LibCal and LibAnswers Major New Functionality Release

Quarantine or not, we’re always busy churning new features and functionality of our platform, based on suggestions and feedback from our customers. This upcoming code release for LibCal and LibAnswers is the best example of our responsiveness to customers’ needs. With librarians pivoting to different service models centered around remote-first teaching and learning, many of you told us that you’d love to be able to conduct research appointments and hold online events via LibCal. We heard you and, a few weeks later – we made it happen.

With LibAnswers/LibChat, many international libraries have taken strong interest in the platform as it’s the most well-rounded communication platform for libraries – but they need the admin/librarian interface to be in their local language. And – you guessed it – we made it happen! Read on for details.

Read about: LibCal | LibAnswers

LibCal – conduct online appointments and online events

LibCal servers in our regions around the world will start getting this new functionality on Monday evening and by Wednesday all regions will be live with this new Online appointments/Online events functionality.

Online Appointments

Up until now, the LibCal appointment booking engine has enabled booking of appointments with the assumption that the patron would go to the library (or the librarian would visit the classroom) to conduct the actual appointment. In the “new normal”, however, a number of these research appointments/consultations will likely be conducted remotely. Enter our LibCal Zoom integration (more integration options coming soon – let us know what other video/communication platforms you want us to integrate). 

Here’s how to enable Zoom integration for Online Appointments in LibCal:

  1. Head to Admin -> Integrations and enter your Zoom API/Key (don’t have institutional Zoom license? We may be able to help – email us at sales@springshare.com).
  2. Online appointments are thought of as happening at their own Location i.e. Online. Create one (or more) Locations to designate that these appointments will be held online. Head to Admin -> Appointments -> Locations to create the Online Location(s).
  3. Each user/librarian who wants to host online appointments must be associated with their Zoom account. Head to Admin -> Users and enable Zoom for each user that should have this enabled.

And voila… your LibCal appointment scheduler can now handle online appointments via Zoom. Note that the actual online appointment happens in Zoom but LibCal makes it super-easy to schedule it and it automatically includes relevant Zoom meeting URLs in the ICS/CAL calendar file, in the email notification to the patron, and in the admin interface for the librarian. So they all just need to click on the link and jump into the meeting.

Online Events

With this new feature you’ll be able to create online events in LibCal, and patrons browsing the event calendars will be able to filter/browse by event type (Onsite or Online).

What’s neat is that you don’t have to host the online event in Zoom – you can use Facebook Events, or WebEx, or… any platform that lets you hold an online group event. Here’s how to set it up.

  • If using Zoom, Head to Admin -> Integrations and enter your Zoom API/Key (don’t have institutional Zoom license? We may be able to help – email us at sales@springshare.com).
  • When you go to create an event, for “Location” you’ll see 3 options.
  • For Zoom events, the registration option is required and attendees will receive the event URL in their registration email.
  • For other online events (e.g. Facebook Live, etc.) the event URL will be shown on the event page but if there is an access password/pin to access the event – it will be emailed to attendees in the registration email.

Patrons are able to filter and search for online events from public calendars.

Bug Fixes, New Features, & Misc.

  • Customize the contents of your Appointments booking page. Make your own page title and page text for this all-important page. Make it look/feel like just another page on your website. Head to Admin -> System Settings -> Language Options > Appointments Page. Bonus – you can now enter HTML customization for page text, hooray.
  • Add a custom message to public pages for Equipment & Spaces when all items and/or spaces are set to inactive. Head to Admin > Equipment & Spaces > Settings, and look for the new panel titled Inactive Equipment/Spaces Display.
  • Copied Equipment & Space bookings will now check the Banned Email list when creating the new booking.
  • We fixed an issue that allowed regular users with no access to a specific Equipment & Space location to modify bookings.
  • Custom text in the “Today’s Hours” widget now displays only once.
  • We’ve standardized the time format for all Excel exports.
  • Centering text in any RTE located throughout LibCal will now correctly apply inline CSS.

Upcoming LibCal Training Sessions:

Also check out our recorded sessions!

Excited yet? So are we. We look forward to hearing your feedback and suggestions for further improvements.

[Back to Top]


LibAnswers multi-lingual admin interface + few more enhancements

LibAnswers servers in our regions around the world will start getting this new functionality this evening and by Monday, May 4, all regions will be live with this new functionality.

The LibAnswers 2.34.0 release is on its way, and we’re thrilled to bring you international translations for the majority of the LibAnswers admin interface! With this release, the major pages in LibAnswers – which include the LibAnswers Dashboard, LibChat Operator Dashboard, the Ticket Create & Answer pages, Ticket Knowledge Base Explorer, and Chat Transcripts and Statistics – can now be viewed using any of our supported base language customizations. To date, in addition to English, we also support French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, and Serbian (Cyrillic).

When the 2.34.0 release goes live, your LibAnswers system will be rendered in the default base language selection that your Admins have set up under Admin > System Settings > Base Language. All users with a LibAnswers login will also be able to change their personal language display on the fly, by using the dropdown option included in the footer of every LibAnswers administrative page.

New in LibChat and Shared Group Systems

In addition to our very exciting language customization updates, we have several new features rolling out in LibChat and for Shared Group Systems!

  • Create Follow-Up Tickets from the Co-Op > Transcripts View. This new view is especially helpful in cases where you’ve concluded a chat interaction while monitoring a Co-Op, but perhaps forgot to create the local follow-up ticket while you still had the chat in view. Just head to LibChat > Co-Op Dashboard > Transcripts to view the new icon for creating follow-up tickets.
  • Proactive Chat with Co-Op Fallback. We know how crucial it is to offer your patrons assistance at the point of need, so we’ve updated our approach to creating chat widgets. Now, it’s possible to create a proactive widget (i.e. a widget that prompts the user whether they need assistance via a pop-out) and include a Co-Op as a fallback option. In practice, when you create this type of widget, the widget will only behave proactively when your local librarians are online and monitoring chat; if your local librarians aren’t online, but your widget is displaying as online because it’s being monitored by Co-Op librarians, then the widget will not proactively prompt the patron. To set your widgets as proactive, head to LibChat > Chat Widgets > Choose a Button, Slide-out or Floating widget > Enter a time in seconds in the Autoload Delay field.
  • LibChat Wait Time Counter. We’ve added a new timer feature in the LibChat operator dashboard to indicate how long a new chat patron has been waiting for their chat to be answered. This new timer is displayed on all new chats.
  • Group Admin Updates for Shared Group Systems. We’ve added two new key permissions for the new Group Admin account level in Shared Group Systems: Group Admins can now edit the group policy FAQ(s) for their group and can leave feedback on transcripts that a Co-Op answered on chats that originated from widgets connected to their Group Member Library.

Bug Fixes & Performance Improvements

  • We’ve added a message to alert patrons when they attempt to upload an unsupported file type.
  • We’ve fixed a bug when creating Macros. Previously, if your site only had access to one queue, the modal window did not display the list of users required for assigning tickets to a specific user.
  • We’ve fixed a bug when setting LibChat Default Queues to Monitor. Sites with access to just one queue were not seeing an option under Edit Account > LibChat Settings > Default Queues to Monitor that would allow the user to not monitor that one Queue when first logging into LibChat.
  •  We’ve implemented a number of performance improvements in the Tickets Knowledge Base Explorer > Statistics pages and when creating new Tickets and FAQs. While these updates aren’t directly visible, you should now see speedier load times and an overall improved experience for these pages.

Upcoming LibAnswers Training Sessions:

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

That’s it for this round of updates from Springy HQ, but stay tuned for more mid-May when a few other things will be coming your way.

We want to give a shout-out to our entire community in these uncertain times. We see how you are retooling your libraries and educational offerings to meet users where they are (at home, like us!), and we are proud to be a part of the vibrant industry that is libraryland. Stay safe and well, out there, Springy fam! We are always here for you if have any suggestions or questions.

15 comments

  1. John Chavez says:

    Hi, Sarah,
    Is it possible to use WebEx instead of Zoom with this calendar scheduling app? Our District system supports WeBeX due to security issues with Zoom.

    • Slaven says:

      Hi John, Slaven here – thanks so much for your suggestion. We hope you and your colleagues are staying safe and healthy amid covid-19 crisis. We are looking into Cisco WebEx and Microsoft Teams as the next platforms to integrate with. A lot depends on what kind of API functionality and integrations they provide but rest assured we’re looking into it and these two are our top choices/requests based on the feedback to date. Please check back with us in a month or so for an update – you can email our support team or send me a note directly. Thanks so much. Stay well!

  2. Sam says:

    When does this update go live?

  3. Liz says:

    We’d love to use this to offer one on one appointments to students, but as far as I can tell, we’re still stuck with only one set of booking form questions and don’t really want to ask students all the classroom/instruction information we ask faculty when they request instruction, but would like to be able to know more about their assignment before our meeting. Is there a way to ask different questions that I’m missing?

    • Talia says:

      We totally understand the need to be able to support more than just one booking form per user on the user level only. We are currently discussing the best way to accommodate for this in the Appointments module, along with the ability to streamline other aspects such as settings, email templates, etc… which are currently only supported on the individual user level and deliver this expanded functionality in the near term future.

  4. Lee Blyth says:

    Would it be possible in future to have an online events integration with Blackboard Collaborate? This is the standard remote teaching tool for our institution. Thanks 🙂

    • Neil Levine says:

      Hi Lee,

      Thanks for letting us know that you are interested in seeing a Blackboard Collaborate integration. I’ve added your info to the mix so that we can keep track of how many folks are interested this integration. Keep an eye on our blog for updates, we will surely post there once we have more info!

      We really appreciate your feedback and excitement over this new functionality!

  5. Austin says:

    Hi,

    Is there any way to add Zoom password integration into the API so the auto-generated zoom meetings through libcal have passwords? Even when I changed my zoom account settings to password only, the libcal integration still produces a meeting link with no password. We have a strict password only policy and only want our registrations to receive one email containing all of the information.

    Thank you

    • Neil Levine says:

      Hi Austin,

      Thank you for writing in with this request for the Zoom integration. We recently had a few other LibCal users request this functionality and from what we have seen thus from from the Zoom API documentation this looks to be possible through the integration. This is currently in our development queue and we will be looking to get this released in the near future.

      Best,
      Neil

  6. Our tabbed boxes are suddenly not formatting properly. Is there something amiss or that we are missing?

    • Slaven says:

      Hi Richard, sorry about this – could you please send more info to our support team with the screenshot and the URL of where this is happening and our team will help asap.

  7. Sarah says:

    Is there any plan to allow this function for free instances of LibCal? We have LibCal as an addition to our LibGuides and LibWizard accounts but currently there is just a message that integrations are disabled. I was very disappointed since there wasn’t a note to that effect in the update that this ability to meet our patrons where they are wouldn’t be available to everyone on LibCal. Thanks.

    • Slaven says:

      Hi Sarah, sorry about this omission on our end – we have not offered LibCal free version for a while now, so this is why we didn’t mention (unintentionally, I assure you) in the blog post that this does not apply to the free version. Unfortunately we are unable to offer full functionality to LibCal free systems because there are significant costs associated with maintaining the system. As a small company we have to be able to recover some of these costs – this is why we had to stop offering the free version. Your free system has been grandfathered since we didn’t want to take it away from those customers who are already on it.
      We can work with you on the pricing for the paid version, to see if you could potentially squeeze the LibCal costs in your budgets. Sorry again for disappointing you.

      Best,
      -Slaven
      Chief Springy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Confirm you aren't spamming: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

%d bloggers like this: