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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

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.

16 thoughts on “LibAnswers Update: Chat Improvements and More Coming Soon!”

    1. Hi Keith, glad these updates sound good, we’re excited for them too! For the internal conversations, we’d heard from folks that they’d like access to the history of particularly department discussions (and also 1:1 discussions between operators), and that making discussions/decisions/shared documents more discoverable was helpful for other staff members. With that said, we’ve received a lot of comments about this change on both sides, and I expect that we’ll be adding a privacy scrub option for internal side discussions, so it can be cleared after a period of time that you specify. Hope that makes sense! – Sarah

    2. I also have a comment about internal conversations, however, my interest is in the conversational group. In the prior version, we found it helpful to chat *only with the group currently doing online reference. In that way, we could quickly confer about resources, etc., without having those comments appear to later scheduled operators. The information we liked to share was of an immediate nature and not of interest to anyone other than those currently online serving students. We miss that feature.

      As for archiving conversations, I agree that having the ability to scrub them after a period of time would be a good idea.

      1. Hi Lisa – thanks so much for your comment and apologies for the delay in replying. I’m hopeful that the privacy scrub I mentioned earlier will help with what you’re asking about, and I’ll make sure we get this feature into our next release. In essence, what this will do is allow each site to select a period of time for which they’d like to retain internal chat conversations. For instance, let’s say we add a “24 hours” option – if the site is set to this option, then all internal chats will be cleared every 24 hours (and likely in an off hours time, ie the history would be cleared out overnight relative to your time zone). Patron-side chats can already be archived/cleared out as part of our existing privacy scrub options – to do this, contact our support team and choose how many months worth of data (between 1-12 months) you’d like to retain, and all public side chats older than that time period will be cleared out.
        Thanks again for your feedback Lisa, I hope this explanation makes sense and is closer to what you’re after! Best, -Sarah

  1. Glad to see the change to the number of clicks to close chat! I wanted to make sure, will it be: click on the X then the option to create a ticket will open and then click on the X to close? I am making a guide for my co-workers. Thanks

    1. Hi Dawn, not quite – instead of seeing the “X” button in the top right corner of each chat, once the update rolls out, you’ll instead see options to End Chat and Close Chat. I know that’s not quite what you were picturing, but we weren’t sure about assuming that everyone would want to create a ticket out of every chat, if that makes sense, so the ticket button is still a separate icon. Hope that makes sense! Thanks, -Sarah

      1. Hi Sarah So let me make sure I understand, would it be options to End Chat or Close chat will be in place of the X and when you click that the page clears? No extra page for create a ticket or reference analytics will appear. If so that is really good since those icons will still be in place if someone wants to use them. We don’t use them that often.

        1. Hi Dawn – yes exactly, instead of the X button, there will be a button to End Chat (which ends the chat on the patron side and brings up additional closing options, including the internal note etc.), and then when you’re ready to dismiss the window, there will be a button to Close Chat (which makes the window disappear), and there won’t be an extra page for create a ticket or reference analytics by default.
          And Just to mention, having reference analytics pop up at the end of every chat is a system setting, which you can adjust by going to Admin > System Settings > Require RefAnalytics on Chat close > Choose No. This is off by default, but I wonder if it got turned on for your site at some point.
          Thanks, hope this helps! -Sarah

          1. Hi, I don’t have System settings under Admin. Our library is part of a consortium called Tampa Bay Library Consortium (TBLC) would that option only be available to them?

            1. Hi Dawn – yes that sounds right, it’s a system level admin setting so you’d need the highest level privileges to change it (which I think in your site’s case would be the TBLC group).

    2. Can we make the incoming chats more visible? Maybe larger font and different color than the Departments or Operators list. Maybe have have the Name of the end user flashing.

      1. Hi Dawn – thanks as always for that great feedback! Making new chats more prominent is on our to-do list for our next release, currently slated for mid-September. We have tried out color coding the different types of chats and haven’t had a lot of luck so far, BUT, we do have something in the works that I think will help (and it will reduce the number of required clicks to claim a chat at the same time). We’re going to add a prominent “Claim” button next to any chat waiting to be picked up, in the lefthand list of chats. It definitely helps those chats stand out more, and it adds a visual/color element that draws your eyes to those waiting chats. Thanks again, we’re always listening and really appreciate your feedback!! Best, -Sarah

      1. Hi Laurel, Slaven, Chief Springy, here. Sarah and the dev team are working on implementing all the great feedback our users have been sending, so we’re still in the “polishing” stage for the chat op console – we don’t want to set any hard deadlines yet for the default until we implement all feedback and suggestions. So, keep using whichever version you prefer and please do send us your feedback and ideas and we’ll put it on the to-do list. Thanks so much!

    3. Hi, something that is a BIG issue with chat is not being able to search who is manning a particular department. When someone is working on the Academic desk they have no idea if they are working alone or if there are other people signed in. Can you please look into adding a way to do this. It would be MUCH appreciated! UCF Library part of Tampa Bay Library Consortium

      1. Hi Dawn! Thanks as always for the awesome feedback. 🙂 In a recent update we did add a list of “who’s monitoring this department”, I wonder if you’ve seen it and/or if you had something else in mind? To see this list, click on the Department Chat for ex the Academic Department, then look toward the top-right corner of the resulting chat, & you should see a button for “Department Members”. Click that and you should see a full list of everyone who monitors that department, and whoever is currently online should always rise to the top of that list & should have a green “online” icon (so you don’t have to search). Let me know if this helps, or if you had something else in mind? Thanks so much!

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