Archive for April 29, 2015

LibGuides 2.1.6 Coming Soon!

We’re bringing you some really exciting updates with v2.1.6, including a new LTI tool, enhancements to E-Reserves, custom column widths in tabbed-nav guides, and a bunch of great fixes. We’re aiming to release this update later this week Thursday, April 30th at 12pm Pacific. There will be no downtime. 🙂

LibApps LTI Tool for LibGuides CMS

With LibGuides v2, we made it easier to integrate your guides / content anywhere by introducing protocol-less widgets, which work via http and https, and a RESTful API. Now we’re going one step further – this new tool enables embedding of LibGuides CMS content into any LTI-compliant LMS (Canvas, Moodle, Blackboard, etc.).

This means you can log into your LMS, add the LibApps LTI tool, and embed away!* Choose to embed full guides, specific boxes, and (coming soon) E-Reserves courses.

Want a sneak peek at how it works in Canvas? Check out the video below!

* Some LMSes, like Blackboard, may require that the LMS Admin add the LTI Tool before you’ll be able to use it in your course sites. You’ll need to refer to the LTI instructions for your LMS and your local policies to determine what you’ll need to do to use this tool in your system. Our LTI Tool guide walks you through getting to the configuration information and using the tool once it’s been added. 🙂

E-Reserves Enhancements

Next on the list of awesome are our enhancements to E-Reserves. This is phase 1 of enhancements – there will be more in the next release, so don’t you worry if the feature you were wishing for isn’t in this list. We have more great stuff on the horizon!

  • Statistics: Get the low down on how many times courses have been accessed and items viewed.
  • Open / Close All Folders: On the public side, use the links at the top to open or close all folders at once.
  • Associating Subjects with Courses: Allow folks to browse courses by subject by associating one or more subjects with the course.
  • Term Dates: We’ve added a date picker to make it easier to select the start and end dates for terms.
  • Delete Summaries: This is just like what we have for assets / boxes / pages / guides – when you’re deleting something from E-Reserves, the delete screen lets you know exactly what will be deleted if you continue with the process.
  • E-Reserves User Permissions (CMS Only): There was a bug with allowing Regular users permission to manage all E-Reserves content. That has been fixed. 🙂

Custom Column Width in Tabbed-Nav Guides

We added a Custom option (with a slider, since everyone loved that from v1 😉 ) to the column width options for tabbed-nav guides. You still have the option of 1, 2, 3, or 4 columns, but now you can move those sliders around to choose the column sizes you want vs. fitting things in to the default options we provide. The sizing is based on Bootstrap column widths, so it is all percentages, which helps your site be responsive to screen size.

Custom Column Widths

…And More! (Includes bug fixes / layout changes 🙂 )

  • Skip Nav links have been added to all pages for accessibility.

    Template Change Notice

    • If you have (or create) custom page templates, make sure you do not remove the #s-lg-guide-main ID, as that is where the Skip Nav links bring the user to on the page.
    • If you have previously created custom page templates, you must add this keyword directly after the body tag in order for Skip Nav links to work on guides / pages using that template: {{skip_link}}
  • Added missing Language Options labels.
    Try as we might to get everything in one go, when there are 180+ labels to find, it was inevitable that we’d miss some. 😉 Thanks to our customers who made us aware of the missing labels!

    • No guides / groups / subjects / owners available. (When there aren’t any to display on a homepage.)
    • Next / Previous button text in guides.
    • Breadcrumbs:
      • Added one for Home (the homepage title on both system and group homepages)
      • Ensured Subjects, A-Z, etc., breadcrumbs use the page title label as defined in the Language Options area.
  • CSS Change for selected options on the Databases A-Z page.
    Selected items from the subjects, database types, and vendors drop downs will now be highlighted, so:

    • the user has a visual cue that they’re looking at a subset of databases based on a selection in those filters, and
    • the user understands that the filters work together – if you select from more than one drop down, it filters based on both selections; selecting from one drop down does not clear the selection made in the other.

    Thanks to Matt Reidsma for his post about making the change for the GVSU LibGuides site – another great example of system updates inspired by our clients! 🙂
    CSS change for selected filters on the Databases A-Z page.

  • Consolidation of Page Templates area in Look & Feel
    Whew, with all of the options for page templates in the Look & Feel area, it was making the tabs go into a 2nd row, which is something we always try to avoid. In order to make this list o’ pages (and Look & Feel options 😉 ) easier to use, we consolidated them under one heading. Now you’ll see an option for Page Templates with a dropdown menu where you can select the type: guide, homepage, etc.
    Consolidated Page Layout Template Menu
  • Guide Type List Ordering on the Homepage
    The Guide Type list on the homepage are now ordered properly, by the name of the type.
  • Subjects Breadcrumb Link
    If you had a multi-level friendly URL, the subjects breadcrumb wasn’t pointing to the right place…oops! That’s been fixed. 😉
  • Books from the Catalog ISBN Lookup
    Sometimes there’s no book data to display for an ISBN, but there is a book cover. That should now properly display even if there’s no other book data available. If there’s no Syndetics book cover to display, you’ll see an error message in the Book Cover Art area so you can choose a different option, if you want.
  • Content > Assets > Icons area now uses the same table layout as the other screens, including filtering options.

LibCal v2.2 Update Now Live

We’re super-excited about this LibCal v2 code update. It brings major new functionality to the system as well as several nice-to-haves and bug fixes:

  • 2-Way Sync with Outlook for MyScheduler. With the previous update which covered Google Calendar 2-way sync, we now have full integration with two most widely used enterprise calendar platforms. You can embed MyScheduler widgets on any webpage so that your patrons and faculty can easily schedule research consultations and other appointments with librarians, without concerns of booking apointments during the time your Outlook calendar shows another commitment. LibCal will give you detailed statistics how many appointments you had, when they happened, with whom, etc. – a great way to keep track of your time and show evidence of building one-to-one relationships with patrons and your community.
  • Expanded SAML Authentication Support. With LDAP, CAS, SAML, and Shibboleth support (we’re members of InCommon), you can easily restrict access to room bookings (and events) to only the members of your community. The expanded SAML support  now enables admins to fine-tune permissions for groups i.e. to book specific groups of rooms in your system by SAML group affiliation attributes.
  • More features: This update also brings improved mobile-view for room bookings pages, more customization options for button widgets, updated page templates for room bookings, etc.

Here’s more detail about each of these…

Outlook Integration with LibCal’s v2 My Scheduler

You can now push your Free/Busy Times from Outlook/Exchange into My Scheduler! This update is similar to the Google Calendar integration we announced last month. Many of you use Outlook for your personal calendaring, and until now, you had to manually remove availability times from My Scheduler whenever a new meeting came up. Duplicate that effort no more!

Configure My Scheduler to check your Outlook Calendar, and your busy times will be removed from the public side when someone books an appointment.


On the Admin side, those busy times are shown to you when you click “Add New Booking”.

For more details & help getting this awesome new feature set up, check out our guide to My Scheduler / Outlook information (authentication required).

We know you’re wondering–what about Calendars and Room Bookings?!  It’s not possible for those to sync automatically from Outlook into LibCal at this time due to the complexity of Events and Bookings, but we will be looking into more possibilities in the future.

Please note that Outlook Calendar Sync and Google Calendar Sync features are not available in LibCal 3/3/3 free installations.

Restrict SAML Users within Room Bookings

We recently announced authentication support for Room Bookings, and the feedback so far has been great! We’re continuing to expand this integration, and have great news for folks who are using SAML to authenticate users. You can now permit access to book specific groups of rooms in your system by SAML group affiliation attributes.

This is perfect for sites who permit only specific groups of users (like Faculty, Undergraduates, Users) to book specific spaces. Let’s say you have a group of instruction classrooms which should only be reserved by Faculty and Staff, but you also have a group of study rooms that should only be reserved by Undergraduate and Graduate students, this integration will be right up your alley!

Additional Updates

We’ve also added a few additional items in this release, including:

  • Button formatting for both MyScheduler and Room Booking widgets – create a graphic, button-y widget with fully customizable colors and button text
  • Improved Mobile-optimized view for the public Room Booking page
  • Updated Room Booking Email Templates – added a new token for Group Nickname
  • Room Booking Admin View – Now when you add availability for particular date ranges, the calendar display will show those dates in bold font (so you know which days do/don’t have availability added)

As always, thanks to everyone for your ideas and feedback!

Springshare Support Model: We’re Presenting @ Computers in Libraries!

Talia Richards

Talia Richards

Putting UX Into Customer Service: The Springshare Model

When: Tuesday, April 28th from 1:30pm – 2:15pm

Where: B203


Talia Richards, a Springy Librarian, will be presenting on how you can use Springshare’s model for customer service in your library. Drawing inspiration from real-world examples, Richards shares practical tips, strategies, and implementation techniques that illustrate ways in which libraries can better integrate the user experience into their customer service model.

She discusses best practices that have been extracted through successful interactions as well as those that resulted in giant fails. From email and phone calls to Twitter and Facebook, she provides actionable strategies that focus on the customer, customer experience, and a successful outcome for all.

CIL Conference Abstract

Computers in Libraries Logo


Catch a Preview!


Putting UX into Customer Service

Putting UX into Customer Service

LibAnswers 2.3.1 Coming Soon!

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

New LibAnswers Spam Filters

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

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


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

LibChat Under-the Hood Update

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

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

Updated Question Form Builder

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

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

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

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

Watch ACRL 2015 Guest Presenters, Emilie & Monica, Present on Springy Tools!

Whether you attended ACRL in Portland, or not, you can still watch (and rewatch!) guest presenter’s Emilie Vrbancic and Monica Ruane Rogers speak about their use of Springy Tools.
Emilie Vrbancic

Teaching from LibGuides: Quick Tips for Interactive Learning

Emilie Vrbancic – University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

About (11min 13sec):

Do you create course specific LibGuides for library instruction? Are you looking for ways to incorporate active and collaborative learning into instruction sessions? Let LibGuides help you! This presentation will give you ideas and tips on using LibGuides to incorporate online teaching tools like Google forms and Padlet into instruction sessions in order to engage students in active learning and to assess student learning as it’s happening.

Emilie Presentation Video Screenshot

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Using LibGuides & LibSurveys for Conference Planning

Monica Ruane Rogers – California University

About (14min 8sec):

Monica Ruane RogersAs a member of the planning committee for the State System of Higher Education Library Cooperative Organization Annual Meeting in Harrisburg, PA, I have been charged with the task of creating the registration page for our conference, as well as several pages of evaluations (one of which will be used almost solely on mobile devices). Instead of using a stand-alone forms product for which my institution would have to pay an additional fee, I chose to make both our registration page as well as the evaluations with LibSurveys, to which we already have a subscription. One of the other universities in our system was able to embed my widget into the conference website, hosted on their institution’s LibGuides, thereby allowing for a seamless registration experience for conference attendees. This presentation showcases an inter-library collaboration using an outside-the-research-box use for a LibApps product, and will stimulate you to utilize these products for creative and innovative purposes.

Monica Video Screenshot

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New Base Languages – Brought to you by Springshare

Now that we have Language Options in LibGuides v2 and LibAnswers v2, we felt it was time to kick it up a notch and give you what you’ve been clamoring for all these years.

After agonizing research that took the better part of 7 years and painstaking creation, not to mention incredible bouts of wordsmithing, we’re amped to bring to you: THE BEST BASE SYSTEM LANGUAGES OF 2015! Many, oh so many, words died in the creation of these base languages. But, lest they died in vain –  implement these base languages tout suite!

Never mind languages people actually speak – who wants those? These are way more fun for your users. And you. Okay, mostly you – but don’t you get to have fun too?! All work and no play makes librarians go cray cray. 😉

1. Discworld

In honor of Sir Terry Pratchett, we bring to you the Discworld base language, full of wizards, witches, tyrants, guilds, and of course, the Luggage.

Discworld language option in LibGuides

2. Pig Latin

Eway ewknay ou’dyay ovelay isthay optionway!

Pig Latin language option in LibGuides

3. Vanilla Ice

A surprisingly easy translation – just add ‘Ice Ice, Baby’ to the end of every word. Just remind users to ‘Stop, Collaborate, and Listen’. And in LibAnswers, we have the only tagline you need: ‘If there’s a problem, yo, I’ll solve it!’

Vanilla Ice language option in LibAnswers

4. Princess Bride

We don’t want to live in a world where Princess Bride isn’t a language option – and now, we don’t have to. So put down the Iocane Powder, pardon us while we shout this a little louder, and this time we really mean it, any one got a peanut?

For LibGuides:

Princess Bride language option in LibGuides


For LibAnswers:

Princes Bride language options for LibAnswers

5. Pirate

This base language can serve oh so many purposes. Use it during International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Or on Halloween. Or when you’re feeling like a right ole’ scallywag, add it before that early morning instruction/workshop when you just want to mess with your users.

6. Bacon

You know that saying, “Everything is better with bacon”? At Springshare, we took that phrase literally. And not the new definition of literally, when we say literally – we mean literally. LibAnswers = Great. LibAnswers w/ Bacon = OMGWHUBAML [Oh My Goodness, where have you been all my life!] With Bacon Translation, scatter these salty bits anywhere and everywhere.
Note: For Vegetarians/Vegans we have ‘Tofu Bacon’ at your disposal.

Bacon language option in LibAnswers


P.S. French and Swedish language options are on the way…no foolin’! 🙂

Outstanding LibGuides v2 Customization – Interview with University of North Florida

If you haven’t had a chance to preview the UNF’s LibGuides customizations, run (don’t walk) your typing fingers over to We chatted with Jeremy Hall, UNF’s Virtual Services Librarian, about their LibGuides customizations, CMS functionality, Springy Tools integration, and the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. Okay, we’re kidding about that last one, can you blame us for an homage to Douglas Adams? Onto our interview with Jeremy, one hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is. 🙂

UNF LibGuides Homepage

UNF LibGuides Homepage


Q. Tell us about your customizations! Shed some techie-light background on what you’ve accomplished.

Most of the customization I’ve done revolves around the LibGuides homepage. I really wanted something that resembled an actual homepage rather than the default LibGuides structure. The CMS used by the university is pretty limited so I’ve put some thought into how we might use LibGuides as kind of a proxy homepage.  It’s going to be a long process but from the beginning the plan was to move as much content as possible from the university system into LibGuides.

I needed to conform to some UNF marketing standards so the header and main menu are very similar to that which is used by the university. It’s built a little bit different but it looks almost identical which is all I needed. Additionally, while we are slowly moving content into LibGuides, not everything resides there yet and some items (catalog, etc.) will never reside in LibGuides so I needed a menu anyway. This particular menu is just a generic bootstrap navbar altered with some CSS.

How we might
use LibGuides as
proxy website

The next important element was integrating our discovery tool which is the core of our business.  We use Ebsco Discovery and their API just doesn’t work with the university CMS so I was very excited to be able to actually use this API to make a nice search box for LibGuides.

Finally, I wanted to integrate as many of our other Springshare products as possible. We use LibCal to dynamically update our hours of operation, to book help sessions with librarians, and just recently, book group study room reservations.  LibAnswers & LibChat widgets were easy to add and help complete the one stop shopping feel I wanted to the LibGuides homepage.

Q. Tell us about your experience with LibGuides v2. How is the new interface and design working for UNF?

I love LibGuides v2!  It’s definitely a huge step up from v1, and really solid right out of the box.  Obviously, to get the most out of it takes some customization but I think you can take it as is and still have a really good site.

Our librarians are pretty happy as the new system is easier to work with for a variety of reasons. The admin side is much better organized and the guide creation process more streamlined.  The ability to edit custom templates has allowed me to customize our templates to include all the required pieces we want in our guides and allow Librarians to work on guide content instead of structure.  A key element for me is the new publishing workflow [LibGuides CMS Only].  Librarians spend time on content generation and can then send the guides to me to adjust structure or implement any special customizations they may have requested.

FSU LibAnswers & LibCal Integration

FSU LibAnswers & LibCal Integration

Q. You’re using LibAnswers and LibCal and you’ve done a beautiful job adding them to your LibGuides CMS homepage. Tell us more!

Well, for starters, Springshare products all tend to be fairly easy to use and inexpensive. Budgets are tight so we appreciate all the bang for our buck. We also have a wide range of technical skills in the library so it’s nice to have a collection of tools that just about anyone can be taught to use.

We’ve pretty much gone all in with every Springshare product we’ve purchased and thrown widgets everywhere.  It’s too soon with the new page to see if it bumps our usage numbers but LibChat and LibAnswers have been popular since they were acquired. Texting in particular has grown quite a bit over the last year or so.

 Q. Tell us more about your LibAnswers growth!

UNF's LibAnswers
LibAnswers growth has been a combination of a few things including homepage placement, emphasis in instruction, and  emphasizing with staff.  We also embedded LibAnswers widgets in our LMS and into the main student portal where they view grades etc.

As for the texting, I think it’s a combination of the above reasons and just the general acceptance of texting as a means of communication. It’s not uncommon for us to have students text us from within the library to make noise complaints and items of that nature.

 Q. Any tips to share with our LibGuides users?

Obviously you need to be pretty familiar with HTML & CSS but I would highly recommend that anyone interested in doing a lot of customizations should spend some quality time learning about Bootstrap.  There’s so much functionality built into bootstrap that is now part of LibGuides that you can do virtually anything!

Thanks for the chat Jeremy! Keep on doing stellar work with your LibGuides CMS system and remember the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42!