Archive for LibChat

“We’re All In, Because It’s Easy”

..says Andrew Adler, director of the Georgetown College Library, when asked why the Library is using the entire platform of Springshare tools.

Andrew, like most librarians, wears a lot of hats. From teaching library instruction, manning the reference desk, creating training tutorials for student workers, and being available nine hours a week for one-on-one research consultations, plus being the director for the entire library – he needs their web platform tools to just work and be easy to use“.

LibGuides CMS-Powered Website w/ Integrations

Georgetown College Website

LibGuides CMS allows for seamless integration with Springy Tools

The Georgetown College Library uses the entire Platform of Springshare Tools – and they use LibGuides CMS to power their Library Website.

“Things got a lot easier when we moved our website to LibGuides CMS.”

On their library homepage, an embedded LibCal Hours widget automatically updates to display today’s hours… no manual updating needed.

Their reference services are prominently showcased, with embedded LibAnswers LibChat widgets promoting their live reference assistance and a customized Ask Us form that routes all queries right into their LibAnswers ticketing queue.

All library forms, from a book purchase request form to reporting a catalog error are created and stored using LibWizard. In an effort to streamline work processes, their library student application is a LibWizard form! This way, librarians only have to go to one place, LibWizard, to view all form submissions.

Student Worker Training

Student Worker Training

Informing & Training Student Workers

All library student employees are trained using a combination of LibGuides with embedded LibWizard tutorials. Talk about making your tools work for you!

Circulation Student employees access the Circ Dashboard LibGuide when they sign into the circ desk computers.

From here, they can easily view their work schedules via LibStaffer, access library quick links, and take interactive training with LibWizard tutorials.

Since they’ve already used LibWizard to submit their student application forms, the process is consistent and seamless. As Andrew said, “everything they need – put in one spot”.

Andrew presented at the October 2016 SpringyCamp on training student workers using LibGuides and LibWizard. View Andrew’s presentation and download his slides.

Geogetown College Circulation Desk LibGuide

Student Circulation Dashboard LibGuide

LibWizard Tutorial

LibWizard Interactive Tutorial used to train student employees

Georgetown Staff Directory

Staff Directory LibGuide Powered by LibAnswers FAQ Widget

Using Widgets Makes It Easy to Maintain & Share Info

Even the library’s staff directory is a product of integration.

Andrew maintains the Library Staff directory as a published LibAnswers FAQ, making it easy for anyone searching the FAQ database to find staff email addresses and phone numbers. But, what if they’re not in the FAQ database? How do they find that information?

Easy!

Simply embed that Staff Directory FAQ as a widget into any webpage, including their LibGuides CMS-powered website. This way, Andrew only has to update the directory in one place, the FAQ, and watch those updates trickle down to everywhere it’s been embedded. The same consistent information is easily syndicated across multiple platforms and is easy to maintain from one central location.

Wait, What About Faculty?

 

LibCal Booking form

LibCal My Scheduler IL-Booking Form

Andrew wanted to create an online process where faculty could request library instruction as quickly and efficiently as possible. Email wasn’t cutting it, creating a lot of unnecessary back and forth. Plus, the Library maintains access to several IL-Classrooms so pointing faculty to a room reservation system would have required that Faculty know which room to request and when.

Using an outside-the-box solution, Andrew repurposed their LibCal My Scheduler as a tool for faculty to book library instruction. Most libraries use the My Scheduler tool to coordinate and schedule one-on-one research consultations. But Andrew saw it as a way to streamline their IL-Booking process. Faculty select their preferred date and time, and share their session preferences and class notes to ensure that the instruction is as targeted as possible – for the student’s benefit. Andrew receives the request, selects the appropriate classroom, and it’s all done…in just a few clicks. Easy-peasy.

These IL-Instruction Stats, and all stats from their Springshare tools, are automatically funneled into their LibInsight data gathering tool. From here, Andrew can run reports on how many classes were taught last semester, hits they had on their Library Website, and chats/texts/email reference questions they received.

Plus, using LibInsight’s Gate Counts Dataset, Andrew is able to view how many people are in the building – updated to the most recent hour. This data allows them to make staffing changes to their service desks based upon actual library traffic data. “It’s important for us to understand our student’s point of need and work to meet that need.”

 

LibInsight Gate Count Dataset

Gate Counts Data

LibInsight Gate Counts Data

Every year, Andrew meets with the Georgetown College Provost to cover the library budget. As is typical at these meetings, every line item is scrutinized. Andrew makes it clear that their use of Springshare tools are an essential library service.

“The Library couldn’t function without it – it’s our website, our research guides, our reference service tool, or reservation tool, and so much more. — Andrew Adler

LibAnswers 2.12.0 Encryption Update Now Live

Exciting news for LibAnswers subscribers, especially for those of you who are concerned about ensuring patron privacy (so, everyone, right?? 😉 ) – in today’s release, we’re rolling out encryption for key patron identifying information as it’s being stored in the LibAnswers database (aka “at rest”). This is one more step in our continuing efforts to ensure that patron data is safe and secure.

Patron Data Encrypted At Rest

Your patrons’ email address and SMS numbers are now encrypted as they’re being stored in the LibAnswers database, as long as they’re in fields that we know to contain email and SMS numbers, ie this does not yet apply to information shared in the text of a patron’s reply. There’s nothing you need to do to opt in to this change – as of this morning, all key patron email addresses and SMS numbers have been encrypted. This also won’t impact your ability to see the “history” of transactions with specific patrons or to run statistics.

Additional Bug Fixes

While testing for the big Encryption update, we ran into a few small bugs which we squashed like Godzilla. Here’s the rundown:

  • Reply Editing – Sometimes patron replies that are submitted into the system can either show up as too long (where they include the entire reply thread in a single reply), or too short (where a key piece of information gets cut off). To help with these, we’ve added a new option to edit the patron’s reply, so you can simplify or clarify individual patron replies. To do this, head to any ticket with patron replies, click the cog icon on a particular reply, and select “Edit Reply” – this will bring up the text of the original patron reply alongside a rich text editor, which you can use to edit the reply’s content.
  • Manage Assets: Edit File & Click Filename – We noted a couple of small issues on the Manage Assets screen, where clicking on an asset’s title didn’t do anything (instead of loading a preview of the file as intended), and editing a file lead to some pretty odd errors. We’ve squashed both of these issues – to see the fixes in action, head to Admin > Manage Assets.
  • Chat Widgets Now Load via HTTPS – This has been an optional setting for LibChat, but in this update we’ve streamlined things so that chat widgets now load via HTTPS by default, so patron chats load via SSL right from the get go.
  • Systems Status Management: Image Manager – We realized the image manager icon was missing from the product description field – oops! This is now back – Admins, head to Admin > System Status Management > Edit Product and you’ll see it’s back.
  • API Issues:
    • There was a minor issue where the search API was not properly returning the total number of results, which we’ve since quashed.
    • There was also an issue where adding an IP restriction for the API wasn’t being applied properly to widget – this is also fixed.
  • Accessibility Updates:
    • We’ve added an aria label to the hamburger menu (visible when viewing a site on a mobile device).
    • For screenreaders, we’ve added aria-hidden=true to the hidden input for the typeahead widget, as it was causing accessibility errors.

LibAnswers 2.10.0 Now Live!

We’re continuing the update party throughout January, and this week we’re bringing you the LibAnswers 2.10 release. From drag and drop file uploads to a new bulk edit / delete / apply macro option, there’s lots to love in this update! Let’s get to it…

Bulk Updates for Tickets

BulkEditThis has been a hugely popular request, and we’re thrilled to be bringing it to you just in time for Spring – Administrators can now make bulk edits to LibAnswers tickets from the Dashboard and from the Knowledgebase Explorer! This impacts all sorts of edits and changes – everything from adding a new tag to a group of tickets, to sending several patrons the same message by applying a Macro, to changing the status of a group of tickets from “Open” to “Pending” – our new bulk changes feature will have you updating tons of tickets in no time. 🙂 To start making mass updates, Admins can head to the Dashboard or Knowledgebase Explorer and select the Actions dropdown.

Temporary Trash Bin

TrashCanOne of the elements of the new Bulk Ticket Update feature is the ability to delete multiple tickets at once en masse – an exciting feature for sure, but one that could use a bit of a safety net to help cover itchy trigger fingers. That’s why we’ve also added a new Trash Can feature, to help with those potential accidental deletions.

Here’s how it works: Any ticket deleted from the Dashboard or Knowledgebase Explorer is sent to the temporary Trash Can. Tickets will remain in the Trash Can for 30 days before being automatically (and permanently) deleted. Admins can access this Trash Can by heading to Admin > Manage Trash Can – from there, you can view all trashed tickets, recover tickets (which rescues them from the Trash Can), or permanently delete tickets.

Drag and Drop File Uploads

DragDropContinuing the theme of convenience, we’ve got another big feature in this update – we’re adding drag and drop file uploads on both the public and administrative sides of the system! We’re reducing the number of clicks required when uploading files for both patrons and librarians by adding a super simple drag and drop file uploader to all of the places where you can upload files in LibAnswers, including the Question Form, Ticket Reply pages, and in LibChat for both patrons and chat operators. To upload a file up to 20 MB, just grab the file from your desktop and drag it into the uploader. Of course if you prefer, you can still click on the uploader to choose a file from your desktop.

Additional Updates

  • We’ve made it a bit easier to view the history of interactions with a patron on the ticket answer page. At the top of the page, you should now see a link for (History) next to the patron’s name – click it to view all past interactions with that patron.
  • We’ve made a couple of minor adjustments to how search works, to ensure that all content in a ticket is indexed, and to make sure that the autocomplete functionality is working properly.
  • We now support SPF DNS records for sending email using custom email domains (ie non-*.libanswers.com email domains) out of LibAnswers. Admins can head to Admin > Queues > Edit Queue > Email > Custom Outgoing Email Address for more information on the new options.
  • We fixed a minor bug where clicking “Add Question” from QuerySpy wasn’t auto-populating the question information into the Create FAQ page (now it does!).

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