Tag Archive for LibAnswers

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 Update Now Live!

The LibAnswers 2.6 Update went live earlier today, and we have several big time-saving collaborative features to share!

Answer new SMS Messages in LibChat 

We’re introducing a big +1 for librarians who staff your real time patron communication channels, aka Chat and SMS – you can now monitor and reply to SMS messages directly from within the LibChat Operator Pane!

In LibChat, SMS messages will appear in blue – claim the SMS just like you’d claim a normal chat message, and you’ll see the new SMS answer pane:

Chat Activity

 

This new interface makes it much easier to keep up with the fast and furious pace of SMS/text conversations. You’ll still have access to all of the tools we offer to help answer SMS questions, including previous message history and canned messages.

Ticket Page Updates

Speaking of fast and furious, we’re making it much easier to keep up with high velocity conversations happening on the LibAnswers ticket answer page, thanks to several key features:

  • Auto-updating Answer Page – Now, when you view the ticket answer page, new patron replies, replies from other librarians, and internal notes will appear without your needing to refresh the page. 
  • “[username] is also viewing this ticket” – You’ll now see a live on-screen alert when another LibAnswers user is viewing the same ticket you’re working on! This is especially helpful in larger organizations trying to prevent duplicate work – just keep an eye out for the small blue alert message to see who else is interested in the ticket you’re working on!
  • Forward Question into LibAnswers – Let’s say a patron emails your personal email, but the message really belongs in your LibAnswers system. Just forward that email to your LibAnswers email address without additional comment – now, LA will be able to identify the original sender’s name/email address & will create a ticket based on that contact info.

Additional Updates

  • Sound On for LibChat Widgets – You can now create LibChat widgets with sound alerts set to “on”, so your patrons will receive audio alerts for new messages you send.
  • API Filtering based on Keyword – You can now filter API calls based on the internal keywords added to FAQs.
  • Next Button for Chat Transcripts – Reading through many transcripts? We’ve added a “Next” button in the transcript viewer to help you read through faster.
  • Ticket Filtering Updates – We’ve added several new filtering options to the Knowledge Base Explorer.
  • Filters for Canned Messages – We’ve added a quick typing filter to the Canned Message area in LibChat, so you can quickly find the canned message you need.

As always, thanks to the awesome LibAnswers community for your continued ideas and feedback – we love hearing your ideas!

LibAnswers Update this Thursday

Hello, hi, and howdy! We’re rolling out a LibAnswers update this Thursday, June 25th 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.

This update is focused on making several important under-the-hood updates, so you won’t see any major changes in the UI, functionality, etc., but you will see exciting opportunities! 😉

Remember last month when we told you about Consortial Shared Systems? You know, the awesomeness that allows you to hook up with other, related LibAnswers v2 systems so you can share queues and chat departments (and where we rolled out the chat functionality piece of the equation)? Yeaaaah. That one. Cool, right?

Well this update brings in the big guns with shared Queues. Yup, not only can you band together to answer all patron chats, you can do the same with submitted questions! Librarians in separate sites can monitor and answer tickets from the same Queue. It’s breathtaking.

Interested in Shared Systems? Just use the handy Support tab on the admin side of your site and write to our crack support team to get your sharing party started!

And remember…there will be no downtime for the overall LibAnswers v2 system this Thursday, June 25th at 7:30am EDT, but there will be a minute or two of downtime for users logged into chat, so please plan accordingly.

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.

Announcing “Systems & Services Management” via LibAnswers

Great Customer Service – The Holy Grail

Let’s start with a few important questions:

1. How do you provide effective online help/faqs at the point of need, for the Library’s many systems and services – everything from the Website, to the Catalog, to the Discovery/Search system, to the variety of E-Database and E-book platforms, etc.

2. How do you solicit and manage ideas and feedback from patrons, regarding these Library’s systems? Wouldn’t it be great to know what patrons think of your systems and how to improve them?

3. Last but not least, how do you keep your community informed and up to date about these aforementioned systems? Are any systems having problems at the moment, and if yes what are they? What are the new features? When is the scheduled maintenance? What are the top ideas for improvement?

Your library provides many services via many systems, and the number of these systems & services increases every year. Providing effective help to patrons on how to use these systems, and ensuring patrons’ voices are heard and their product questions answered is essential to the library’s success. Keeping users informed about your systems and services, and receiving feedback – be it ideas, suggestions, praise, or negative feedback, and responding in an organized and timely manner – that’s what great customer service is all about.

How we help you get there

We did what we’ve been doing for libraries since 2007 – clients told us they have a big problem so we developed a tool to help solve it, and delight their patrons to boot! We created this new tool as part of the existing platform libraries already use to answer patrons’ questions – LibAnswers, of course! With the new “Systems & Services Management” functionality inside the LibAnswers platform you can do three new things:

1. Systems Help Widgets: Create product-specific Help widgets (for the Website, the Catalog, the Discovery/Search platform, for any E-Database platforms, E-book platforms etc…), and embed them directly inside the given product. If a patron is in the catalog and they need help, they get catalog-specific help with a click of a button. Need help while using the Discovery/Search platform? Help is right there, along with all other Discovery-related faqs, feedback, etc. You get the idea – you can do this for any product or service within your library. Patron questions & feedback are fed into the LibAnswers dashboard and you answer them like any other question/ticket in LibAnswers. You also get awesome statistics on how much support each product generates.

2. Systems Feedback Manager: These product-specific widgets also have a built-in feedback mechanism for patrons to send feedback, questions, ideas, and praise right inside the product they’re using. It doesn’t get any more convenient than this! And, any idea/feedback/praise goes directly into the LibAnswers dashboard so librarians can organize it and answer (if needed) right from the system they already use to answer patrons’ questions.

3. Systems Status Dashboard: LibAnswers now gives you patron-facing public “status dashboard” pages outlining the status of every library system and service. The status dashboard is also an embeddable widget so you can plug it into any webpage or a blog. The dashboard shows the current status of each system but also goes deeper and shows any new feature announcements, scheduled maintenance times, community top-voted product ideas, etc. Keep your patrons up to date about every library system, in real-time. The “internal” status update posts can be used by library staff for internal communication.

You have to see this in action, it’s going to transform the way you manage your library systems – check out the 5 minute video below (it will open in a new window). We will start rolling out this new LibAnswers functionality over the next few weeks – contact us for more details.

Systems & Services Management in LibAnswers

Systems & Services Management in LibAnswers

New LibAnswers Features Released!

We are very excited to announce a brand-new release of LibAnswers system with tons of new features and improved functionality. The updates went out this past weekend so everything is live already. Here is the rundown of the new stuff:

  1. LibAnalytics. We introduced a new product called LibAnalytics, which borrows from the functionality of the current Reference Analytics module. This is for libraries who require the statistics functionality of the Analytics module but do not need the rest of the LibAnswers system (public q/a, the ability for patrons to ask questions, etc). In LibAnalytics, libraries can define multiple analytics instances – each instance can track up to 10 metadata fields with up to 30 values per field. You can track anything you want with LibAnalytics, i.e. it is not just limited to reference. So, track and analyze away! 🙂 Please contact us if you would like more information on LibAnalytics.
  2. The Reference Analytics module has been expanded to support additional instances as well (just like the LibAnalytics product but this is integrated into LibAnswers).  Now the Reference Analytics clients can define multiple analytics instances (i.e. if you’d like to track statistics at the circulation desk, info literacy sessions statistics, or media desk, etc – you can track anything you’d like). Contact us if you’d like more information on the expanded Reference Analytics module.
  3. The “More Ways to Contact Us” box now has icons/options for phone contact and email contact (previously it only had twitter/sms contact icons). With this enhancement your patrons can easily note how to contact you via the phone or email.
  4. Private questions can now have replies. Emailed answers include a link for the recipient where they can comment/leave a reply to the answer. These replies/conversations are threaded in the View/edit private answer page.
  5. It is now possible to “close” a question without sending an answer.
  6. Linked answers! They are here, at last! When answering a public question you can “link” to an existing answer, so any changes to the original entry will automatically be propagated to all “linked” answers (it works just like linked pages/linked boxes in LibGuides).
  7. Added privacy/access control options. Now you can put your entire system behind an IP access/address range, or you can password-protect access to the entire system. There is also a new option to disallow search engine indexing.
  8. Improved QuerySpy interface. QuerySpy is the unsung hero of LibAnswers – people love it and for a good reason. Now it’s easier to use – you can delete entries from the grid, set date range filters, export data to excel, etc. Check it out – it’s cool!
  9. Improved “Comments” for q/a pairs. Comments can now be edited directly from the admin interface. Logged in users’ comments are approved automatically, and you can automatically send an email to the original questioner, with the text of the comment.
  10. “Change Topic” dropdown now appears on the homepage, to enable visitors to easily browse the list of topics.
  11. “Featured Questions” box on the homepage – now you can customize which questions will appear on the homepage (this works just like the featured guides box in LibGuides).
  12. Improved mobile interface – you can now set the default text inside the “Ask us” box in the mobile interface.
  13. The “success” message on the question form submission page is now fully customizable.
  14. Emailed answers now explicitly note if there is multimedia (videos, or attached files) associated with the answer, and point the email recipient to the anchored page where they can view this multimedia.
  15. To see other questions from the same email address you can click on the email address in the “Unanswered” tab or click the link next to the email in the answer/edit page for the individual answer.
  16. Link checker! Yes, you read it correctly, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. Link checker is now available in LibAnswers, too – it will periodically (twice a month) check the validity of links you included as part of your answers.

Phew, that’s a lot of new stuff, so check it out when you get a chance and, as always, please let us know what you think. Thanks to everybody who contributed their ideas, comments, suggestions, testing, and blood sweat and tears which went into developing this awesome new LibAnswers release.

Visual Data Analyzer for LibAnswers Reference Analytics

We have a new, incredibly useful, report available for the LibAnswers Analytics module – the Visual Data Analyzer. It enables you to create custom X/Y Charts for any combination of metadata values, for even greater insight into how your reference service *really* works. Yes, you heard it right – now you can pick any two parameters in your reference tracking metadata (i.e. the stuff you decided to track and record for your reference transactions) and get a visual representation of the relationship between them, in real time.

For example, What is the breakdown of patron types who asked their question at the Reference desk? Check. How long did the transactions take at the Circulation desk? Check. For Undergraduate students, what is the distribution of Method for asking the question (live ref, sms, email, chat, etc)? Check. How about for Faculty? Check again. We can go on and on about the endless possibilities for using this cool new reporting tool – the only limits are your imagination and the number of metadata fields you track. Previously, this type of insight was only available to you if you were a master of excel pivot tables and were able to import your reference data into excel  and then spend hours messing with the pivot tables every time you waned  to see a new angle on your data.

Now, anyone can just log on to LibAnswers Analytics and with few clicks get beautiful charts for any combination of data *in real time*. If you couldn’t tell from the tone of this blog post, we are obviously super-excited about this new Analytics feature. Once you try it out we think you will be too. Simply select the “Visual Data Analyzer” option from the Analytics tab and off you go.

Big thanks to Anthony @ LaTrobe University (our long-time client) for giving us the idea for this feature and helping us implement it. We have the best clients in the world! Keep the good ideas and feature suggestions coming.

Introducing LibAnswers Analytics (Beta)

Since we introduced LibAnswers at the Chicago ALA, pretty much everybody who has seen the system has been blown away (in a good way 😉 ).  LibAnswers is the new, web 2.0 approach to online reference. Patrons can ask questions using natural language and the system will automatically suggest answers, the knowlege base can be queried and the questions can be asked from anywhere via widgets (i.e. from any web page, from courseware systems, from any blog, even from Twitter). The patron is notified via email when their submitted question has been answered. Librarians can embed videos and attach documents to answers. People can comment and improve answers. The statistics reports give a real-time insight into what questions are being asked (the super-awesome QuerySpy) etc. In short, the list of jaw-dropping features is impressive, and the positive buzz is well deserved.

But, what if you could combine LibAnswers web reference with other means of reference (in person, telephone, IM, sms, etc)? What if you could get an in-depth insight into the overall reference usage patterns and the types of questions being asked across all your reference service points? What if you could build a knowledge base of *all* reference transactions, regardless of the method or where the questions are asked? What if, with just a few clicks, you can see how many questions were asked by undergraduates at the Information Commons area in October? Or, How many questions were asked by faculty, for equipment request, during the last semester? How many Catalog Help questions were asked at the Reference Desk? How many questions are asked on weekends? At 8pm on weekdays? What if you could not only know how many questions were asked for any given set of parameters, but also see *what the questions were*?

And, what if all this was available in one easy to use, affordable, web based system which unifies all your online and off-line reference? You know where we’re going with this…  Santa’s been good to you this year… because all this is now possible with LibAnswers Analytics. Yes, Virginia, LibAnswers can now be your one-stop-shop for all reference statistics, complete reference knowledge base, analytics reports, and more. A whole lot more!

We have prepared a LibGuide (what else?) describing the new LibAnswers Analytics module in detail, so please jump to http://help.libguides.com/libanswers-analytics and check it out. Then, log on to your LibAnswers system, click on the Analytics tab and prepare to be impressed. We should mention that this is the Beta release of the Analytics module so if you encounter a bump or two please let us know and we’ll take care of it asap.

The module will be available for licensing to all our existing and future LibAnswers clients starting in January. As always, we are eager to incorporate your feedback and make the Analytics module even more powerful, so let us know what you think – support@springshare.com.

New QuerySpy Statistics Reports in LibAnswers

The QuerySpy feature is probably the unsung hero of the LibAnswers system. It enables you to see the question/query activity in your system, i.e. what people  are typing and searching for, in real time.

Seeing the QuerySpy in action reveals its amazing benefit. Many clients tell us the QuerySpy feature itself is worth the whole price of LibAnswers. After all, knowing what questions people don’t submit and what they are searching for is just as important as the questions they do submit, because then you can have the full picture about the information your visitors want to know, and add those missing questions/answers to the knowledge base. This way, future visitors will be able to find this information and your LibAnswers knowledge base will be that much better and more targeted. This is the main point of LibAnswers – for everybody to benefit from knowing answers and information which was previously asked/searched for in LibAnswers.

Today we are announcing even more query analysis tools – the full Query Spy Statistics Reports. Under the Statistics tab select “Query Spy Statistics” to see the new reports. Now you can see the breakdown of queries by month, as well as the daily and hourly query distribution. This information tells you when your system is being used the most, in addition to knowing exactly how many queries were entered every month, and how many were successful (direct matches), unsuccessful (the information was not found), and also how many queries resulted in question submissions.

Here is the sampling of the new reports:

Monthly Breakdown of Queries

Monthly Breakdown of Queries

Daily Distribution of Queries

Daily Distribution of Queries

Hourly Distribution of Queries

Hourly Distribution of Queries

For those of you who do not have LibAnswers yet, but want to see the new QuerySpy features in action, send us an email to demo@springshare.com and we will create an admin account for you on our live trial/demo system at http://demo.libanswers.com.