Global Public Chat Cooperative: Helping Your Community 24/7

As librarians, you’re there to help your communities improve their access to information and resources, no matter their life circumstances. But “pandemic life” has stretched on for over seven months now, and while public libraries have adapted quickly, increases in new cases could mean sudden closures or service changes again. Curbside delivery tools like Pickup Manager provide an important link to patrons, and online reference tools like email, and even better, live chat, are becoming the most visible way to show you’re open and there to help them. Libraries are also finding that if there’s a chat option on their website, patrons will use it!

We also can’t forget that typically when times are tough, usage of the library goes up as people need help with resumes, job seeking, government assistance applications, small business resources, and free services and sources of entertainment they can’t otherwise afford. So while the library building may be closed, have shorter hours, or limited capacity – its community may need it more than ever.

Denver Public Library, a large multi-branch system in Denver, Colorado, and Arlington Heights Memorial Library, a single branch library located in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, have both dealt with closures and unexpected shifts in services during the pandemic. And with established 24/7 chat services plus backup Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative support, we asked them to share how 24/7 chat has impacted their ability to help patrons during the pandemic, and what they’re seeing so far with chat trends and community needs.

Serving public library staff and patrons 24/7 with live chat + cooperative support

Before we dive into their experiences, let’s introduce the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative (Co-Op) for those who may be unfamilar with it! It’s how you can show patrons you’re there for them, even during the late hours after their kids are finally in bed, they’re done with work, and/or they’ve finished taking care of a loved one. With true global coverage, it can ensure your patrons can get help 24/7/365 from a professional MLS-degreed librarian. We even have a dedicated Public Library Cooperative made up of librarians with extensive experience helping public library patrons!

Springshare also provides different contribution options, so you can choose to help out in the Co-Op and receive backup assistance when you need it — or choose to only benefit from Co-Op support! The Co-Op uses the same widgets as local library LibChat, so there’s minimal extra setup when it’s added on.

A few weeks ago we shared just how busy chat traffic – and our Springshare 24/7 librarians – have been this fall. But while we can talk trends and numbers all day, it’s our customers’ experiences that bring home how a service is helping their library, staff, and communities during these difficult and uncertain times.

Helping anyone, any time of day, at Denver Public Library

A bit about Denver Public Library from Frank Wilmot, Senior Librarian, Reference Services:

  • Denver Public Library (DPL) is a busy 26 branch library system and has been providing chat support since 2013 with OCLC’s QuestionPoint. We transitioned to the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative in May 2020 after Springshare acquired QuestionPoint.
  • Our chat and email service are primarily staffed by the Reference Services department (Central Library) along with a handful of other departmental and branch librarians who provide one or two hours per week.
  • The Global Public Cooperative supports DPL constantly! The cooperative helps its customers 24/7/365 but primarily when DPL librarians are not staffing. When the chat service gets extra busy, when staff are in meetings, or even if and when there’s a fire drill, the public cooperative continues to support us and our customers.

Are you noticing any recent trends in patron questions and traffic numbers?

Chat traffic is up! At the end of September 2020, chats are up 41.7% over 2019. Obviously, 2020 has been an unusual year and when comparing Q1 2020 to Q2/Q3 when our buildings were closed, the monthly average still increased by 25.6%.

How have the cooperative added value to your existing chat services? Any surprising benefits?

We have been part of QuestionPoint’s 24/7 cooperative and now Springshare’s Public Co-Op since 2013. The cooperative has added value to our chat service since the beginning!! When chat traffic is too busy or if it’s late at night or early in the morning, we know that our customers will still get one-on-one assistance from a trained librarian with lots of information about our services and access to our resources. Since we joined LibAnswers, 22.5% of our chats have been answered by cooperative librarians. These are questions that may otherwise have been unanswered.

The LibAnswers software also makes it extremely easy for DPL staff to follow up with Denver customers and to strengthen the connections between the library and our customers.

When chat traffic is too busy or if it’s late at night or early in the morning, we know that our customers will still get one-on-one assistance from a trained librarian with lots of information about our services and access to our resources.

How has 24/7 chat support helped your library system transition services during the pandemic?

For a few weeks in March and April, when buildings were closed and before we started curbside services, the only way to communicate directly with library staff was via email and through our Ask Us chat service. Building closure was complete and abrupt, but because of the Global Public Cooperative, there wasn’t a single moment of interruption in at least one channel of communication and connection between the DPL and our customers. On a Sunday in March, DPL Reference staff were only able to provide chat service to our customers until 5pm, and while we were figuring out how to staff the service again Monday morning at 9am, the cooperative librarians were there to help answer questions from our customers overnight.

Building closure was complete and abrupt, but because of the Global Public Cooperative, there wasn’t a single moment of interruption in at least one channel of communication and connection between the Denver Public Library and our customers.

What do you think is the cooperative’s role in helping the Denver community? How does it fit into your long-term library services strategy?

DPL’s Vision is “A strong community where everyone thrives” and our mission states “Together, we create welcoming spaces where all are free to explore and connect.” Our Ask Us chat service is easily accessible and discoverable throughout our website and in our catalog. It’s available to anyone and everyone, whether you are in Denver or in another state or country with a question about Denver, Colorado, or the West. It’s available with or without a library card. Chatting with a real person any time of day or night helps us to create and build the connections between the library and our customers.

Maintaining 24/7 support during the pandemic at Arlington Heights Memorial Library

A bit about Arlington Heights Memorial Library from Jolie Duncan, Info Services Manager:

  • Arlington Heights Memorial Library is a single branch library serving a community of 75,000 people northwest of Chicago. We’re also a long-time Global Public Library Cooperative member.
  • We’ve relied on the cooperative to provide back up during all hours, but we primarily need assistance in the evenings and on the weekends after we close. We’ve had to shorten our opening hours by two hours to 8:00pm, and the cooperative now answers chats that come in during that time for our staff.
  • During the pandemic, we continue to have staff cover chat remotely. LibAnswers also provides an easy way to chat with co-workers internally if they need assistance on a chat or need to transfer a chat. 

Are you noticing any recent trends in patron questions and traffic numbers?

It has been interesting to analyze the chat stats and the LibAnswers platform makes it easy to view statistics and identify trends. In the months we were closed, we saw a steep rise in the number of chats, peaking with 1500 chats in June (over 3 times the normal amount)! Clearly, customers are moving to ask us questions virtually. The topics of the chats vary, but we have seen an increase in troubleshooting questions such as ebook help. Since so many librarians use similar databases, they can help troubleshoot for customers.

How has the cooperative added value to your chat services? Any surprising benefits?

The ability to assist customers 24/7 is such a value to our customers. The cooperative librarians can answer so many more questions than you might think. Participating in the cooperative allows us to also learn about other libraries and discover regional differences and similarities. Not only does it provide a great service to our customers, but for our librarians that participate in covering the cooperative queue, it provides them with a more well-rounded experience.  It is a great opportunity to be aware of other libraries’ offerings and keep our skills sharp.

Not only does [the public cooperative] provide a great service to our customers, but for our librarians that participate in covering the cooperative queue, it provides them with a more well-rounded experience.  It is a great opportunity to be aware of other libraries’ offerings and keep our skills sharp.

How has 24/7 chat support helped your library system transition to mainly online services during the pandemic?

24/7 chat has played a crucial role in maintaining customer support during the pandemic. When we closed our doors suddenly in March, chat was the only service we kept going for quite some time. By keeping chat up and running, we were able to provide access to customers so we could troubleshoot, and answer questions, and provide essential information about the library’s closure and level of services.

What do you think is the cooperative’s role in helping the Arlington Heights community? How does it fit into your long-term library services strategy?

Two of our core values are customer service and free and equal access to information and the cooperative supports both values. The ability to provide answers to customers’ questions when they need it vs. when the library is open is a real added benefit. 

When we closed our doors suddenly in March, chat was the only service we kept going for quite some time. By keeping chat up and running, we were able to provide access to customers so we could troubleshoot, and answer questions, and provide essential information about the library’s closure and level of services.


Thank you, Frank and Jolie, for your insightful feedback! We appreciate you being on board with us and sharing your experiences. Having 24/7 patron chat support has enabled you to pivot quickly – and continue to adjust – library services without disconnecting from your communities. And when it comes time to communicating the value of the library at the end of the fiscal year, you’ll have the data to show just how many people you were able to help during this difficult time.

Interested in learning more about the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative? Check out our recent blog post and contact us with any questions!

Pickup Manager is Here!

2020 has been a difficult year. COVID-19 has not only impacted health, but also family life, and work life. Here at Springshare, when the pandemic hit, we quickly pivoted all our development plans to release training, products, and features that you needed right now. First, we rolled out our tips for a remote first world followed shortly after with tips for staying motivated, transitioning to online teaching, and using LibCal to increase online engagement. On the product development side, we released functionality and tools designed to help you better service your users in this ‘new normal’. We released online appointments and events in LibCal with Zoom and MS Teams integration and launched the LibCal Seats module helping building managers reopen their building safely. But we’re not done yet!

In keeping with our commitment to release products, features, and services that help you during this difficult time – we’re proud to announce that Pickup Manager is now available. Pickup Manager helps you streamline the holds pickup process while adhering to your COVID-19 safety guidelines. Patrons can easily request their holds via their ILS, schedule a pickup, and enjoy 2-way SMS/text and chat communication when they’ve arrived. Pickup Manager has so many features to not only make your current day-to-day easier but when COVID-19 is a thing of the past, you’ll wonder how you ever did holds pickup ‘the old way’.

Patrons use LibCal to schedule their pickup which connects to your ILS to sync to their holds information

Want to learn more? Attend a webinar!

We’ve setup four webinars so you can learn more about Pickup Manager. All times are in U.S. Eastern Time. With our recent LibCal update, just click on the change option on the calendar to match your timezone!

Can’t attend?

Register for any session and select ‘Watch Recording’ on the sign-up form. We’ll send you the links to view the recordings as soon as they’re available.

Webinar schedule


How does Pickup Manager work?

  • Patron requests a hold in your ILS. When items are ready, your ILS sends an email with the link to our pickup scheduler.
  • Patron receives email from ILS system with LibCal booking link, they “log in” with their ILS barcode/pin to verify they are who they say they are and then book a spot.
    • Don’t want to integrate your ILS? No worries, we’ll have this covered in a future release.
  • Patron reserves their preferred time & location using LibCal’s easy-to-use booking interface.
    • Don’t want to allow patrons to reserve a spot? No worries, the scheduling component is optional.
  • ‘Today’s Scheduled Pickups’ on the Dashboard helps you prepare today’s items. 
  • When the patron arrives, they SMS/text you (LibChat coming soon!) with a customized keyword. The Pickup Manager recognizes the patron and alerts you of their hold details so you can easily grab and deliver their items. 
  • If needed, you can communicate back-and-forth with the patron about their pickup via SMS/text (LibChat coming soon!) – all from the Pickup Manager dashboard.
  • When the items are picked up, the Pickup Manager marks them as received by the patron in their ILS record, too.
  • Send automated reminder and follow-up satisfaction survey emails.

View patron information

Click to view patron details

Send and view messages

View today’s scheduled pickups and send messages to the patron

View detailed statistics

View detailed statistics of scheduled vs. picked up holds broken down by month, day, and hourly

…And there’s more!

We don’t want to give too much away in this blog post, but we think you’ll be really excited to see Pickup Manager in action! Be sure to sign-up for a webinar, even to receive the recording, to learn more!

Code Release: New LibAnswers, LibCal, LibGuides, & LibInsight features coming your way!

We are rounding into fall here at Springy HQ and have some awesome new features for you to sip with your PSL. These releases are on their way to you next week, and will be live in all regions by the end of the day on Friday, October 9. Read about: LibAnswers | LibCal | LibGuides | LibInsight

LibAnswers

Pickup Manager!

The LibAnswers 2.38.0 release is on its way, and we’re thrilled to bring you the new Pickup Manager as a part of it! This new module–available later this month–is designed to streamline your holds pickup workflows and empower patrons to pick up their library items quickly and safely. The Pickup Manager:

  • Fully integrates with your ILS for streamlined workflows;
  • Works great with LibCal’s Spaces module for designating specific spaces for pickups, and enabling patrons to schedule these at their convenience;
  • Provides great statistics and analytics, helping you increase user satisfaction and improve your holds service; and
  • Just like all other Springy tools, it is affordable.
How Does it Work?
  • Patron requests a hold in your ILS.
  • When item(s) are ready, your ILS sends an email with the link to our pickup scheduler in LibCal. (customized emails from Pickup Manager coming soon).
    • Already a LibCal user? You’ll be able to designate locations in the Admin > Spaces area to connect to the Pickup Manager.
    • Not a LibCal user? No worries, just contact us!
  • Patron reserves their preferred time & location using our easy-to-use booking interface in LibCal.
  • “Today’s Scheduled Pickups” on the Dashboard helps you prepare today’s items. 
  • When the patron arrives, they SMS/Text you with a customized keyword, using your LibAnswers SMS number. The Pickup Manager recognizes the patron and alerts you of their hold details so you can easily grab and deliver their items.
    • Already a LibAnswers user? You’ll designate which SMS number should be connected to the Pickup Manager. You can designate multiple SMS numbers with your Pickup Manager!
    • Not a LibAnswers user? No worries, just contact us!
  • If needed, you can communicate back-and-forth with the patron about their pickup via SMS/Text – all from the Pickup Manager dashboard.
  • Coming Soon: When items are picked up, the Pickup Manager marks the item as picked up in the patron’s ILS record, too.
  • If patrons text that they’ve arrived outside your hours of operation, Pickup Manager automatically texts them back with a customizable message, letting them know that your service is closed for the day.

Upcoming Pickup Manager Sneak Peek Sessions (all times listed are Eastern Time):

Zoom OAuth Integration

Our screen sharing integrations have a new addition:  our Zoom OAuth integration has been approved! If you’re an admin in a site with an existing Zoom account, you’ll no longer need to use the JWT-based authentication option to integrate your own screen sharing credentials. We have lots more help on how to set up this exciting new option available here

Be sure to check out our recorded training sessions!

Also check out the LibAnswers release notes on the Springshare Lounge for more complete information on the contents of this release. [Back to Top]

LibCal

As the seasons have changed, the pandemic has stuck around. Springy tools have been here for you as you’ve launched pickup services and social distancing seat-booking programs. We’ve heard your requests for additional changes, several of which we are pleased to bring you this month. 

Period-Based Booking @ Seat-Level!

We have added support for creating period-based reservations at the Seat level. You can already set up period-based bookings at the Space level and this release provides more granularity. To set this up, you’ll need to designate a location as as “period-based booking.” This means each set of opening/closing hours are considered one bookable slot. Head to Admin > Spaces & Equipment > Edit Location > General for the new “Public Seat/Space Booking page” option to set this up.

Seats API 

We have added new endpoints and updated a few existing ones to support retrieving Seats and occupancy data via our RESTful APIs.  Go to Admin > API to explore these new and modified endpoints. 

  • space/booking/:id – Information about one or more specific bookings in your system
  • space/bookings – List of bookings in your system
  • space/utilization/:id (NEW!) – Current spaces utilization and occupancy data in your system
  • space/seat/:id (NEW!) – Details, including availability details, of a seat in your system
  • space/seats/:id (NEW!) – Details, including availability details, of seats in your system
  • space/zone/:id (NEW!) – Details for a specific zone
  • space/zones/:id (NEW!) – Details for all zones at a location (note this is “zones” plural)

Zoom OAuth

We’re super excited to announce that our Zoom app has been published to the Zoom Marketplace and is available for you to use in Appointments & Events.  If you’re an admin in a site with an existing Zoom account, you’ll no longer need to use the JWT-based authentication option to integrate your own screen sharing credentials.  Navigate to Admin > Integrations > Online Appointments & Events to configure the Zoom integration using OAuth.

Other

We are happy to bring you additional exciting features such as:

  • A date range selection for the Contact Tracer report;
  • the Spaces Booking Explorer will now return Check In/Out details if enabled for a location;
  • much more that can be read about over on the Springshare Lounge.

Upcoming LibCal Training Sessions:

Also check out our recorded sessions! [Back to Top]

LibGuides

We are hard at work behind the scenes designing a new future for LibGuides. We also have an exciting LTI update for you in this round of releases.

We’re making it easier for you to debug LTI searches with the updated Library LTI Page Builder Preview. In LibApps, head to Admin > LTI Tool Builder -> LTI Automagic -> Library LTI Page Builder and click “Preview Page” to see the new “Debug Mode” setting. Check the box and then run a sample search on your LTI metadata value. The debug section will include REGEX information, so if you have a REGEX applied to your search, you will see what the LTI metadata parameter value transforms to.

LTI Debug

Upcoming LibGuides Training Sessions:

Also check out our recorded sessions!

Be sure to check out LibGuides release notes on the Springshare Lounge for more complete information on the contents of this release. [Back to Top]

LibInsight

Easily Import Platforms and SUSHI Providers

We’re excited to introduce the new E-Resources Management page, to facilitate quick import and management of COUNTER 4/5 platform and SUSHI provider information. On this page, you will have the option to import platforms and SUSHI providers using our CSV templates. Go to Admin > E-Resources Management to get started! In a future release, you’ll be able to use this page to view which platforms are in which dataset(s).

E-Resources Management

More Accurate Database Reporting

In an effort to streamline the information shown in COUNTER 5 dataset Database Title Analysis, we inadvertently removed Investigations and Requests from the report display, showing only Searches. We fixed this! So when you do a COUNTER 5 Analysis, then view a Database Title list in a platform, you will see Investigations and Requests for databases, like you did before. Do an analysis on your COUNTER 5 dataset, then go to Databases > Usage > Title Lists and choose a platform to view metrics for Databases contained in that Platform and all their metrics.

In a future release, you’ll be able to see database usage broken down by data type: Total Requests for all Journal content, for all Book content, etc. Note: It’s not possible to drill down from a database into the individual books and journals it contains; you’ll be seeing for example all Requests from all Journal content contained in the database. For individual title use, see the Journals tab.

New: Journals Title-Level Analysis!

The Journals Usage report has a new Title Analysis section that displays the Top 20 Journals, by Total Item Requests, Unique Item Requests, or by total  Denials. Below the graph, you’ll see the Top 10 Titles with Decreasing Usage, and the Top 10 Titles with Increasing Denials. 

Journal Titles

Even better–click on an individual title to view a month-to-month graph of the usage across your analysis period. 

screenshot

We’ve also included these highly-requested features:

  • Delete SUSHI fetched reports within a platform
  • Additional aggregate methods for both custom and gate count datasets for the dashboard charts.

Check out the LibInsight release notes on the Springshare Lounge! [Back to Top]

That’s it for this round of updates from Springy HQ. We would like to thank you, our user community, for sharing all your great ideas with us! We love making them a reality and look forward to bringing you many more improvements. We are always here for you if have any suggestions or questions.

Always Online! Library Chat + Global Cooperative = True 24/7 Service

It’s clear that online learning is becoming a larger part of the student experience so it’s important for the library to keep pace with this trend. It’s been shown that access to the library increases the likelihood of student success. So when patrons need to chat with a librarian online, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to engage with them! It’s great for the patron and great for the library, too. But let’s be realistic – you can’t be there, online, monitoring your chat departments 24/7/365.

Good news though… We can, and we do! Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative has thousands of member libraries and librarians, representing the largest professional reference librarian network in the world. We have true global coverage, and we can ensure your patrons can get help 24/7/365 with a professional MLS-degreed librarian available to help them. Check out our interview below with the team at the University of Liverpool library and how the cooperative helps them serve their patrons successfully on a 24/7 basis.

But first, allow us to share some interesting chat reference statistics from the start of this academic year (for the month of September). These stats show a tremendous increase in reference chat traffic compared to the start of the previous academic year in 2019, demonstrating how much patrons do rely on the library to help them with their studies – especially in the times of COVID-19 when most learning happens online:

  • The LibChat platform handled 379,510 incoming chats in September 2020 – a 182% increase over September 2019.
  • More than 23,000 of these chats were answered on the Springshare 24/7 Global Cooperative platform (i.e. by the Co-Op). Each one of these chats represents a question that would have gone unanswered because the local librarians were busy or offline.
    • 34% of September Co-Op chats were asked over the weekend, showing just how important it is to have seven-day coverage.
  • Our Springshare 24/7 librarians have been busy! They handled more than 60% of all questions that fall back to the cooperative. So if your staff cannot contribute to the Co-Op that’s okay too – we’ve got you covered

Providing Seamless 24/7 Chat Service at the University of Liverpool Library

These statistics provide us with a birdseye view, but what does this mean for an individual library? The University of Liverpool has been a 24/7 library for the last five or so years, and back in March, their physical help desks went virtual, and their staff moved to online chat reference. They were early adopters of the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative, so we checked in with them to see how things were going.

Joe Hilton and Gwen Jones from the University Library were so kind to give us a little insight into how they have their chat services structured so that their students can benefit from “the human touch” of a one-on-one library interaction, any time of the day.

Tell us a bit about your local chat services. How many library staff typically monitor your chat widgets? What days and times are staff available to answer questions before they fall back to LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative chat?

Since the Covid-19 pandemic we have anywhere up to 10 staff monitoring our chat widgets between 9am – 9:30pm Monday to Friday and between midday – 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Before March, we usually had at least two librarians monitoring our chat widgets. Effectively, all of our physical help desk staff went virtual so having LibChat already established as part of our service was a winner in many ways.

What went into deciding when you needed 24/7 cooperative support?

We subscribed to backup chat with QuestionPoint when we became a 24-hour library, and we moved early on to the new LibAnswers Cooperative platform after it was acquired by Springshare. We have a very comprehensive LibAnswers FAQ public knowledge base that works brilliantly but, for true 24/7 support, we believe the human touch is necessary. Deciding what days and times we needed cooperative support was easy. Whatever times we don’t staff it ourselves, we have the co-op step in. Since they use the same widgets, it’s one complete, seamless service.

[B]ut, for true 24/7 support, we believe the human touch is necessary.

Tell us a bit about the students asking questions of Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative librarians and the types of help they’re seeking. Are you noticing any trends in traffic and questions so far?

The kind of queries our students are submitting to the cooperative are not really any different to what we get to our own librarians. I guess the trends depend on what is happening at the time, and the trick is to be fluid and flexible to meet the needs of your audience – and the co-op certainly moves in sync with our audience.

Cooperative librarians do a great job of providing answers for our customers and the customer feedback on the queries they’ve dealt with is overwhelmingly positive. We’ve seen some really excellent answers from the global librarians; we couldn’t have done a better job if we’d picked those up ourselves. Sometimes they’re a little less successful, but there’s always going to be some variation and they can’t do a great deal when it’s something that really requires access to our circulation system or to our IT support systems. But what’s great is that the customer is able to talk to someone 24/7 and it’s really helpful that when global staff can’t deal with it, those queries do get referred to us and customers are given some idea of when we’ll be available again to deal with their query, so they’re not left hanging.

Cooperative librarians do a great job of providing answers for our customers and the customer feedback on the queries they’ve dealt with is overwhelmingly positive. We’ve seen some really excellent answers from the global librarians; we couldn’t have done a better job if we’d picked those up ourselves.

How are you able to provide the information Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative librarians need so they can answer student questions?

We’ve worked hard to create a very comprehensive FAQ knowledge base which we strive to continuously keep the content current. It’s this updating and monitoring that is one of the keys to the service. Irrelevant and/or out of date information is no help to anyone. It’s not rocket science or a dark art or anything. The global cooperative librarians can only work with what you make available to them. As we mentioned, cooperative librarians provide as good a service as our librarians and that is testament to their abilities and what we provide! It is, after all, a partnership and it makes for a seamless service for the students.

How has the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative added value to your existing chat services? Any surprising benefits?

What’s changed is we’re now providing coverage to the Academic Cooperative and I think that has been very successful so far. It’s certainly getting busier there and the numbers have been increasing every month since we started: from getting just 9 cooperative chats in April to 159 in August. Our staff are very happy supporting it, too, and say that it’s helped them develop their skills and that they find the questions from customers of other institutions varied and interesting, so that’s another win in terms of job satisfaction.

How does the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative fit into your long-term library services strategy?

The current climate has highlighted and emphasised the need for robust, high-quality virtual support and LibChat/Co-Op chat has been absolutely vital to us before and especially during the current conditions. If there were any lingering doubts to its value and effectiveness then these have been well and truly squashed. We are looking forward to expanding & developing the service as much as possible, hopefully working with other libraries & Springshare to share ideas and improve the functionality.

The current climate has highlighted and emphasised the need for robust, high-quality virtual support and LibChat/Co-Op chat has been absolutely vital to us before and especially during the current conditions.


Thank you, Joe and Gwen! We appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions. And we agree with you — there’s really no substitute for one-on-one personal interactions, especially during moments of user confusion or frustration. When a chat widget is there and online, people will use it!

Interested in learning more about the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative?

More than ever, 24/7 online library support can ensure your students can get the answers they need when they need them! Let us be there to help. 🙂

Introducing the New (and Improved!) Springshare Lounge

In case you missed the big announcement in our July SpringyNews edition, we launched a new and improved Springshare Lounge! In this ‘new normal’, we wanted to improve opportunities for Springy users to communicate with each other, share how they’re using Springshare tools, and leverage localized expertise.

Since its official launch nine weeks ago on July 27, the Lounge now has over 950 users posting a total of 123 discussions and 257 comments! Posts cover a variety of Springy Tools and topics ranging from how-to type posts to best practices and advice sharing. So if you haven’t yet, join the new Springshare Lounge and get ready for some virtual networking.

Earn Points & Level Up!

Helping your fellow Springy users deserves a reward right? We thought so too! So we added a points system to the new Springshare Lounge.

Earn points when you:

  • Make and comment on posts 
  • Have other users react to your posts 
  • Earn badges 

As you earn points, your level will increase, and the number of stars on your profile will increase.

Here are the levels and the point totals to reach them: 

  1. Springy Initiate: Everyone starts here! 
  2. Springy Novice: 75 points 
  3. Solid Springy: 200 points 
  4. Springy Expert: 750 points 
  5. Springy Hero: 1750 points 

If you’re wondering, big deal – earning virtual points gets me what? Well, you’re wrong! Earning points actually translates to both virtual and real-world perks!

Not only will achieving higher levels unlock extra lounge features, but the highest levels also opens access to some extra discussion categories as well.

Leveling Up Perks:

  1. Springy Initiate: Start discussions, comment on discussions. Everyone’s got this!
  2. Springy Novice (75 points): You can create polls in your discussions now. Let other lounge users vote on your polls. 
  3. Solid Springy (200 points): Add a signature to your posts if you’d like. Edit your own posts for up to a day for convenience. 
  4. Springy Expert (750 points): Gain the ability to use the “promote” reaction to a post or comment! Doing this will add the comment to “best of”. You also get access to submit posts to the Lounge Help Wanted category to advertise openings at your library.
    • If you come by our booth at a conference, (* offer not valid in 2020, of course) we’ll give you some special Springy merch. 
  5. Springy Hero (1750 points): We are in awe of your contributions and helpful deeds in this community. You’ll get access to Springy Labs to see sneak peeks of things we’re working on, as well as the chance to offer feedback on new designs and development. We’ll also send a thank you card to you, hand-signed by one of the Springy crew to show our appreciation. 

What types of posts will I see in the Lounge?

The Lounge is designed for you, plain & simple! You’ll see posts related to Springy products and topics but that otherwise run the gamut – users asking for help, others posting their ideas and best practices, and even some others putting out a call for research volunteers. Plus, you have the ability to post something as a question, and mark it as answered! This helps future users who search too, because they can see “oh, I have the same question too and it’s got an answer!”

Below are just some of our most favorite posts to date:

So, How Do I Sign-Up?

Good news, you can sign-up to join the Springshare Lounge today! Right now even! Go ahead, we’ll wait. 🙂 Okay, are you back? Let’s continue. 🙂

Joining the Lounge is super-easy! And if you were a member of our old Lounge, you will have to rejoin the new Lounge. It’s really fast and easy, just follow these instructions.

Plus, if you mention that you were a member of the old Lounge when you rejoin, we’ll give you a special badge. Or click here to claim your Original Forum Survivor Badge.

Creating a Profile & Community Guidelines

Once you’ve joined and created your profile, you’ll want to review the Community Guidelines. Like all good online communities, there are some “dos and don’ts”. While we believe that our community of users has a good understanding of online etiquette, reviewing these guidelines is important to get an understanding of the behavior expected in the Springshare Lounge.

… And You’re Off & Running

Once you’ve done the aforementioned items, you’re off and running! Search the Lounge and read some existing posts. Write a comment to an existing post if you have any feedback or an answer you’d like to share. Feel free to post a new discussion or ask a question. If you post a question, don’t forget to mark the post as answered once those comments start rolling in. Customize your notification preferences so you’ll get an email alert when people comment on your discussions or when someone else posts a discussion to a category you’re keeping an eye on. To customize your notifications, go to the Bell Icon > Notification Preferences.

How They Did It: Gwinnett Technical College Welcomes Fall 2020 with LibCal Seats

2020 has been a difficult year, for sure. Most of us are likely ready for it to end so we can flip a page of sorts. However, for the world of Academia, Fall is kind of a new beginning. This fall every student in the country is starting a new year – the academic year – some for the first time and some for their final year of college.

This fall term is brimming with excitement — mixed with anxiety. For the institutions that serve these students, faculty, and staff, there is hope bolstered by careful planning and thoughtful execution. And, while they tell you in school to keep your eyes on your own paper, these days, we need all the great examples we can get. Sharing knowledge in the days of COVID-19 is how we’re going to strategize against its spread and prudently move forward.

Gwinnett Technical College Prioritizes Health & Safety

Director of Library Services, Deborah George, and the library staff at Gwinnett Technical College share answers, valuable experiences, and tips in this LibCal Seats Q&A. You’ll learn how they worked together to welcome everyone back to campus with the knowledge that this fall, like no other, providing peace of mind had to be added to the to-do list.

Gwinnett Technical College Fall 2020 Opening Day

A New Look at Creating a Safe Space

When did you launch your LibCal Seats system? Please share, to date, how many reservations you’ve handled with it.

Gwinnett Technical College (GTC) is a long-time subscriber to Springshare’s LibGuides and other applications. We finalized access to LibCal Seats on August 7, 2020, and launched it to our students on the first day of our Fall, 2020 semester, August 10. As of September 15, we have had over 914 bookings!

What is the main goal you have for your library and what is its big message as you begin the 2020 Fall Term in the midst of this global pandemic?

We want the students to know that their health and safety is important to us. Using a reservation system such as LibCal Seats allows us to monitor the usage of library space and maintain compliance with college-wide, CDC-based safe use requirements. Being able to allow students to visit the library provides much-needed access to library staff and on-campus technology. Faculty refer students to the library for test-taking and library workshops. The email and reservation data can be shared with faculty as necessary.

What are the new challenges the library sees in supporting students and faculty this academic year? Share a bit about the problem-solving process that went into devising your re-opening plans.

GTC already provided remote services with phone, email, and chat. In response to the increased demand necessitated by the pandemic-related campus closures, we were able to greatly increase one-to-one remote services with our Learning Management System and Springshare’s Appointments features. Students can now schedule dedicated reference interviews from any location.

Even with these remote services, several of our students want or need to use the library in person. LibCal Seats allows us to provide access to computers/webcams, printers, and study rooms to those students requesting these services while giving us the ability to monitor overall capacity and adhere to social distancing requirements.

Setting Up Seats & Setting New Expectations

There’s a lot of change this academic year and not just for the incoming Freshmen. How are you sharing the information that appointments and reservations are now required? How is this being enforced?

We are using a multi-faceted approach to marketing our new services. We encourage our department heads to communicate via email with classroom instructors, and we promote access options through the library’s blog post, Facebook entries and signage within and outside of the library spaces. Students are greeted as they enter the library and are asked to confirm or make reservations. Staff roam the library regularly to confirm students are using reserved spaces and following safety measures (masks in place, not moving furniture, etc.) Compliance is near 100%.

QR Codes at the GTC Library

Which features in LibCal Seats are you finding the most useful as you encourage social distancing and monitor the occupancy of your spaces in real-time?

The Booking Explorer provides an overview of space availability for staff and allows us to adjust reservations as necessary throughout the day. The Single Seat viewing grid is displayed on a large monitor just inside the library, so staff and students can easily determine availability.

How did you decide what sorts of booking limits you wanted to impose and what’s the strategy or goal behind them? Are you using padding between reservations? If so, how and why?

Capacity of space was considered when setting booking limits, as well as anticipated foot traffic. Currently, we are adjusting our limits to meet the students’ needs. We started with a one-hour default session length but found that several students were taking online exams and needed longer periods of time. The library is not reaching full capacity, so we extended the default to two hours, to minimize the amount of time spent manually extending sessions. Additional adjusting is easy, and we can make modifications on the spot. We do use the padding between sessions, which allows for cleaning of the stations between use.

Which reports or dashboards are you keeping a close eye on and how are they informing your day-to-day/week-to-week decisions?

We consistently view the Booking Grid to keep an eye on availability and expected use. Occupancy data also gives us an idea of what times the library is being used the most. We expect to use more reporting data as we move through the semester, and really appreciate having the ability to track computer usage and foot traffic now.

Response to LibCal Seats, Tweaks & Tips

What has been the response to LibCal Seats from the library team, the students, the faculty?

GTC Students Book “On the Fly”

Faculty are impressed with the ease of use and are comfortable sharing reservation information with students. Returning students, used to popping into the library and using space on a first-come, first-served basis, initially expressed some frustration with the reservation requirements and multi-step process. Most students use their phones to book, and the screens are not as easy to navigate on smaller devices. However, once the students have made a few reservations the process becomes less time-consuming.

As students understand the reservation process is required to keep our building open for student use, they gladly comply with the expectations. As they realize the process can be completely self-serve, they love being able to check-in by phone.

We simply ask, “Did you get your email?” and most give us a thumbs up and move on to the reserved space.

What sorts of tweaks and adjustments did you make in the first few weeks after implementing LibCal Seats to make it work better for you and your students?

We needed to adjust the default reservation session length since many students have ended up needing to come to campus to take tests since some were not able to use secure testing software on their home computers. Additionally, some student club interviews were scheduled in library study rooms, which allows students without webcams at home to participate in virtual face-to-face interviews.

What sorts of tips would you like to share for those libraries who are at the beginning of setting up LibCal Seats?

Keep in mind your closing time; you may not want to have students making reservations right up to when you lock the doors. Consider how often students can make reservations, and how far in advance. Get feedback and be flexible!


We are grateful for the opportunity to share this interview with Deborah George and her diligent, caring library staff. To say 2020 has been a hard year is an oversimplification to be sure. But sometimes the clearest language is the truest.

Reopening your institutions is a real challenge this year, one that no one is taking lightly. How do we keep your spaces at the library, and all over campus, from unsafely filling with people? Ask them to make a reservation, monitor the occupancy numbers, and make adjustments as necessary. The GTC library shared their experience that — students gladly cooperate because they know it means they can use the library.

They want to use the library. You want to welcome them back. LibCal Seats is instrumental in helping you stay (safely) booked in the days ahead.

Pickup Manager: Coming Early October!

We’ve been hinting, alluding, and finally we officially announced yesterday that we’re releasing the Pickup Manager for scheduling and communicating holds pickup!

This newest tool is coming early October, and is designed to streamline your holds pickup workflows and empower patrons to pick up their library items quickly and safely at their convenience – per COVID-19 guidelines and beyond, too!


Key Points about the Pickup Manager:

  1. Fully integrates with your ILS for streamlined hold workflows.
  2. Works great with LibCal’s Equipment Booking Module for equipment or museum/zoo pass lending.
  3. Provides great statistics and analytics helping you increase user satisfaction and improve your holds service.
  4. Just like all other Springy tools – it is affordable.

Bottomline, you and your patrons are going to love the awesome functionality that Pickup Manager offers and you’ll never want to do holds pickups “the old way” again. 😊

Communicate with ‘Arrived’ patrons via SMS/Texting (Coming: LibChat)

How Does it Work?

  • Patron requests a hold in your ILS.
  • When items are ready, your ILS sends an email with the link to our pickup scheduler in LibCal. (customized emails from Pickup Manager coming soon). 
    • Already a LibCal user? You’ll be able to designate locations in the Admin > Spaces area to connect to the Pickup Manager.
    • Not a LibCal user? No worries, just contact us!
  • Patron reserves their preferred time & location using our easy-to-use booking interface in LibCal.
  • ‘Today’s Scheduled Pickups’ on the Dashboard helps you prepare today’s items. 
  • When the patron arrives, they SMS/Text you with a customized keyword using your LibAnswers SMS number. The Pickup Manager recognizes the patron and alerts you of their hold details so you can easily grab and deliver their items.
    • Already a LibAnswers user? You’ll designate which SMS number should be connected to the Pickup Manager. You can designate multiple SMS numbers with your Pickup Manager!
    • Not a LibAnswers user? No worries, just contact us!
  • If needed, you can communicate back-and-forth with the patron about their pickup via SMS/Text – all from the Pickup Manager dashboard.
  • Coming Soon: When items are picked up, the Pickup Manager marks the item as picked up in the patron’s ILS record, too.
  • If patrons text that they’ve arrived outside of your hours of operation, Pickup Manager automatically texts them back with a customizable message letting them know that your service is closed for the day.

Want the Communication but Not Scheduling Part?

Like with all our Springshare Tools, we like to brainstorm all the potential possible implementations and come up with solutions for everyone. Our Pickup Manager is no different. So if you’re interested in the Communication side, but not the Scheduling component, we’ve got you covered.

Pickup Manager Streamlines Your Workflows, Too!

  • At-a-glance view of holds activity – what is being picked up today, tomorrow, and in the future.
  • Statistics on completed pickups and analytics on popular day/time pickups, late arrivals, etc.
  • Send reminders to patrons who haven’t picked up their items.
  • (Coming soon) customize the hold notification emails sent to patrons.

Manage Pickups for Everything You Circulate

Pickup Manager also integrates with LibCal’s Equipment Booking Module. Whether your patrons are picking up a book hold or a laptop, camera, museum/zoo pass or really anything from your library-of-things inventory via the Equipment Booking module, the Pickup Manager has you covered.

What More Information?

Early next month, we’ll announce sneak-peek webinars on Pickup Manager on our Sneak-Peek Calendar.

Want to be contacted when Pickup Manager is released? Email sales@springshare.com to be placed on the Early Access list. 

LibCal Mini-Release: Create Multiple-Hour Blocks to Facilitate Cleaning

This release is on its way to you this week, and will be live in all regions by the end of the day on Friday, September 18.

Spaces Locations: Multiple-Hour Blocks Help Facilitate Cleaning

Our pandemic new normal necessitates designated cleaning times to sanitize spaces and seats in between bookings. To facilitate this, we’ve added updates to the Weekly Hours Templates in Spaces/Seats & Equipment! You can now allow for multiple sets of opening/closing hours, with unavailable time in between.

Within these time slots, you can allow users to pick their own hours to reserve Spaces & Seats.  We’ll be adding functionality to make the entire period/block bookable in our upcoming release in early October.

Head to Admin > Spaces & Equipment > Hours Templates and select the ‘Custom Time’ option when creating or editing a weekly template to see the ability to enter multiple opening/closing hour blocks.

We have an upcoming training session that will help you get started! Join us on Tuesday, September 22 at 12:30 Eastern time to learn how to set up flexible or fixed booking times.

See LibCal release notes which will list out a few other changes coming in this release such as a customizable email template for the ‘Late Check In Cancellation’ email and more.

That’s it for this round of updates from Springy HQ for LibCal. We would like to thank you, our user community, for sharing all your great ideas with us! We love making them a reality and look forward to bringing you many more improvements in 2020 and beyond. We are always here for you if have any suggestions or questions.

[UPDATED] Important Browser Notices & Updates

In today’s post, we’re bringing you some important notices about your Internet browsers… specifically Internet Explorer 11 and Chrome. Since Springshare tools are hosted in the cloud and are accessed by web browsers, if you or your patrons are using either of the above browsers… it will affect your day-to-day usage of these tools.

Updated Sep 10, 2020 – we updated the section below on LibAnswers and IE11 compatibility.

Updated Oct 9, 2020 – we updated this post with a section on LibGuides and IE11 compatibility and updated the LibAnswers section to reflect the fact that the October 2020 code release is out.

Updated Oct 19, 2020 – we updated the LibGuides list after more extensive testing within IE11.

Internet Explorer 11 Will No Longer Be Supported as of November 20, 2020

Starting in November through till next year, Microsoft will stop supporting IE11 within their own applications.

Microsoft has since labeled Internet Explorer a “compatibility solution” rather than a browser and encouraged businesses to stop using the aging browser.

Tom Warren, TheVerge.com

To that end, Springshare will stop supporting IE11 for all Springshare Tools (LibGuides, LibCal, LibAnswers, LibInsight, LibCRM, LibWizard, and LibStaffer) during the week of November 16 across all regions.

This does *not* mean every webpage of your whole Springshare tool will suddenly stop working when using IE11. It *does* mean that you and your users may experience additional issues of non-compatibility when using IE11 after the November 16 code release.

LibGuides Users & IE11 [Updated Oct 19, 2020]

There are a few areas in LibGuides that do not fully function in IE11. Additionally, future updates will also affect page display issues in IE11.

  • Guide lists on system and group homepages;
  • Some LibGuides widgets intermittently do not display;
  • Gallery boxes;
  • Search results;
  • System blog and public discussion boards; and
  • A-Z Database pages.

LibAnswers Users & IE11 [Updated Oct 12, 2020]

There are already a few areas of LibAnswers admin interface (not public-facing pages) that don’t fully function in IE11. Additionally, future updates will also affect page display issues in IE11.

  • Currently not working in  IE11: the ability to view chat transcripts; Queue settings tabs and ticket browse page will not work.
  • Upcoming November 2020 release: Current LibChat Operator Console will *not* be able to load in IE11 by the end of the Nov 16 week. We’re launching some awesome new functionality to LibChat, including a new emoji-picker (:wow emoji:), that is not compatible with IE11.

Chrome 86 Security Update

The upcoming Chrome 86 update, slated for release in October, will offer more secure protections for users submitting data on insecure forms. More on this in a moment. First, a reminder!

All Springshare Tools are HTTPS-Required

As a refresher, all Springshare Tools are required to load over HTTPS. If your Springshare Tool ends in a .libguides.com, .libcal.com, .libanswers.com, .libcrm.com, .libinsight.com, libwizard.com, or .libstaffer.com – the ‘S’ in HTTPS is covered by our security certificates.

If your Springshare Tool ends in a custom domain, like .bookings.edu or guides.org, you can use our ‘Let’s Encrypt’ service where we obtain a security certificate for you or obtain your own security certificate.

Bottom line, your Springshare Tools will always load an HTTPS secure connection…. which is great for your staff and end-users because HTTPS helps to thwart intruders from tampering with the communications between your websites and your users’ browsers.

Embedding Unsecure (HTTP) Forms into Your Secure (HTTPS) Springshare Tools

So now that you know that all Springshare Tools are loaded as HTTPS, you’re probably thinking – “Heck, we’re all set… our sites are secure!“. And you’re right, for the basic tool itself. But it depends on what you’ve added to your systems, too! We give you a lot of flexibility in your Springshare tools… especially in ways we encourage you to embed widgets/content from other websites. In LibGuides, you can embed a widget into your guide. In LibCal, you can add a widget to a countdown timer in Calendar Events. In LibAnswers, embed media right into your FAQs.

These options give you awesome flexibility in adding multimedia resources to your Springshare Tools! But it is also possible to embed HTTP (unsecure) content inside your HTTPS (secure) Springshare Tool.

Chrome 86 Update Will Display Warning for Mixed Forms

So now we come back to the Chrome 86 update! If you embed an HTTP (unsecure) form in your HTTPS (secure) webpages, your patrons using Chrome 86 will see a full-page warning about submitting content to an unsecure form.

Chrome Version 86 Will Display Warning of Unsecure Forms

Identifying & Resolving Mixed Content

We recommend that you review your LibGuides, LibCal, LibAnswers, and LibWizard systems to identify widgets/forms that you’ve embedded that could be HTTP insecure. This FAQ outlines some helpful instructions, including how to find HTTP content in LibGuides, as well as a video explaining why HTTPS is important.

As a reminder, Springshare Tools themselves are HTTPS secure. So if you’ve created a LibGuides widget, a LibAnswers/LibChat widget, a LibCal widget, a LibInsight widget, or a LibWizard widget, these widgets are already HTTPS secure. It is better to focus your time and energies on widgets/forms from other vendors.

If you’ve identified forms/widgets that are HTTP unsecure, it is recommended that you contact that vendor directly to obtain an HTTPS secure form/widget. While we’d love to help, we cannot create HTTPS secure widgets/forms for other vendors.

We’re Hiring!

Springshare is hiring!

We’re ready – and excited – to hire some new Springys for our Customer Support, Tech, and Sales teams! 🙂

Have you ever thought about joining the Springshare crew? Know someone who would make a great Springy? We’re looking to hire some customer-focused folks who enjoy learning and sharing, are clear communicators, and thrive in a remote, work-from-home environment.

Customer Support Specialist (entry-level)
(Closed to accepting new resumes at this time.)

As part of our Customer Experience team, a Customer Support Specialist is often the first point of contact for the company, embodying our core commitment to outstanding customer service. This position answers inquiries from clients worldwide on our suite of products. In addition to functionality questions, support troubleshoots things technical in nature, including HTML, CSS, authentication, LTI integrations, and more. Other duties may include helping in other areas related to support, such as documentation. This is an entry-level position with opportunities for professional growth within the company.

Senior Full Stack Software Engineer

Our Tech team builds the great functionality in our suite of apps and ensures that our servers run efficiently. This position develops and maintains code for a product, working with a smaller team of app developers and in collaboration / communication with the whole Tech team. They partner with our Product Managers and QA team to deliver products that align with customer needs and expectations.

Regional Sales Manager – Europe

Our Sales team connects libraries, universities, schools, and non-profits with the products they need, developing partnerships throughout the evaluation and purchase process. This position works with top management to formulate sales strategies for the European region and works closely with current and prospective customers as a trusted advisor, developing a deep understanding of customers’ unique challenges and goals.

Become a Springy!

Are you ready to join our amazing crew? Head on over to our Careers page to get more details, then let us know what makes you a Springy!