Tips For A Successful Year of Managing Student Employees with LibStaffer

Very soon, the library will be abuzz. You will be standing before the bright, eager faces of your student employees. They will be looking to you and your colleagues to guide them through a year of what, everyone hopes, will be a productive, fun, learning experience as they assist you in the library. Some of them will be new. While others will be returning from last year. All of them will need your organizational skills to get the hive running smoothly.

We’ve come up with some excellent tips to help you use LibStaffer to tackle this influx of additional staff. Unless this is your first time having student assistants, you probably already have rules for managing student workers. What we’re offering is a short list of things to know about how LibStaffer is designed to make scheduling the staff as painless as possible as you get ready for the new school year.

#1 Sync Back and Relax

Perhaps you already knew that you can sync your LibStaffer with your Outlook/Exchange calendar. However, many students on campuses use Google Calendar — so why not sync LibStaffer up with it.  The Google Calendar sync will pull their LibStaffer schedule into their GCalendar so they can see their upcoming shifts without needing to log in to LibStaffer. Plus they can opt to sync busy times. Basically, a student will be marked as unavailable if s/he has time blocked off in the Google Calendar that overlaps with any given shifts. This way, they can add their class schedule, study times, family visits, club/sport meetings, and more to their GCalendar and have it push to LibStaffer so they won’t be booked for a shift when they’re unavailable. It’s always a good idea to connect to what the students are using every day as it yields a more complete picture of availability.

#2 Account for Changes

Student assistants are a great help but they do pose a specific set of challenges. Namely, their schedules can be very unpredictable. LibStaffer understands that a tool designed to organize people needs to be flexible or it just won’t work. Period. Fortunately, the system has options built-in that you can elect to enable or not based on your preferences. Consider allowing student workers to swap shifts, give up and pick up shifts and even split shifts. They’re all possibilities in LibStaffer. Changes to a schedule used to be one of the reasons staffing student workers was a maddening job. But once you not only account for changes but actually plan for them and put options in place that make it an organized piece of the puzzle, you’ll find it won’t require any ibuprofen after all.

#3 Streamline Your Communications

Communicating with your student workers is important. LibStaffer helps streamline the task by making it possible to email everyone assigned to a specific schedule. So, if you have a Reference Desk Schedule, you can send a note out to the whole team right from inside the system. Ask them to remember to put in their time off requests for the month or share a newly altered schedule with the team. You can do it from LibStaffer and you don’t have to email students who, for instance, don’t work the Reference Desk.

#4 Spell It Out

It’s really helpful for student assistants to know what is expected of them during a given shift. You may have tasks that you want to be performed that are particular to the opening or closing shifts. You may have projects that you want to be completed in the slow afternoons. Getting the most out of your student workers is possible when you keep everyone focused and informed.

#5 Make Things Easier On Yourself

You can always fill unfilled shifts, manually. There are all sorts of features in place to help you do that efficiently. However, don’t be afraid to take the even easier road by using the Auto Scheduler to assign student workers to shifts! You can select a date range. Perhaps you want to get the next 3 weeks scheduled because you are going to a conference and want it done before you go. You can set limits for the number of shifts per day that a staff member can work. You can ask the system to place all the favorited students first and, if you want, you can decide not to allow anyone to be scheduled in back-to-back shifts if that’s important to you. If you don’t know which shifts are preferred by student workers, you can allow them to favorite themselves. Then, click the submit button. The Auto Scheduler is going to do all the work for you taking into account all the information in the system. It won’t schedule a person who has the day off, has exceeded their maximum hours, or is scheduled at another desk already at that time. Voila!

#6 Reinvent Clocking In and Clocking Out

Springshare knows it’s essential for you to have a way for your student employees to be able to clock in and out for the day. We recommend that you set up a particular station designated for this. To help the Managers out, LibStaffer has a great little window where you can see — at a glance — who is currently clocked in. Imagine being able to have a quick look at any time of the day and being able to see that information. Plus, we all know that people slip up on occasion and forget to clock in or out. We’ve got you covered for those scenarios, too! You have an Admin button in that window that allows you to clock a student in or out on their behalf! LibStaffer is designed to make it so that you can manage your service point staffing with ease. And — with any luck — a productive, fun, learning experience can be had by all!

Learn More About LibStaffer

LibStaffer is chock-a-block full of features and has new exciting updates you should check out. To learn more about it, contact sales@springshare.com or drop into one of the special LibStaffer webinars we have scheduled soon. You’ll learn how LibStaffer makes organizing service point scheduling a breeze. Remember, if you can’t make it to the webinars, you can still go ahead and register and then click watch video to have a recording sent to you.

LibAnswers Update: Chat Improvements and More Coming Soon!

The LibAnswers release is on its way and will be released to all regions by the end of the day on Thursday August 9th. This release is chock full of chat dashboard stability and UI improvements – read on for the full scoop!

New Chat Dashboard Updates

We’ve heard your early feedback from using the new and improved Chat Operator Dashboard, and are excited to bring you several key updates and new features, including:

  • FAQ Search – It’s back! We’ve added the ability to search FAQs and share them with patrons and internal chats. You’ll see this FAQ search ability available from any chat area, including all internal and personal chats – this offers a quick way to search for existing help documentation from your site, and share it with patrons lickety split. And even better, we’ve improved the “share a link” functionality – now, instead of needing to copy and paste the link, you can just click the link icon from within the list of results and you’re off to the races.
  • Current Operator Shown In All Operators List – We heard from several folks that it felt more intuitive to show the current operator in the all operators list, so we made it happen! Even better, in addition to just showing your name in the operators list (which makes it easy to keep an eye on your current chat status), when you click on your name, you’ll find a chat entry area that’s personalized for you! Use this space as your personal notes area – you can use it to create draft messages, or search FAQs, or write yourself reminders, etc.
  • Responsive Design Elements were improved with this update, so the new chat dashboard will respond better for tablets and other smaller screens. Optimizing the chat dashboard for mobile devices will be coming in a future release.
  • Less Clicks Required to Close Chat – We’ve updated the various end chat behaviors to reduce the number of clicks – now, when you go to end a chat, you’ll have just one click to end, instead of needing to navigate through an additional dropdown menu.

Improved Chat Stability

In this release we’ve made several big under the hood improvements to help make the LibChat infrastructure as reliable and fault tolerant as possible. One of the biggest visible improvements is something we’re very excited about – in the new chat dashboard, if something inadvertently causes the chat operator to go offline for a moment – ex if the internet blips out momentarily, or if you accidentally navigate away from the chat pane and then hit the back button – you won’t lose any current chats in progress.

Full Admin Side HTTPS Support – No Action Required!

In this update we’re also introducing full HTTPS support for the admin side of your system, for all sites! This change means all of the admin side interactions in the system – from replying to tickets to answering chats to viewing statistics and running reports, every action you take on the admin side is now run via HTTPS enabled pages, so all system communication is more secure.

Please note that this update automatically updates every site’s admin-side pages to HTTPS. To update your public side pages to HTTPS (which we highly recommend doing!), check out our instructions available at https://ask.springshare.com/libapps/faq/596.

Plus Bug Fixes and More!

  • Accessibility Improvements have been implemented for chat widgets – we’ve made them more screen reader friendly, so users with all types of assistive devices will have a smooth chat experience. We’ve also updated aria information in several key places
  • Remove the “Welcome to the New Chat Dashboard” message – For sites that have chosen to upgrade to the new chat operator screen, you’ll no longer see the “Welcome to the New Chat Dashboard” message each time you log in.
  • Character Escaping Improvements were made in a couple of places – now, if a patron shares a URL that contains an & in the pre-chat questions, or if you create a “Contact Us” link that contains an &, these will be rendered properly right from the get go.
  • Chat Links Open in New Window – We discovered a bug with the new chat operator interface where, if a patron shared a URL in one of the pre-chat question areas, those URLs were not opening in a new window. Now, all URLs shared via chat will open in a new window, so you won’t inadvertently navigate away from the chat pane.

LibStaffer 2.9 Release Coming This Week

The LibStaffer 2.9 release is headed your way this week, and will be released to all regions by the end of the day on Thursday August 9th. We’re bringing you a refreshed UI with easier to navigate pages, plus improved Auto Scheduler functionality and a whole lot more! Read on for all the deets.

Page Navigation Updates

We’ve updated many of the screens throughout LibStaffer to improve your site navigation experience and give the system a more polished look and feel. In this update we’ve concentrated on the Edit Schedule pages – we’ve improved the layout of all settings so they’re more intuitive, and added a quick switching element to the top of the page so it’s easier to jump between schedules. We’ve also polished functionality and improved help text on all modals on this page, including Clear/Delete Shifts, Auto Scheduler, Email Scheduled Shifts, and Edit Schedule, to help clarify all of the available functionality and make navigation smooth sailing!

Auto Scheduler Improvements

We’ve heard several comments from folks that the Auto Scheduler was in need of improvement – it could be slow to run, and in certain scenarios, shifts weren’t being distributed among all available staff members as equitably as they could be. In this release, we’ve completed a major update of the Auto Scheduler functionality – now, it will both run faster and distribute shifts among available staff members in the most equitable way possible, even across large date ranges. To see it in action, admins can head to Edit Schedule > Auto Scheduler.

Additional Improvements

  • Time Off Request Emails have been updated to be more informative – they now include all details about the time being requested, so you have more information on the time off being requested right in your inbox.
  • Pending Swaps and Given Up Shift Reports have been combined into a single report, so it’s easier to see all shifts that may need coverage, all from one screen.
  • And we’ve added several Accessibility Improvements, including:
    • It’s now possible to navigate to every shift in a schedule using just the keyboard and/or screenreader software, no mouse required.
    • We’ve added a separate “Add Shift” button, so you can create new shifts without requiring a keyboard. To add a shift, head to Edit Schedule > Cog Icon > Create Shift.

LibCal 2.16 Release Coming Soon – Hello Appointments Module

The LibCal 2.16 update is coming to you this week, and will be released to all regions by end of the day on Thursday August 9th. This refresh is so complete and chock full of new features that we’re renaming the old MyScheduler to Appointments, to more accurately reflect its full capabilities.

New Appointments Module

The old My Scheduler module will be renamed Appointments going forward, inside all LibCal screens. One of the most frequent requests we heard from users is for the ability to mark themselves as “available” for booking appointments in different locations at different dates and times. We made this happen, plus a whole lot more. Here’s a quick rundown of the new features:

  • New “Location” Option for Appointments – We added a new, high-level option to create Locations – these are meant to represent physical spaces/locations where Appointments happen (including Online). Each location contains one or multiple Groups of librarians. When patrons first view the All Users Appointments landing page, they choose the location where they’d like to meet, and then see the groups/librarians associated with that Location. To define “Locations” for your site, admins can head to Admin > Appointment Settings.
  • Reworked Availability Settings – In the new Appointments, a librarian can define availability for themselves in specific locations/groups at specific times. In addition, you can now add (or edit/delete) availability in any recurring pattern you choose. What were previously considered “conflicts” (like prior availability or existing appointments) will no longer prevent you from creating or editing/deleting availability. To take the new availability settings for a spin, head to Appointments > Availability.
  • Friendly URLs – To create a friendly URL for your personal Appointments landing page, head to Appointments > Settings > Friendly URL. To create a friendly URL for a Location, admins can head to Admin > Appointments > Edit Location.
  • File Uploads – You can enable file uploads for your Appointments so patrons to share files that may be needed during the course of a meeting – e.g. for help tracking down references from a bibliography, have them upload the bibliography ahead of time. Head to Appointments > My Settings > Appointment Form File Uploads to enable this.
  • Public Personal Nickname – Choose a nickname to display on the public side of the system, e.g. instead of booking an appointment with Sarah, patrons can book an appointment with the Science Liaison, and all communications coming from LibCal will use that nickname. To choose a nickname, head to Appointments > My Settings > Nickname.
  • Public Group Nicknames – We’re also adding support for group public nicknames. This essentially acts as an extension to the “No Preference” setting, so a patron can ex book an appointment with any available Peer Tutor. For groups set up this way, we won’t display individual librarian names/availability on the public side, so the patron is only aware that they have an appointment with a Peer Tutor at XYZ time. To enable a group nickname, admins can head to Admin > Appointments > Edit Group > Group Member Display.
  • All Appointments View – A new report to list/display all upcoming and past appointments for all Appointments users, so if a patron shows up at the front desk needing directions, it’s easy to see who their appointment is scheduled with, and where, and when. To see the all appointments view, head to Appointments > Booking Explorer.
  • Revamped Statistics – We’ve completely overhauled Appointments statistics, so it’s easy to view and export all statistics on all Appointments for all users, and get a full breakdown of bookings and availability by Group, User, etc. We’ve also added a number of lovely charts and graphs to help illuminate the wealth of information now available. To check out the new stats, head to Stats > Appointments.

Equipment and Space Improvements

  • Exchange + Spaces Integration is Live! -Picture this: a 2-way sync between Exchange calendars and LibCal spaces, so that reservations you make via Exchange will automatically block off availability in the Spaces module, and reservations made via Spaces are automatically pushed to Exchange. With this release, we’re rolling out full Exchange integration for all Spaces users – huzzah! For full details on setting up this integration, check out our documentation.
  • Equipment: Inventory Reports – We’re also adding a brand new report to Equipment module to view and export a list of all inventory in the system. The report can be customized to display the fields that you’re most interested in seeing, including item name, barcode, current status, and total checkouts.
  • Booking Date Created/Submitted – We’ve added a few minor improvements to the Booking Details to make the info more clear. Now, you’ll see the date that the booking was submitted displayed as part of the Booking Details, so it’s easy to see how long ago a booking was submitted by the patron. To see this in action, head to either the Equipment or Spaces tab, then click on a booking.
  • Mediated Bookings Show 1 Year In Future – We’ve updated the Mediation tab in Equipment and Spaces – previously we only displayed tentative requests for the current week, but now, we’ll show all pending requests for up to the next year, so it’s easy to see the full picture of upcoming requests for your mediated equipment and spaces.

Calendar & Events New Features

  • Revised Publishing Workflow – We’re updating the flow and function of the event publishing workflow to make it easier on event reviewers who need to communicate changes to an event creator. Now, when an event is submitted, the event reviewer can:
    • Just publish the event with no changes, or
    • Make edits to the event themselves, then publish the event, or
    • Send an email to the event creator from the admin UI stating what needs to be changed; the event creator can then make the updates themselves and then resubmit the event for review
  • Embed Full Calendar on the Homepage – we’re adding a quick way to embed the full monthly calendar view on the LibCal homepage. To embed your full calendar on your homepage, admins can head to Admin > Look and Feel > Homepage Editor.

 

As always, the ideas and suggestions for the vast majority of these awesome new features came from you, our clients who use LibCal day in and day out, for all your library’s calendaring needs. We’re sending a huge thank you to all users who contributed their ideas, suggestions, testing, etc. to make this big new release happen. Let’s keep the conversation going… Let us know if any questions pop up, contact our support team or your regional sales manager.

LibGuides Courseware Integration with Desire2Learn, Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle and more!

In 2016, 6,359,121 students took at least one online class (Digital Learning Compass: Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017, Babson Survey Research Group).

This figure represents 31.6% of all higher education enrollments and has increased 17.2% since 2012.

All signs indicate that this figure will continue to grow – more and more students will be taking online courses.

Does the library have a presence in your courseware tool?

From SnapChat to Email… from Instagram to student portals… your students have a lot of web resources that they access. They are so inundated with text-messages, emails, announcements, snaps, instas, and posts that they’ve streamlined the websites they access to only the most important, the most relevant, to get their work done. And if they’re taking an online course, their course portal page is probably at the top of a very short list.

If your library doesn’t have a native presence right inside their course pages… do you think they’ll visit the library website externally to get their assignments done? If you’re lucky, then yes! …but most students seek the path of least resistance. The easiest, most ‘Google-like’ resources to get their assignment done.

If you want to put the library front and center, both in their mind’s eye and in front of their literal eyeballs, then having a presence right inside their course pages is the way to go. It’s a win-win for everyone! Promote course-specific resources natively inside their course pages. Students see easy-to-access library resources right when and where they need them the most, and you get to boost your usage stats by embedding the library right at point of need.

Not Just for ‘Online-Only’ Students

More than just ‘online-only’ students are accessing a courseware tool, like Blackboard, Moodle, Sakai, Desire2Learn, or Canvas. More often than not, they’re accessing them as part of a hybrid class (half virtual/half face-to-face) or even as a supplemental tool in face-to-face classes for professors to share resources and receive assignment submissions.

All their course-specific resources are right inside their courseware tool. From assignments, syllabi, discussion boards for online discussions, even the ability to ask their professor a question and upload their assignments. Everything they need is right there. Is your library right there, too?

The Library at Their Fingertips, Literally

The LTI Tool Builder allows you to embed your LibGuides content natively inside courseware, so students can easily find your content right inside their Blackboard, Moodle, Desire2Learn, Canvas, or Sakai course.

LibGuides CMS customers can embed Guides, Database Assets, and E-Reserves Courses (if they subscribe to the E-Reserves module).

LibGuides customers who also subscribe to the E-Reserves module can embed E-Reserves Courses.

There are two ways to integrate content:

1. Manual Method

The Manual LTI method allows you to embed Guide content, Database A-Z links, and/or E-Reserves Courses (with E-Reserves Subscription) right into a Course. You’ll have various customization options along with the ability to embed an entire LibGuide, a page within a Guide, or even a single box (great for embedding a discovery layer search box or a LibChat widget!).

The Manual LTI Method, is well, manual. So you’ll have to navigate to each course and choose which Guide content you want to display.

2. Automagic Method

The Automagic method is nothing short of magical. Once the Automagic tool and your courseware platform have ‘shaken hands’, your Springshare content automagically displays in each course. Exactly what displays for each course depends upon the metadata you’ve added to your LibGuides site (in order to match courses to guides, etc.) & the customization options you’ve selected in LibApps. So the content that displays inside the course pages is controlled by you, right from your LibGuides CMS system.

Plus, the Automagic method allows you to share much more than just Guide content! You’ll have the option to create an entire Library Resources page right inside your Courseware tool and embed a variety of Springshare resources:

  1. Guide content
  2. Subject-specific A-Z Databases & Subject Expert Profiles
  3. E-Reserves Courses (E-Reserves Subscription required)
  4. Ask-a-Librarian LibChat Widget (LibAnswers subscription required)
  5. FAQ Search Box (LibAnswers subscription required)
  6. Book a Study Room / Request one-on-one Librarian Appointments (LibCal subscription required)

The best part of the Automagic tool is that it’s scalable. Work with your courseware administrators to embed it right into the course shell(s) and then control what displays for each individual course right from your LibGuides CMS system via metadata. Each time the course shell is copied for a new course, your Library Resources page is automatically created and updated to reflect the new course information via the metadata.

The Automagic tool has a few options, so be sure to spend time on the LTI Automagic page inside LibApps. Choose from either the Stepped Search or the Translation Table. Customize your Library Landing Page and be sure to Preview it to see how it will look in your LMS.

Working with a specific courseware tool? We have some FAQs to help!

Who’s Using the LTI Tool?

If you’re looking for examples of Libraries using the Automagic LTI Tool, we’ve got em! Learn how Penn State University embedded the Library into over 30,000 online courses each semester. They’ve even written about this project in the July 2018 issue of Library Technology Reports (Vol. 54 Iss.5).

Marymount University Librarians recently presented at the July 25 SpringyCamp (Springshare’s Virtual User Conference) on how they used the LibGuides CMS LTI Tool to increase student usage, foster collaboration, and support online programs.

Need Help?

Springshare always has your back – which is why we’ve setup a custom group of FAQs to address all your LTI (both Manual and Automatic) questions.

Plus, we have recordings available of our online training sessions. So be sure to watch, and rewatch if needed, to see the LTI tool in action.

SpringyCamp 2018: Recordings Available & Sign-Up for Session 3!

SpringyCamp Summer Series 2018 is in full-force! And while Sessions One and Two are over (we’ll never forget the times we sang around the campfire), there is still more ‘Camp to be had!

What’s SpringyCamp?

SpringyCamp is our virtual user conference where Springshare users share how they’re using Springy Tools inside their library. Get inspired, receive practical tips and applications…all from the comfort of your computer.

Learn about best practices for building LibGuides, embedding the library into the curriculum, setting up a virtual badge program, and more. And bonus, the virtual s’mores are calorie-free!

Register for SpringyCamp 2018 Session 3 August 15 1pm to 3:15pm US Eastern Time

  • Date: Wed, August 15 – 1:00pm – 3:15pm U.S. ET
  • View Presenter Lineup: Summer Session 3 Basecamp
  • Register for Session 3: Sign-Up today, it’s free!
  • Cost: 100% Completely Free! Exclusive event for Springshare Customers only.
  • Audience: All user-levels and library-types are welcome to join!

‘Camp Lives On… In Our Memories

Missed Summer Session 1 and 2? No worries, all SpringyCamps are recorded! Access presenter materials, recommended websites, and more.

Tips for Promoting Internal Staff Communication, Collaboration, and Community

Are you engaged?

It’s funny to say, but people are always talking about communication. In every relationship dynamic, the secret…is always communication — with your child, with your clients, with pets, with other countries, with your barista. Are you communicating effectively? Even more to the point, how can you communicate better?

This has always been a trending topic and it’s even more of a challenge now. With so many ways to reach out and because the traditional work environment is morphing with flex hours and telecommuting, virtual possibilities, it helps to reboot the conversation.

The one thing you will learn quickly is that it’s all about engagement. You have to be engaged in the solutions you put forth or the team won’t be either. So, if you really care about boosting internal staff communication to improve collaboration and create a sense of community, then you’re already on the right track. You care. The sooner we stop talking about communication and make improving it a real priority, the sooner we will see the wonderful effect it has on team productivity and morale.

The leaders have to lead.

If you want to encourage active internal communication amongst the staff, you’ll want to get in the mix. There are teams all over the world who find themselves with new directives sprinkled with enthusiastic words about the new intranet tool that has been licensed — so the company can better connect. It improves efficiency, they’re told. And, while this may be true, so many of those sharing the new mandate will never be seen actively participating in the intranet. They say the best way to lead is by example. Well, whether you intend to or not, you’re always leading by example. So get in there and show them how it’s done!

LibGuides CMS has Groups functionality. Combine that with its Access Controls feature and you can create a locked down group and use it as a staff intranet! Many libraries are starting to do this as it’s super convenient.

  • Your internal group in LibGuides CMS can be a place where you get to know each other better. You can have each team member build a guide where s/he shares not just education and work experience, but also hobbies and interests, favorite TV shows and go-to Karaoke songs, photos of family or pets or a favorite vacation vista and more.
  • You can facilitate collaboration on projects that should be tackled next or get feedback on your latest instruction session idea by enabling Discussion Boards. You can engage with your team right in your site by encouraging open discussions or you can post specific questions. Remember, you can enable Discussion Boards on as many guides in your intranet group as you wish!

  • Cultivate a fun internal voice by using the blogging tool. Maybe your library organized a particularly successful event recently. Or, maybe you had excellent reviews on a recent class you offered. Have the folks in charge write a blog post about it. This gives staff a chance to share and shine!
  • It’s your intranet, what do you want to use it for? Ensuring an actively accessed intranet is about making it a “place” you’d want to hang out. Of course, you can build guides that hold documents and files and links and images pertaining to a current project. But alongside those, be creative about your guides. Perhaps the Director wants to build a guide about what’s on the horizon with tabs for each quarter? Give your retiring colleague an opportunity to build a farewell guide! Maybe you should start a staff book club or book review guide! Have fun! This is where communication leads to community.

The new water cooler.

Do offices even have the proverbial water cooler anymore? At Springshare, we’re chatting all the time, but from our desks or devices. Don’t curtail the chatting. Instead, foster it. It’s much faster than opening/sending/replying to emails. LibChat, a component of the LibAnswers Platform, not only helps you answer your patrons efficiently, it also allows you to chat amongst yourselves.

  • You can transfer questions from patrons to another operator. This is useful if there is someone better suited to answering the question online with you or in case you are about to go on your break and you need to start feeding questions to the next person on duty.
  • You can ask a colleague a question — behind the scenes — to help you answer the patron.
  • You can chat with all LibAnswers colleagues that are online at the time or initiate a chat with someone in particular.

A mixed bag is good. People will chat with each other about projects, ask for feedback, share an experience. But they’ll also send a birthday shout out and ask each other about playlists that move the day along. The important thing is that it’s a happy work environment. People who know and like each other want to collaborate.

Plus, the LibChat Operator Console was just updated with an entirely new interface making internal/staff-only chats that much easier.

Check in — so they don’t check out.

You can set up tools and you can implement strategies to improve communication in your workplace, but one of the best things you can do is frequently check in with the team. Use LibWizard to create an anonymous survey and ask folks if something is missing from the intranet. See if there’s a page they never use. Use the multi-select checkbox field to ask them which portions of the intranet they find most useful or interesting.

Not only will it help you improve by filling in the blanks or kicking out stuff that’s just taking up space, but it lets your team know you really do care about nurturing a productive and supportive and — dare we say — fun workplace.

How LibAnswers Helps You Provide Excellent Customer Service

It all begins with a question.

You’ve got someone inside your doors. (If you use your imagination, this exercise will work for brick and mortar or virtual examples.) Perhaps she’s looking around at your signage. Maybe he even walks up to the bulletin board to see the flyers you’ve designed, written and posted about your thoughtful programming. If you’re lucky, in a little while your patron will ask you a question.

We say lucky because it is a truly excellent thing to have that person engage you and your library team. To initiate interaction is not always something people feel encouraged to do. Patrons might come to your website, look around a bit, and then navigate elsewhere. Or, they might come and spend time in the library but never learn about all of the resources and events and instruction that exist there. This is why — when a patron asks a question, librarians are excited by the opportunity it presents.

The LibAnswers Platform is designed to help you handle all the questions that come into your library, no matter which avenue your patrons prefer to use to ask them! Whether they choose to call, email, tweet or maybe they like the immediacy of chat or prefer face-to-face interactions or — it’s highly likely they are all about texting, LibAnswers helps you answer them. Plus, you can build an FAQ that works 24/7 and you get incredibly useful statistics and data.

Baltimore County Public Library puts their patrons first.

Academic libraries have been using the LibAnswers Platform to help their students, faculty, and library staff get the answers they need since we launched LibAnswers. Public libraries have begun doing some really inventive things with the system in order to prioritize internal efficiency and provide exemplary customer service.

Cynthia Dennis is the Information Specialist in the Virtual Services and Media Creation Department at Baltimore County Public Library. She and the staff in her department came up with the brilliant idea to add 19 additional LibAnswers queues — one for each of their branches — to their system so they could create what amounts to a communication nerve center for BCPL.

This is what Cynthia said about the project:

We used a lot of your Springy help pages to do the training so not too much time was spent on reinventing the wheel! Now we use LibAnswers instead of traditional email to manage email questions from customers. We also use it to quickly communicate with each other about questions and/or to transfer questions to the best group or person to answer the customer. This has solved a lot of our communication problems that revolve around getting our customers served quickly and efficiently since we often need to either consult with or transfer to another department or branch. Of course, we had used the phone and regular email for this but phone calls can wind up in telephone tag and email can fill up quickly with things of lesser importance. So, using LibAnswers keeps the customer front and center and it keeps stats for us so – It’s a win, win!

 

Springshare loves Baltimore County Public Library’s commitment to their patrons. Moreover, we think it’s fantastic that they — driven by the goal to answer their customers efficiently — examined the internal day-to-day behind the scenes operations that go into answering a question. By doing that, they created a dynamic 19-branch internal hub that facilitates communication so well that they’re answering patron questions with ease. It’s inspiring!

Learn more about using the LibAnswers Platform to maximize staff efficiencies.

Join us for some special webinars. Remember, if you can’t attend these, just register and select the option to “watch video.” We will send the recording as soon as it’s available. For more information about the LibAnswers Platform, contact sales@springshare.com.

LibAnswers Webinar: Productivity Tactics for Enhancing Customer Service

Wednesday, July 18, 2018, at 11:30am ET

Thursday, July 26, 2018, at 3:30pm ET

New LibAuth US Hardware Coming Your Way!

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Just a quick post to let you know that on Wednesday, July 18, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time, we will be moving the US LibAuth server to new hardware. We’ve chosen this time because it seems to be the slowest time for all our US and Australian customers using this server. There will be up to 5 minutes of downtime while we make this change, which means that logging in via LibAuth for US customers may be unavailable during this time. No other application or function will be affected. The IP address of the server will NOT change, so if your use of LibAuth relies on letting a certain IP address through the firewall, you can rest assured; that will still work.

See How Libraries Use LibInsight Datasets

Getting a handle on your data is a big deal.

More and more people are having conversations about the next steps for their data. People have been collecting it for years and years. This was the major focus for some time. It was the pressing priority. We have to track things. This led to — let’s just track everything…in case we need that data. This exchange surrounding data is an ever-evolving one and at Springshare we are dedicated to propelling our libraries beyond recording to real reporting. LibInsight allows your data the ability to matter, to perform.

We’re highlighting the inspiring dig into the data attitudes of two terrific clients. Check out the types of datasets they’ve made, what they’re able to see with their data all in one place, and in what way the data can be used. It’s off the charts exciting!

Datasets to love.

Buffalo State started out using Springshare’s LibInsight Lite (formerly LibAnalytics) in 2012. They upgraded to the full LibInsight system in 2016. Before our tools, they were primarily using spreadsheets for their data. Joe Riggie, the Information Systems Librarian said that the deciding factor in moving forward with the upgrade was the fact that LibInsight has “cross-dataset analysis, SUSHI support, and enhancements (cost data, file uploads, etc.).”

The first datasets they made were for Gate Counts, ILL Lending, Circulation, etc. As they worked on, they learned valuable things that can benefit others. Joe said, “Our original database metric dataset only used SUSHI and so we ended up with usage data at the vendor (Gale, ProQuest, etc) level. We wanted more granular results so we set up a new dataset that used uploaded COUNTER reports to get usage data at the platform level (Academic Search Complete, ARTSTOR, etc).” Now, the most popular datasets are ones for Database usage, Circulation and EBook usage.

Today, capturing the right data and being able to generate the reports you need is the most efficient way to get the most out of your efforts to analyze. Joe said, “We have produced reporting for accreditation…” This is thrilling for us at Springshare. Joe says the Butler Library at Buffalo State uses LibInsight to “compare the changing patterns of book/ebook usage. We can compare traffic (gatecount) to the use of library services (circulation). We can easily obtain cost per download data for ejournals and databases. We have used LibInsight for collection development and weeding.”

And they’re generous enough to offer a tip to everyone. “We have noticed that many vendors add hidden columns into COUNTER reports and the uploads will fail until you find and remove them.”

We’re so excited about how Buffalo State has raised their dataset game in just the last 2 years with the full LibInsight system.

Unlimited datasets = unlimited experimenting.

Also having started out with LibInsight Lite (back in 2014), Greta Valentine, the Research and Data Analyst of the University of Kansas Libraries said they upgraded to the full LibInsight in 2016. Greta said, “We liked that it allowed for cross-dataset comparisons, and that it included the ability to upload large batches of data ourselves. We also liked that we could create unlimited datasets so we could test various collection use cases on an experimental basis. We also found the automatic import of data via SUSHI harvesting appealing, and are now in the beginning stages of implementing this since the tool we were using to ingest COUNTER data previously is no longer supported.”

Greta explains that they first began to use LibInsight Lite to create datasets necessary for their ARL (Association of Research Libraries) Annual Statistics report. These stats have been collected and published annually since 1907. Now, they’re using LibInsight to get some of the pertinent numbers. Greta said, “These included our Service Desk Statistics dataset (all transactions at our circulation/reference desk plus chat questions), Instruction (information about instruction sessions), and Consultations (information about research consultations performed off the reference desk.) When we transferred to [Lib]Insight we added more datasets that included a much higher volume of data, such as data from our Voyager ILS about Interlibrary Loan and Circulation transactions.”

Springshare knows it’s not just Reference Service these days, it’s Customer Service. Serving their patrons is one of the highest ranking priorities at the University of Kansas. This is exhibited in their dataset popularity. Greta notes, “The most-used dataset continues to be our Service Desk Statistics dataset, which includes all interactions at our combined reference/circulation desk, as well as reference questions/referrals answered via chat. Late in 2016, we began using LibAnswers to record chat questions since it provided the interface to capture both walk-up and chat questions directly, as well as the ability to create tickets for questions received via e-mail. This also allows us to track referrals. We use [Lib]Insight primarily as a repository to hold this data (we upload it from LibAnswers quarterly) so we can view the number of transactions longitudinally along with older data.”

What else are the KU Libraries doing with LibInsight? Greta answered that “In addition to providing the numbers for our ARL Annual Statistics, the Libraries is participating in a longitudinal study with the Greater Western Library Association (GWLA) to see how library instruction affects student success.

And, this is exactly what makes the data discussion important. What is not up for debate here is how collecting the data is the first step. Libraries are doing that — have been doing that. But it would be amazing if you could make data-driven decisions! It’s exciting to be able to use LibInsight to analyze the data in a meaningful way so that you can see how library instruction affects student success. This is what you need today and going forward — to have the ability to examine relationships and test possible correlations, and to cut through that data to what you want to extract quickly so you can get to the answers.

Upcoming Webinars

LibInsight: Empower Staff to Make Data-Driven Decisions

Monday, July 16 — 11:30 am – 12:00 pm

Tuesday, July 24 — 3:30 pm – 4:00 pm

If you can’t attend these dates and times, register so you can opt to receive the recording. To get more information on LibInsight, contact sales@springshare.com.