: Patrons will see an alert message informing them that while the chat is online, the operator is temporarily away; they can then re-check the status to see if a librarian is available.

Department Widgets: If multiple librarians are monitoring a department and one is set to Away, Department Widgets will continue to display as available. If all librarians monitoring a department set themselves to Away, the chat widget will then check to see if a fallback department is available. If all librarians are Away and there are no fallback departments available then patrons will see an alert message like the one below.

checkstatus

You can fully customize the Away message and the look of the widget (and our revamped widget builder page will make customizing this text even easier!). Here’s an example of what a typical Away message might read. Remember that all of this is customizable so you can pick and choose whatever message works best for you.

 


Idle Chat Hold Messages

Picture this: a chat patron asks a real humdinger of a question – like “How many helium filled balloons would it take to lift a person off the ground?”. While you’re engaged in the thrill of the hunt for an answer, you may find this type of question will take more than a few seconds to research – heck, you may even need to leave the desk to consult local reference materials. While this is exactly the type of researchy thrill that many of us live for, the downside is that while you’re on the hunt, the typical chat patron is left with “dead air” – every minute that ticks by is a minute where the patron is left wondering if you’re coming back…

That’s why we’re excited to announce our new Idle Chat Messages. These help to reassure patrons that you’re still actively working on tracking down an answer, automatically – so even if you’re away from your terminal, patrons will know you’re hard at work researching their question!

To create an Idle Chat message (once the update rolls out), click the “Manage Account” link from the orange command bar and scroll to the “Idle time” section. From here you’ll be able to define an idle message – like “I’m working hard on your question, thanks for your patience!” – along with the amount of time (in minutes) that should elapse before the message is shown.

 


Editing & Anonymizing Transcripts

We know how critical patron privacy is for libraries – that’s why we’re making it easy to anonymize patron information in your LibChat transcripts. Once the update rolls out, Admins will see a new option under LibChat > Chat Transcripts to Edit Chat Transcript. We’ve included 3 streamlined ways to edit patron information in transcripts with minimal clicks:

  • Convert [entered name] to “Patron” – this strips the name that the patron initially entered in the chat pane and changes it to “Patron”
  • Integrated Search and Replace – This allows you to automatically search on any word or phrase that may appear in a transcript (such as the patron barcode, name, etc.) and automatically replace it with either a blank space, or any text you’d prefer.
  • Click to Search – Click on any text in the transcript itself to search on that term or phrase, and use the search and replace tool to strip information as necessary.

edittranscript

 

We’ve also added a new system-level option for Admins which automatically removes Patron name from all transcripts upon saving. When this option is enabled, the system will automatically change whatever patron name entered upon entering chat to the customizable term (Patron, or Customer, or… whatever you choose).  Even when this “automatic anonymizing” system-level option is enabled by the Admin, you will still be able to go edit individual chat transcripts, if any other information needs to be changed in the transcript itself.

 


Saved Chat Operator Settings

Do you find yourself re-setting your LibChat settings – such as the departments and queues you monitor – each time you log in to LibChat? Then our new Saved Chat Settings are for you! With this new setting, you can create a login profile that applies every time you log in to your chat service. Just select which chat departments and LibAnswers queues you prefer to monitor by default, and we’ll apply those settings each time you log in to your chat service.

Once the update rolls out, head to the Manage Account area from the orange command bar to set your preferred default departments and queues to monitor when you sign into LibChat.

 


Backup & Off-Hours Chat Staffing Service

OK, we admit it – we’ve saved the best for last!  Many institutions and consortiums have told us they are very interested in using LibChat with a backup staffing option, for those times when they do not have enough staff options to offer full 24/7 (or weekend, or… whenever) online reference. We have worked long and hard on this and took the time to ensure that we are able to offer this service while maintaining the highest standards that Springshare is known for, and we’re thrilled to announce that this service is now available. So, if you need backup chat reference staffing, talk to us and we’ll provide you with a world-class super-duper knowledgeable staff of professional librarians with MLS degrees from accredited US library and information science schools to cover your chat reference 24/7 or during any time slots you need us, to ensure your patrons get the answers they need – whenever that is.  We are working on offering a full suite of professional services to academic, school, public, and special libraries so this chat backup staffing is just the first offering of more to come. 🙂

We are super excited about the evolution of LibChat and its “parent” LibAnswers, and we’re constantly working to make them even better. None of this would be possible without your most excellent feedback and ideas so please keep them coming – we love it and always want more J.  Please contact your Springshare regional manager, or our support & training team, or our chief springy Slaven (don’t believe the twitter hashtag rumors, he’s super-nice 😉 ) about these latest and greatest LibChat and LibAnswers offerings and tell us what else we should be doing to make them even better. Oh, and if you are going to MW ALA in Boston, please stop by our booth #1611 to say hello and talk to us about your chat backup staffing needs or anything else Springy-related.

Happy Holidays to All!

LibAnswers 2.6.4 Update Now Live

The LibAnswers 2.6.4 update rolled out this morning! This mini-update includes several awesome LibChat improvements and a new widget option to boot. It also includes a number of back-end server updates, which make LibChat even more stable and more powerful than ever before!

New Widget Option – Skip Entry Screen

New Widget

LibChat provides you with tons of options to customize the Chat Entry form, i.e. what question(s) you wish to ask the patron – it could be as simple as asking for just Name, or as complex as asking them additional info (grade, initial question, desired department, etc.) – LibChat makes it possible for you to customize this form fully. But, what if you don’t want to ask any questions and would rather just have the patron start chatting anonymously? Well, now you can 🙂  We’ve added a new option to skip any questions before starting the chat.

You’ll find this option in the widget builder options to Skip Entry Screen. This option bypasses the need for patrons to click on a button to “Start Chat” – patrons who see the widget will hop straight into the chat-in-progress view. As always, all elements of this view are customizable right in the widget builder – just click on the widget preview down below to customize the language to say just what you want to say.

Good to know: widgets created that skip the login screen can’t include the same pre-chat questions that our other widgets offer (like multiple choice questions and prompting people to enter their name prior to starting the chat), and all users who chat with you will be recorded as anonymous users.

New Chat Ratings & Comments Report

Chat Feedback ScreenOne of our very favorite parts of LibChat is the ability to automatically collect quick feedback from end-users when a chat concludes. This feature is built into every chat widget by default – it’s a fantastic way to get a quick read on patron satisfaction with your LibChat service.

Up to now, the comments that each user provided were stored inside individual transcripts. We thought we’d make it easier to discover these comments along with their associated ratings, which is why we’ve added the new Chat Ratings report! To find it, head to LibChat > Statistics and select the Chat Ratings tab.

Scheduled Chat Service Log-off

We know how it is – sometimes days have a way of getting hectic, and with the million-and-one things that happen at any library service point, sometimes folks forget to log out of chat at the end of the day. That’s why we’ve added the new scheduled sign-off feature – just enter the time of day when your service should go offline, and a few minutes after the hour all librarians signed in and monitoring LibChat will be disconnected. If librarians are currently engaged in a chat, they won’t be logged off – this will just affect folks who aren’t actively chatting with patrons.

Admins – head to Admin > LibChat Set-up > Settings > Sign-off Schedule to set your logoff schedule!

Customized Chat Error Message

We’ve added a new customizable error message for folks who may be having issues connecting to your chat service. This message will display to patrons who, for one reason or another, are having trouble establishing a connection to your LibChat service – it could be they’re using an outdated browser (IE8, we’re lookin’ at you), or it could be that they’re suffering from spotty wifi or an unreliable internet connection.

When issues like this arise, LibChat will display a special error message which alerts folks to the situation and displays a link to Submit Your Question. Clicking on this link will pop open the LibAnswers question form in a new window, and any information the patron previously entered will be populated into the form. You can now customize this message – just head to the Widget Builder & edit any widget, then click the “Error Message” link.

Wait Time

We’ve added a new statistic – you’ll now be able to see how long each chat patron waited before a librarian chat operator claimed and replied. This gives a bit more contextual information on your chat service, & can be helpful for monitoring staffing levels. It also provides a bit more context for missed chats – did the patron wait a long time before giving up, or did they immediately navigate away (because ooo look a butterfly!). You can view this new metric listed in each chat transcript – it’s included for both successful chats as well as in the missed chats report.

LibAnswers 2.5 Update Coming Friday

The summer of updates continues! The LibAnswers 2.5 update is coming on Friday, July 24th at 7:30am EDT. There will be no downtime for the overall LibAnswers system, with the exception of a minute or two of downtime for users currently logged in to LibChat. Here’s what’s on deck:

LibAnswers Updates

  • Updated Dashboard Views – We’re making a few adjustments to the Dashboard ticket view pages to make them easier to scan for key information on each ticket. Now it’s easier to scan the page for patron name/email, current status, and who last replied (so you know who’s waiting on a response).
  • Image Previews in Tickets – We’re adding an onscreen preview for submitted image files (gif, jpeg, png, etc.). When patrons send you image files in LibChat and LibAnswers, you’ll see the image in a little popup window instead of downloading the file, so you’ll never have to download an email signature or social networking icon again. 🙂
  • RefAnalytics Completion Prompts – Want to make doubly sure librarians fill out key Reference Analytics metrics when answering tickets and chats? We’re adding a new administrative setting to remind your LibAnswers staffers to fill out the Reference Analytics form. Admins will head to Admin > System Settings > General and scroll to the new RefAnalytics settings.

LibChat Updates

  • Emoticons – We’re adding support for basic smiley chat images, making it that much easier to let folks know how you feel. 🙂 Click on the smile image in the chat widget pane to see which emoticons are supported, and add to your live chats using menu-selection or keyboard entry.
  • Updated Canned Message UI – We’re updating the selection menu in the chat pane for canned messages, so it’s easier to scan and quickly choose the right message.
  • Wait Time Statistics – We’re adding a new stats report to show you how long, on average, your chat patrons are waiting before their chat is answered. You’ll see this metric integrated in various chat reports, and you’ll also see individual wait times in each chat transcript.

Delaware Libraries Using LibAnswers for Statewide Reference

AskALibrarian DelawareWith more than 30 public, academic, and special libraries participating statewide, Ask a Librarian Delaware has been servicing Delawareans since 2003. In 2014 alone, they answered 3,000 chat questions and an additional 3,000 email questions roughly equating to 500 questions answered per month.

On March 1st, 2015 – the Ask A Librarian Delaware service switched to using LibAnswers for their statewide reference expanding their service to include SMS/Text-Message Reference. We had a chance to chat with Cathay Keough, Statewide Coordinate of Reference Services for DAAL, and here’s what she had to say!

Delaware Division of Libraries - Genealogy LibGuides

Delaware Division of Libraries – Genealogy LibGuides

What inspired you to switch to LibAnswers for your Statewide Service?

Ask a Librarian Delaware is an extension of Delaware libraries’ reference services, and in keeping with our initiative to find ways to improve library services, it was important to keep our eyes open for products that best fit our ideals.  Springshare’s LibGuides was already being used by Delaware Division of Libraries, and that gave us an introduction to the other products Springshare provides.  Upon closer examination and through a trial process, we decided to proceed with this transition to LibAnswers.  I had also seen the FAQs portion of LibAnswers in action through another library service, and was impressed by a demo provided during a library conference.

Statistics are important to DAAL – Tell us how you’re using LibAnswers Reference Analytics to track reference stats.

To track statistics, we began using the Dewey Decimal system a few years ago as a way to help us identify types of questions asked across all of our reference interactions (on the desk, telephone, email, chat, texting) and have coined the term for this reporting process, “Dewey Delaware.”  Our LibAnswers Reference Analytics was easily set up to continue this type of tracking.

You’ve been using LibAnswers for DAAL for 5 months now – tell us about your experience!

June Stats!

  • 555 Views on FAQs
  • 86 SMS/Text-Message Questions Answered
  • 600 Total June Reference Questions across Email, SMS, Chat

So far, from the training to the statistics, LibAnswers has been just what we hoped it would be:

  • easy to train library staff
  • intuitive to use
  • responsive on any device for library staff and patrons
  • adaptable for future considerations, such as developing a separate Group or Queue identity for a special library, but within the same cooperative.

Staff commonly remark that they love the interface and find it to be an easy and effective way to provide reference for online customers.

As a shared statewide system, the “Reuse Answers” (FAQs and librarians’ responses) have already shown value for library staff; it saves time as well as creates consistency in answering to share what we know in this way.  Features like Reuse Answers, patron surveys on chat, and Query Spy give us excellent information to continue to improve our reference services.

We also appreciate that Springshare’s Support Team have listened to suggestions and ideas for improving the interface as well.

What does the future hold for Ask a Librarian Delaware?

In the future we plan to explore more options for visibility of the Ask a Librarian DE service.  The widgets are easy to create and implement on library websites and anywhere Delaware patrons are online.  Our only challenge is to work with those in charge of the sites; sometimes there are hurdles with website restrictions, depending upon the library or institution.  Springshare’s products are well established and their reputation is rapidly growing, however, so it’s just a matter of time.

We enjoy providing professional and fun options for all our library patrons and students and look forward to serving our Delaware community in ways that fit their needs, where they are and when they need it.

New Castle County Public Library

New Castle County Public Library – LibAnswers Search FAQ Widget

LibAnswers 2.4 Update – LibChat Updates and Consortial Shared Systems

LibAnswers 2.4 is coming this weekend! This update will include improvements both large and small. We’re planning to roll this update out at 8:00am EDT this coming Saturday, May 30th. There will be no downtime for the overall LibAnswers system, with the exception of several minutes of downtime for users currently logged in to LibChat. Read on for more information about this exciting update!

LibChat Operator Screen Update

We’re in full-on spring cleaning mode, and the LibChat Operator Screen is our latest target. The upcoming interface update is a clean, modern dream – check it out:

sopSleek, right? The new design incorporates a lot of frequently requested features, plus some things we cooked up ourselves, including:

  • Redesigned Alerts – We know it can be tricky to scan the page when tons of new chats are coming in, so we’ve updated the look of all incoming notifications and alerts to make the information more scannable and easy to read.
  • Selective Queue Notifications – We expanded the “Receive alerts for incoming LibAnswers tickets” feature – now, you can choose to receive notifications for specific LibAnswers queues.
  • Responsive Improvements – The operator screen has been optimized so it looks great on any device.
  • Better Chat Window Resizing – We’ve improved the resizing capabilities of the chat window in the Operator pane

Consortial Shared Systems

We’re rolling out a brand new option in this update – it’s not as obvious as the LibChat Operator redesign, but trust us, it’s got some extremely exciting implications. 🙂 We’re introducing a new way to connect your LibAnswers v2 system to another v2 system – what we’re calling Shared Systems. Once you’re joined up for sharing, you’ll be able to create chat departments and LibAnswers queues that are shared between the systems, so librarians at either site can claim, answer, and transfer questions back and forth.

There are a ton of potential uses for this new sharing functionality, but a big one is Consortiums, where multiple libraries staff a shared answering service. With this update, librarians in separate LibAnswers systems will be able to monitor and claim chats from a shared chat department, transfer live chats to librarians in other LibAnswers systems, and transfer tickets to Queues in other LibAnswers systems. In our next update, we’ll be adding shared Queue monitoring, so librarians in separate sites can monitor and answer tickets from the same Queue. It’s sharing at it’s finest!

The new Shared Systems feature is pretty awesome in Consortium setups, and it’s even more awesome if your library uses a separate service to staff your chat department in the off-hours. This update makes it super easy to create chat widgets that connect to your local library by default, but if no one from your local library is available, connect to the off-hours service. Best of all, we’ve also updated our statistics (shoutout to the data nerds!), so you can see all the relevant statistical data on shared chat departments, transfers, etc. regardless of which system answered.

If you’re ready to get sharing with another site on the LibAnswers v2 platform, just send an email to our support team to get the sharing party started. 🙂

Other Updates

  • LibChat API for Online/Offline Status – We’ve heard some rumblings from folks in the tech community that you’d like even more flexibility when it comes to designing your own widgets, so we’ve added a new API for detecting your LibChat service’s online/offline status.
  • Queue-level Macros & Views – We’ve also added more flexibility for queue-level administrators – now, they can create macros and views that apply for all users with access to that queue.

LibAnswers 2.3.1 Coming Soon!

LibAnswers 2.3.1 is coming this weekend! This update will include improvements both large and small. We’re planning to roll this update out at 8:00am EDT this coming Saturday, April 18th. There will be no downtime for the overall LibAnswers system, with the exception of several minutes of downtime for users currently logged in to LibChat. Read on for more information about this exciting update!

New LibAnswers Spam Filters

We’ve been hearing from folks recently that there’s been an uptick in the amount of spam submissions being sent to some LibAnswers sites. No one hates spam more than us, so we’ve introduced a brand new, laser-focused bayesian spam filter to help combat the spammy forces of evil.

This new filter went into effect this week in advance of the update, so hopefully you’re already seeing the benefit of the new spam-fighting filter. To view the effects, check out the Spam tab in your LibAnswers dashboard. Keep an eye on the Spam tab in the coming weeks – the new filter learns from you as you mark tickets as spam/not spam, so the more information it receives, the better it gets!

spamtab1

(And for you folks who haven’t upgraded to LibAnswers v2 yet, rejoice – the new spam filter is active in both LibAnswers v1 and v2!)

LibChat Under-the Hood Update

We’re planning a major update to the under-the-hood technology used to power LibChat. This update will offer a big improvement for sites who occasionally report an incorrect online/offline widget status. These changes won’t be obvious to LibChat operators immediately, but in addition to improving the currently online/offline widget behavior, they’ll also form the base for new improvements and features down the road!

IMPORTANT: Due to this update, the LibChat service will *briefly* go offline for several minutes at 8:00am EDT on Saturday morning. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Updated Question Form Builder

We’re updating our question form builder to use a more graphics-based interface! The new form builder includes several nice to have updates, including:

  • New layout orientations
  • More customizable form sections (each section can include a title and intro text, and sections can be easily reordered)
  • Tracking User Agent & IP info has been segmented into their own fields

Admins, once the update rolls out, head to Admin > Queues > Edit Queue > Question Form to check out the new builder.

Keep an eye out, these new updates will be coming to you this weekend!

LibAnswers v 2.2 update now live!

We’re excited to announce the LibAnswers v2.2 update – now live for all LibAnswers v2 sites!

Systems & Status Management Now Available!

The all new Systems & Status Management Tool is now available in the LibAnswers v2 platform! We are very pleased to offer this amazing new module to all LibAnswers Platform clients for free during the 12 months from January to December 2015. If you find this module useful (and we are confident you will – it is the best and the most cost-effective way to keep track of various library systems and inform your community about the status of each) your 2016 renewal will increase marginally (by a few hundred dollars) in order to cover the costs of additional server resources/maintenance of the new functionality. For the exact amount of the price increase (which is based on FTE) head to Systems Status Management > Settings > Module Information & click “See pricing details” for the full breakdown.

If you don’t want to use this new tool, no problem – from that same screen, just set the Module Status to Disabled, and your renewal price remains the same. You’ll miss out on some really useful functionality at the best price you’ll ever find, but we won’t hold it against you. 😉

For more help getting started with this shiny new tool, head over to our Support Guide for extensive configuration instructions.

LibChat Updates

  • DeptopselectWaterfall Chat Widgets – aka Fallback widgets, create chat widgets that check for the presence of individual librarians and/or departments, according to the order you define. Just create or edit a chat widget and select Options > Department/Operator Selection, and create the sequence of “Options” you’d like to see. This makes it possible to set up a sequence like: If Sarah is online, connect new chats to Sarah; if not, connect new chats to the Reference Department; if Reference isn’t online, connect to anyone in the library.
  • Department + Personal Chat Widget Management Combined – We’ve streamlined the admin UI, so you can manage both personal and department/system chat widgets from one place! To manage all of your chat widgets, head to LibChat > Chat Widgets:
    • Admin level users can create & edit widgets for any department or user
    • Regular level users can create & edit their own widgets
  • Streamlined Queue/Chat Department Connections – We’ve made it way easier to associate LibAnswers Queues with LibChat Departments! Admins who create (or edit) a department will see the option to assign this department to a Queue. When a department is assigned to a Queue, all users assigned to that Queue are also assigned to that chat department, and Queue level administrators receive department-level administrative access.
  • Department Canned Messages – Create canned messages and share them with everyone assigned to a chat department. Head to Admin > LibChat Set-up > System Canned Messages – add or edit a message, and you’ll see a new option to assign the message to a department.
  • New Department Stats – We’ve added a new report to show you the breakdown of chats by department. Head to LibChat > Statistics > Clients/Operators to find the new report.

More Awesomeness

  • copywidgetCopy Widgets – Are your LibAnswers & LibChat widgets highly customized? We’ve made it easier to create new widgets using an existing widget as a base – just head to any widget management screen – in the Actions column, select Copy Widget. This creates a brand new widget based on the old widget, which you can customize to your hearts content!
  • Improved Selectors & Menus – This one is especially for sites managing large numbers of “things” – lots of user accounts, or lots of queues, chat departments, etc. We’ve improved the selector options across the admin interface so you no longer have to scroll through endlessly long lists of “things” to find the thing you’re looking for – now, you can search the list’s content and even select multiple list options when appropriate.