Archive for Laura Creech

How They Did It: Reopening at the University of Hull Library

Recent news and everyday events are showing us over and over again that this week’s plan may no longer be next week’s plan. This makes life… difficult. More than difficult! Especially for those directly in charge of not only keeping themselves and their loved ones healthy and safe but also hundreds or thousands of others as well.

While no two reopening plans will look the same, many of the folks we’re talking to are preparing for in-person services at some point in the future. And some have welcomed people back to the building already. For those still working through their plans or wondering how things are going for those who have opened, they have questions. We have questions! And since this feels like one of those situations where there are never too many (good) questions, we asked them.

An interview with the University of Hull Brynmor Jones Library

Starting in early July, the University of Hull Brynmor Jones Library has slowly been reopening its doors, starting with scheduled Click and Collect pickup services using LibCal Appointments. As they prepared for the fall semester, they needed a way to provide for in-person library visits. LibCal Seats arrived at just the right time, and they launched their Book a Seat service on July 27, 2020! Over the past few weeks, they’ve handled more than 2,000 reservations… so you could say they’re Seats experts by now. 😉

As one of the first institutions we knew that reopened their doors, and as one of our first customers to go live with Seats, we saw this as a good opportunity to check in with them and ask them to share their reopening process, hoping others would find it helpful as well. We sent them over a long list of questions, and they were so kind as to answer them for us! 😀 You can find their answers below – covering everything from space and seat setup to implementation to future expansion.

Preparing for their reopening

Libraries around the world are figuring out their reopening plans. Can you tell us a bit about yours? How often is your library allowing students in the building, and how many at a time?

Our entire team has been working remotely since the end of March, so we were excited to start planning our safe return to physical Library services for early July. Initially, we started with scheduled returns and ‘click and collect’ services using LibCal Appointments, which were fully booked [Springy edit: Spaces can be used for pickup, too!]. We were one of the first libraries to purchase the Seats extension on LibCal Spaces, and we have successfully launched our ‘book a seat’ service three weeks ago, again, fully booked. Now our returns and ‘click and collect’ services are available without appointments and during our opening hours. At the moment we are operating in our physical space Monday through Friday with reduced hours of 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

It’s been essential for us to try and provide all our usual library services with as little disruption as possible to the customer experience while implementing measures to keep everyone safe. We decided to space all our bookable seats at least two meters apart, and this has allowed us to open our study spaces at 30% capacity. The Brynmor Jones Library is large, eight floors in all, so we’ve taken a cautious approach by initially opening up three floors. At the moment, that’s just over 100 customers, but this will more than double when we open up all floors to the Library at the start of the next semester.

People want to know — how did you organize your Seats and Spaces for your library? How long can students visit? Which booking restrictions did you enable in LibCal, if any? Why?

Our University’s Health & Safety Team walked our Library spaces with us and we had a discussion about what variety of spaces we needed accessible, and then we measured and mapped out how that would look. With our bookable seats available on three floors and in different rooms, we allocated a letter to each section of the floor and numbered each seat, including those that would not be initially bookable. This allows us to expand the number of bookable seats in the future, should distancing rules change. When students book a seat online, they can see a map of the space and understand where, for instance, B1 might be located. We printed large versions of the maps for our check-in desk at the Library entrance, which helps us to direct customers to their bookings.

To make the process easy for staff and customers we have limited each space to one booking per day, meaning the customer can book from 9:30 am-4:30 pm continuously, or any abbreviated time within. We achieved this by adding 6 hours of padding to each booking so no matter what time students book a seat, they get it for the day. We still let them choose an arrival time in the system so we know when to expect them. It has also enabled us to activate the auto-cancellation feature for Seats. This means that any customers who have not arrived and checked-in to their seat will have their reservation cancelled after 30 minutes. This will allow us to keep the Seats available and useable throughout the day. Having experienced the popularity of our ‘book a seat’ service, we will likely limit the number of times a customer can book in one calendar week and also implement two split bookings each day, with a cleaning of the space in-between.

Checking in, checking out, and social distancing

Are you enforcing Seats checking in and out? Using QR codes? How have you set up each seat/station so they can quickly find it?

We are using checking in for all of our seats and spaces. While we have put the QR codes on every desk, at this time our team is manually checking customers in. As the booking is for the entire day, there is currently no need to check out. Our team is creating a bite-size video about how to ‘book a seat’ and check-in using QR codes, ready for the start of the trimester. We’ll likely test this out a few weeks prior to make sure it works as expected.

How are you enforcing social distancing among students and staff? Are you using tape or barriers? Any clever library signage to share? We’d love to see pictures!

The entire Library has been kitted-out with directional signage, making it clear how to enter, exit and move about the floors safely. Hand sanitising units are installed in any space where you are entering, exiting or touching a door or equipment. Spaces that are not accessible are barriered or taped off (we’ve used a combination of both). To make things extra clear, we’ve removed chairs, keyboards and mice from the PCs that are not in use. The current plan is to use these cordoned-off PCs for student remote desktop access, enabling access to specialist software.

Our staff used to work on a roving support model, but have now been assigned to specific work stations or areas for their shift, so there is less moving around now. We have cleaning supplies at every station and staff are encouraged to wipe everything down at the start and end of their shift.

How have you implemented seat cleaning protocol? What workflows are in place so staff know students have arrived and left their seats?

We partnered with our University Cleaning Team to ensure the spaces are thoroughly cleaned before and after each customer uses them. As we move towards two-block bookings, members of the Cleaning Team will come during that lull to clean the spaces, ready for the next customer.

What’s the one Seats feature you’ve found most helpful? Why?

They’re all so helpful! But specifically, I think the auto-cancellation feature will be a massive help for us. As this automatically re-opens a seat for booking if a user does not show up and check it, it will help us make use of every bookable study seat for the majority of our opening hours.

We are just so pleased Seats came along at the right time for us to help quickly and safely provide bookable study spaces to our customers.

Not everyone has opened their doors yet, and they may be reopening soon. They’d like to know, how are things going? What’s working well so far and where have you made adjustments since opening? How has Seats helped with managing and monitoring library activity?

Things are going really well and this is all due to our Customer Experience Team who have been part of the planning for returning physical services to our Library. We are reviewing all our services again before the start of the next semester to see how we can make things safer and easier to manage. This group is also focused on helping us better understand both our customers and our team. I think we all have settled into a routine now with our returns, ‘click and collect’ and ‘book a seat’ services, and we’re now looking at how we can layer on walk-in use of our printers and face-to-face appointments for Library support. This is already on top of our live chat, email support portal, and collections services, many of which we continue to provide remotely. We are just so pleased Seats came along at the right time for us to help quickly and safely provide bookable study spaces to our customers.

Expanding building availability & future plans

Looking at your LibCal site, I see that you’re planning for the future – your inactive 3rd-6th floors are already added! Can you let us know what your plans are for those floors and how you’re going to make them active over time? What factored into your decision?

As soon as we signed-up for Seats we undertook a full building audit and realised we could offer around 250 desk-based seats while facilitating 2m social distancing. As we’ve opened up over the summer period, which is quieter, we decided to launch approximately 80 seats on our first three floors. This allowed us to trial our new service, made it easier for our staff to manage and ensured we had sufficient cleaning in place. The system was so popular we made another 30 seats available within our second week. As we approach semester time, we are working to onboard the rest of our seats in the building. As things progress, we will re-open our study rooms for booking (through spaces) and further investigate the possibility of making our non-desk based seating (armchairs, sofas and so on) available.

The system was so popular we made another 30 seats available within our second week.

We’ve been working with a large range of library sizes — and even non-library folks, like IT departments — looking to implement a campus-wide solution. Was your meeting with the University’s Health & Safety Team part of a larger coordinated effort? How did the library work with, and will continue to work with, the larger university system on reopening plans and how Seats fits into this strategy?

Our University Library is a much-loved space on our campus, and it was one of our University’s number one priorities for facilitating in-person access. The University has a Covid Response Team who are driving the good work behind the wider reopening plans on campus. Health & Safety participate in this discussion and decision making. They are currently in the process of reviewing all areas of the campus to make decisions on how each space can adapt and safety open to our team and customers. We were one of the first buildings to reopen on campus, and the efforts are still taking place with other spaces. Our Health & Safety advisors listened carefully to what we wanted to achieve and helped us build safe systems around those services.

We are certainly going to be looking at how we can use Seats to its full capacity within the Library and I imagine we’ll be sharing the merits of this system with our colleagues across the University as planning progresses.


Many thanks to Rachel Welch, Lee Fallin, and Lisa Bolt for providing an in-depth look into their reopening process and how visits are going! We hope things continue to go smoothly for them and their students (and please share your Book a Seat video with us once it’s complete — we all want to see it 😀 )!

To check out their Spaces and Seats site in action, head to: https://libcal.hull.ac.uk/r. You can also learn more about their Book a Seat program by heading to their library website.

For more general information about Seats, take a look at our webinar and get in touch from our LibCal Buzz guide. If you have any questions, please drop us a line!

Missed It? Watch it! SpringyCamp 2020 Recordings Available

Last week’s SpringyCamp was one for the books! We were thrilled so many from the Springy community joined us for camp. Over two days (for a total of four sessions), we got to see what others are up to, hear new ideas, and just generally find inspiration for how to expand services and explore ways to engage students and patrons in this “new normal.” All of our presenters deserve a huge round of applause for their time and efforts!

In case you missed it, it’s not too late to make a batch of s’mores, settle into a comfy chair, and watch the presentation videos. Have questions for the presenters? Want to give kudos? Head on over to our Getting Ready for Camp guide to find instructions on how to join the conversation.

You can even claim an official SpringyCamp 2020 Attendee badge for your Lounge profile! Just head to that badge’s page (make sure you’ve logged in) and use the Request Badge button!

A few Springy favorites:

We had so many well organized, thoughtfully created presentations this year, that we were impressed with each and every one. Here are a few fan favorites, picked because of the timeliness of the topic, engagement it generated during and after the session, and positive feedback we received!

You can watch recordings from all of our excellent presenters, download their slides, and jump to their additional resources from the SpringyCamp 2020 guide. Check them out below!

Using Springshare Tools to Manage & Record COVID-19 Information

New Partnerships: Using Springshare Tools Outside of the Library

Connections: Your Library & Social Justice – Amplify Black Voices with Springshare Tools

We’re All Distance Learners Now: Using Springshare Tools to Share Information with Staff and Patrons

ICYMI: Using LibGuides to Support Racial Justice & Create Inclusive Communities

During these frenetic times, it’s easy to miss an email or overlook an article you’d normally love to see. And while it’s the weekend.. almost… before our brains check out for the week, we wanted to highlight a few recent must-sees from the Springy community. If you have ten, or better yet, 30 minutes, we highly, highly recommend taking a look!

Must-Read: SpringyNews Article by Twanna Hodge

In case you missed it, last week’s edition of SpringyNews included an extra special guest. Written by Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Librarian Twanna Hodge from the University of Florida, it addresses an important point – LibGuides are much more than resource webpages. They are part of how we represent our communities online. How can we engage our guide readers, cultivate inclusivity, support anti-racism, and move them to act?

Guides can provide necessary and helpful information and resources, but the work does not stop at creating a guide. Fighting for racial justice and creating inclusive communities is a consistent, life-long journey that takes time, effort, and resources. Racism is pervasive and permeates all areas of society, including libraries. Libraries do not operate outside of society, and isms and phobias are inherent in the people who work within them and the very structures of our organizations. Lean into your discomfort. Fail forward.

In her piece, Twanna continues to answer three important questions:

  1. What are resources that guide owners can provide that non-BIPOC creators tend to overlook?
  2. How can guides be built to make all users welcome and promote inclusivity?
  3. How can guides be used to start, continue, and move the conversation forward and to action?

Along the way, she points readers to some helpful resources, including:

Her article isn’t to be missed. To read it, head on over to the LibGuides Tricks page of July’s SpringyNews edition: Communities Reimagined.

Must-Watch: SpringyCamp Presentations on Amplifying Black Voices with Springshare Tools

In light of recent events, this year’s SpringyCamp added a special subtheme, Connections: Your Library & Social Justice – Amplify Black Voices with Springshare Tools. And while SpringyCamp wrapped up its two-day camp just yesterday, its recorded videos are already live!

We were thrilled to hear from Shaina V. Destine and Allison L. Sharp from the University of Tennessee Libraries and Lorin Jackson and Naja Smith from Swarthmore College.

They brought their own experiences and expertise to the table to present on creating LibGuides to recognize and include diversity, provide new opportunities to work with and engage students and faculty, and build and share collection materials from marginalized voices.

Head on over to the SpringyCamp 2020 guide to watch both days of presentations.

Here at Springshare, we’re committed to amplifying Black voices and using our tools to support anti-racism and foster inclusivity.  We thank our recent contributors for lending their voices, and we hope they’ll be widely shared within the Springy community!

SpringyCamp 2020 Registration Opens Tomorrow!

Summer is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere, which means two things: we’ve swapped comfy pants for comfy shorts; and we’re getting close to SpringyCamp!

In a year unlike any other when services dramatically changed (and are still changing), the Springy team wanted to host an extra special virtual conference for our customers. To that end, we’re bringing you two exciting days of camp with an expanded list of presenters! Plus, new ways to engage and interact with other Springy users!

SpringyCamp 2020 – August 5th & 6th
The New Now: Promoting Access & Redefining Services

This year’s camp will explore four themes:

  • Using Springshare Tools to Manage & Record COVID-19 Information
  • New Partnerships: Using Springshare Tools Outside of the Library
  • We’re All Distance Learners Now: Using Springshare Tools to Share Information with Staff and Patrons
  • Connections: Your Library & Social Justice – Amplify Black Voices with Springshare Tools

SpringyCamp Registration & Sneak Peek

Registration opens tomorrow, and we’ll have all of SpringyCamp’s details in our training newsletter – landing in inboxes at 12pm US ET!
Not currently a subscriber? Sign up on our website.

Updated: You can now view the full lineup and register from our SpringyCamp 2020 guide!

In the meantime, here’s a glimpse into what some of our camp presenters are cooking up to share with attendees:

  • Real-World Readiness: Using LibGuides to Wade Through the COVID-19 FloodPoster Session!
    Carrie Price and Katie Lobner, Welch Medical Library, Johns Hopkins University
  • Empowering Staff and Facilitating Remote Work with LibAnswers
    Amanda Scull, Dartmouth College Biomedical Libraries
  • Using LibGuides and LibWizard to Create Online Escape Rooms
    Rachel Valentine, Blinn College Library
  • Creating & Hosting OER using LibGuides CMSPoster Session!
    Nikki Rech and Jeff Mortimore, Georgia Southern University
  • Lessons Learned from Moving to LibGuides and LibCalPoster Session!
    Sam Torrez, Dickinson Public Library
  • LibGuides and Digital Literacy for the New Online Student: An Academic Reference Librarian’s Approach to Faculty Collaborations
    Kimberly Michelle Gay, John B. Coleman Library, Prairie View A&M University
  • LibGuides Beyond the Library
    Nadine Bailey and Stephen Taylor, Western Academy of Beijing

All of us have learned a lot this year, and we’ve still got a lot left to figure out. While SpringyCamp always provides a great opportunity for Springys to come together and share ideas, we’re feeling the importance of this community event more acutely than ever. We hope you’ll join us!

LibCal Seats Is Just Around the Corner!

Here at Springy HQ we’re buzzing with excitement over our upcoming LibCal seat reservations module and building capacity management features. We’re launching this week, yay!

Today, let’s take a look at how the new LibCal Seats module will work using a specific library example.

The scenario: A two-branch library with multiple reservable areas

I’m responsible for managing the comings and goings for two libraries — East Library and West Library. In our East Library we have two reading areas, 10 quiet study tables, a set of 15 computers, and three study rooms. I need to:

  • Ensure my building does not exceed 50% capacity so that users can be in the library safely while complying with social distancing policies.
  • Provide staff with the ability to easily assist users who forget their booking information.
  • Keep track of building capacity stats and historical booking information for contact tracing purposes.
  • Implement a long-term, flexible solution we can use at every reopening stage, even when we’re back to full capacity.

Let’s take a look at how I can achieve all of the above using the East Library’s Lounge seating area as an example!

Configuring Seats from the admin side

First, I’ll create my LibCal Spaces Locations: one for East Library, one for West Library. Then I’ll create my Zones. In my library, there are two distinct building areas – two floors. I’ll add a Zone for each:

  • First Floor (stacks, periodical reading chairs, computers, reference & circulation desks)
  • Second Floor (study rooms and carrels, lounge seating)

Next, I’ll add different categories of Spaces that will determine booking limits (like reservation durations and restrictions). Since we’ll need to clean/disinfect seats and computer stations after each use, I’ll add padding between reservations.

After defining categories, I’ll add my individual Spaces to them. Spaces can be booked as a whole (e.g. study rooms, meeting rooms) or individually as seats (like a computer, table chair, lounge armchair, you name it). I can also indicate if the space is accessible.

To ensure I do not exceed 50% capacity at any time, I can indicate a Spaces’ current capacity vs maximum capacity and set the proper number of active/inactive Seats. If I was setting up the entire East Library Location, it could look something like:

  • Lounge seating space (capacity: 9, 6 active seats, 3 inactive seats)
  • Periodical reading space (capacity: 6, 2 active, 4 inactive)
  • Computer space (capacity: 15, 8 active, 7 inactive)
  • Quiet study tables (capacity: 10, 6 active, 4 inactive)
  • Study room 1 (capacity: 4, 1 person currently allowed)
  • Study room 2 (capacity: 4, 1 person currently allowed)
  • Study room 3 (capacity: 2, 1 person currently allowed)

Next, I’ll create my reservable Seats for my Spaces! I could add Seats in bulk by specifying the variable for the naming convention (e.g. Armchair-1 through Armchair-6). By adding all of them now, I can set them to active or inactive, to quickly adjust their availability based on our capacity restrictions, cleaning schedules, and reopening plans.

Here are ten reading chair seats. Based on their location, a total of six can be reserved.

I can provide each Seat/Space with a description and image to help users find it. In this case, I also gave each chair its own name so it’s easily identifiable. If I choose to enable QR codes, I’ll print each one and post it next to its corresponding chair along with the seat name and reserving information. If I didn’t want to start with QR codes, that’s fine too – users can check-in/checkout using a simple URL that I’ll advertise throughout the library (and in the booking confirmation emails, too).

Now, I’m all set up for patron reservations!

Booking Seats from the patron side

Let’s switch to a user who’s looking to spend a couple of hours to do some quiet reading in the library on Friday.

  1. First, they’ll head over to the library’s LibCal site and view available Seats and times. They’ll select the time, the Seat they prefer, and enter their email and other information (the booking form is fully customizable).
    1. This is where I can also enable a LibAuth connection, to authenticate patrons against my authentication layer before they can book their Seat/Space.
  2. They’ll receive a confirmation email with a unique three-character confirmation code.
  3. At the booking time, they’ll arrive at the library, find their Seat, and either scan the QR code (if available) or enter the check-in URL, and type in the three-character confirmation code from the email.
  4. At the end of the reservation period, they will check out – again either by scanning the QR code next to the seat (if available) or by entering the short URL.
    1. If the patron does not check out by themselves, the system will automatically check out on their behalf right at the end of the reserved time.

Managing bookings on the admin side

At any time, my staff can view upcoming Seats bookings as well as monitor the current capacity from the new Location Capacity Utilization dashboard. If a patron can’t remember their unique three-digit code, we can click on their unique booking record on the dashboard and manually check them in/out.

As a staff member, I can quickly see how the Second Floor’s Space/Seats are currently being utilized.

Additionally, building managers can access any previous booking records organized by Zone or Space, if needed for contact tracing purposes. To protect patron privacy, we also have the option to enable personal data scrubbing which periodically erases all identifiable booking information (but keeps the general booking record for statistical purposes).


Easy-peasy. We have exciting plans for LibCal Seats too (e.g. interactive mapping/reservations is coming soon) so this is just the beginning of something really great when it comes to Seats bookings in LibCal! We also look forward to implementing your feedback and suggestions as soon as you start using the new module.

In case you haven’t heard yet, we have several dates where you can see this new add-on module in action!

Product Demo Days

For those who are considering adding LibCal Seats to your subscription, we have some product demos lined up just for you:

We added more dates! See available seats on our calendar.

For those unable to make one of these dates/times, we’ll share the recorded video on Twitter and Facebook as soon as it’s available!

If you have any questions about LibCal Seats, please drop our sales team a line!

Customer Training Days

For those who have already added LibCal Seats and will be ready to dive into the nitty-gritty details, our LibCal Seats – Get Your Library Ready to Reopen Safely training sessions are already posted! Sign up for:

  • Monday, August 10, 2020 from 1:00pm – 2:00pm ET – Register!
  • Wednesday, August 19, 2020 from 12:00pm – 1:00pm ET – Register!
  • Thursday, August 27, 2020 from 12:00pm – 1:00pm ET – Register!

As always, we will add a video of our recorded session to our training video library as soon as it’s ready!

We have exciting plans for LibCal Seats (like mapping!), and we’ve been touched by the overwhelming response we’ve had to this new, needed functionality. In a time when we don’t feel like we have a lot of control over our lives, it’s been helpful to channel this energy into something we firmly believe will help others. Thank you, as always, for being on board with us. Contact us anytime, for any reason – we’re here for you.

Online Learning Made Easier with LibGuides LTI & E-Reserves

After months of pandemic-related anxiety and uncertainty and two weeks of pain, turmoil, and unrest here in the United States, only one thing feels certain: the days keep ticking forward. The new school year will be here before we know it.

As colleges and universities plan for a 100% or partially remote fall semester (or even academic year), librarians are acutely aware that pandemic + economic uncertainty + personal stressors = students and staff with less mental space for learning and teaching. And for many, trying to navigate an online course using a computer adds even more anxiety and confusion.

Reducing the number of clicks required to find this week’s reading, search library materials, and reach someone to ask a question will go a long, long way in lessening a student’s cognitive load so they have the mental space to learn the class material.

Fortunately, Springshare has some options available to natively integrate library resources and course materials right into existing courseware tools!

LibGuides LTI: Guided learning pathways that reduce unnecessary noise

For those unfamiliar with LibApps Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI), it allows you to embed your LibGuides CMS and E-Reserves module content right into your learning management system (LMS) like Blackboard, Canvas, or Moodle.

Your students may already be used to logging into your LMS to access their courses. They may also be familiar with heading to LibGuides to finding library information, subject guides, and databases. But combining them with LibGuides LTI provides two major advantages:

  • For students, there’s only one place they need to go to find information. This means one log in to remember and one webpage to bookmark.
  • For library staff, you can present relevant resources at the moment students are receptive to seeing them, making students more likely to remember and use them.

Students easily forget library links in their welcome emails and syllabi. With LTI integration, the database, course reading, and/or the subject guide is right there when they need it. It makes life easier for library staff, too, as there’s no need to add guide links manually to an LMS course or rely on asking faculty to add them to their courses for you.

There are two LTI integration options, and you can choose either or both!

  • Manual works just like it sounds — the LMS user selects the guide, page, box, database list, or E-Reserves course to add right to the course.
  • Automagic allows you to utilize LMS course and guide and/or E-Reserves metadata to match the relevant guide(s) and E-Reserves content to the LMS course.
    • It also comes with a handy library page where you can show matching LibGuides results and optionally embed LibAnswers chat and FAQ search widgets, LibCal Spaces and Appointment booking widgets, and subject librarians.

The E-Reserves module: Deliver online course materials & manage eDocuments

Speaking of E-Reserves content, a primarily online learning environment has created new challenges for getting course materials to students. Requests need to be processed, items need to be linked or uploaded and attached to their respective courses, and access needs to be limited.

Meanwhile, you need to manage copyright information and find a way to make the materials available right where the students need them. And provide a simple way for faculty to request E-Reserves content and manage the item’s entire life cycle.

Our E-Reserves module can be added to either a LibGuides or LibGuides CMS subscription, and it comes with some huge plusses:

  • It’s affordable. With competitive pricing, you can justify its cost for a partially online learning environment. If your campus suddenly closes, its reusable and flexible nature allows it to handle an uptick to fully online learning, too.
  • There’s no need for a new account for library staff already using LibGuides, and admins can customize access to E-Reserves for library staff and faculty.
  • You’re working within an already familiar interface — staff will access E-Reserves right from within LibGuides.
  • Seamlessly add courses to existing guides as a page. Use E-Reserves metadata to add it right your LMS course.
  • Optionally require student logins to access courses with LibAuth or use course/item passwords.
  • Allow students to find E-Reserves content with a LibGuides search. You can choose to allow course and item search indexing.
  • Easily integrate E-Reserves courses into your catalog/discovery layer using OAI-PMH harvesting.

E-Reserves can be used for eDocument management and sharing too! So don’t think of it as just being used for sharing professor-selected eresources.

For sites looking to natively integrate course readings into their LMS and their catalog, adding the E-Reserves module to LibGuides just makes sense.


While issues related to a lack of digital literacy and internet access are not new, overcoming them will now become a requirement for student success. Some questions for how to address them require long-term efforts and systemic changes. However, using available tools like LibGuides LTI and E-Reserves will reduce confusion and frustration. And help prevent student fatigue and information overload by reducing barriers to needed resources once they’re in their courses.

Want to learn more?

You’ve Switched to Remote Services… And the Numbers Show It

As libraries across the globe quickly pivoted to online services in response to the pandemic, we’ve been seeing some really interesting early numbers that illustrate the size of this sudden change in library services. We wanted to share these with you, along with some information about what we’ve been doing on our end to support you all during this time.

Spikes in LibAnswers and LibGuides = Librarians hard at work

Since March 2020, we recorded these numbers in LibAnswers activity compared to March-April 2019:

  • Incoming chats increased by 109%. To put this in perspective, that’s a total of 338,794 LibAnswers chats in less than two months.
  • Our 24/7 librarians fielded 5,677 chats on the new 24/7 LibAnswers Cooperative platform. Each of these represents a chat that would have gone unanswered.
  • Patron-submitted questions increased by 56%, which equals 303,273 queries sent via email, social, SMS, and question form since March.
  • FAQ creation increased by a whopping 217% as 13,017 FAQs were added to public and internal staff FAQ groups.

In LibGuides, library staff created more than 26,000 new guides — that’s roughly a 96% increase compared to last year!

First off, kudos to all of the librarians answering this multitude of questions and creating new content quickly for all of your users. Each one of these numbers represents a person you helped during this crisis. These statistics show how critical it is for librarians to be able to share essential information online while you’re unable to provide in-person assistance.

What we’ve been up to at Springy HQ

It’s been an all hands on deck effort for the Springy team. In addition to our official update on the pandemic, we’ve been working diligently to support you while you’re helping all of these patrons so you can answer questions, share updates, and meet with them from anywhere. This has translated some pretty big numbers on our end, too, and here’s how we’ve handled them.

  • As support tickets skyrocketed, the team adjusted its internal processes to ensure swift responses. Customer queries are up 27% since March 2020 compared to this time last year, and the majority of customer questions are fully answered and closed within one business day.
  • The team launched a new training series dedicated to libraries transitioning to online learning and reference and managing remote workplaces. In March, training attendance was up 198% and video viewership increased by 211% compared to March 2019.
  • We bolstered infrastructure to support increased usage to handle the extra load.

Speaking of training, we’ll be announcing May’s training schedule, which includes our new What is LibAnswers with LibChat? session on May 7th, in this week’s training newsletter. Don’t receive our newsletters yet? Sign up to get them in your inbox.

What’s ahead

  • We donated our platform to the Librarian Reserve Corps, an international volunteer network of over 120 medical, public health, and health science librarians supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) and the WHO Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) with their urgent information needs related to COVID-19. Their sites were installed in just over 24 hours. Read our interview with them next week on this blog!
  • In the coming weeks, we’ll be announcing several exciting (and major) product updates to further help our customers as they pivot to different service models.

We hope you are safe and well where you are, and thank you for being on board with us! We promise to continue to provide stellar tools and superior customer support to help you navigate this difficult period.

Supporting Patrons During the Pandemic Using Springshare Tools

Before we dive into today’s blog post, we want to take a moment to thank all librarians and library workers on National Librarian Day (one day late). Thank you! The world is made better by librarians, and we certainly would not be here without you. 😄 If we could virtually hug each and every one of you, we would!

Librarians are problem solvers. Librarians are information seekers. Most importantly, when librarians see a need, they step up. Springshare tools were created with their unique needs in mind, and we’ve been excited to see the impressive and creative ways our customers have been using them to address their communities’ needs during this pandemic.

Today we’re bringing you three examples out of the many libraries doing just that. When their physical doors closed and resource sharing needs quickly shifted, they sprang into action with Springshare tools at their side.

Creating a Responsive COVID-19 Resource Hub for Health Care Workers


Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) Library Services

The need: “As Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), our provincial health authority, formally stood up its response to COVID-19, content creation rolled into high gear. We had a high volume of information being produced, particularly in the realm of clinical guidance documents, as well as communications/SOPs on infection prevention and control. NSHA’s operational efforts in responding to the pandemic required a vast array of just in time information. This required content management specialists, but also the appropriate tool to get this information to the front line as quickly as possible, knowing that the front line for NSHA means clinics that were standing up in rural areas, busy urban ICUs, physician offices and everything in between. It needed to be outside the firewall, and yet separate from the patient focused communications.”

The solution: In late March, NSHA Library Services purchased a second LibGuides site to serve as their COVID-19 Hub for NSHA health care workers. It launched in just one week!

“After an analysis of our existing tools, we decided to combine Springshare LibGuides (leaning heavily on the Database asset feature) with a legacy document management tool. We host documents in our existing document management system, which provides an archiving function, version control, and permalinks.”

The hub provides a way for the NSHA team to quickly access the information they need. On the backend, the library can add new content that will automatically publish everywhere it needs to be used thanks to Database widgets embedded on guide pages.

The outcome: While it’s still early, the site is already generating approximately 3,000 visits a day.

“[LibGuides] made the Hub possible. When faced with an emergent and quickly developing situation, the Springshare platform offered us the ease of development and the user responsiveness required to meet the competing demands of the situation…. Having this tool at our fingertips and being able to impose some organization on the information coming out (and making it accessible to those who need it) may truly make a difference in a life-or-death situation.”

Engaging Students and Supporting Parents Across an Entire School System


Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) Media Services

The need: “In Lincoln Public Schools, our libraries serve over 42,000 students who were suddenly home for undetermined amount of time. We recognized that our Library Services could offer unique and engaging learning opportunities to keep kids reading, writing, and creating while staying safe at home. We know that parents are anxious to provide structure and meaningful learning for their children, but the flood of resources and random activities that overwhelmed our social media streams are not necessarily helpful.”

The solution: The library quickly created their Daily Learning Challenges guide — an all hands on deck effort to encourage creative learning, engage children and teens, and support their parents at home. Using LibGuides, they collaborated district-wide to create a platform that initially filled a much-needed gap while their school district organized its remote learning effort. Now that it’s in place, the guide continues to positively engage its students.

The outcome: “We have had a tremendous response to the resources we have been providing.  Parents genuinely appreciate the structure our Daily Challenge LibGuides provide to their child’s day and the creative learning that happens as a result. We have had between 5000-6000 visitors to our Daily Challenges LibGuide each day.”

“This has been a huge, ongoing effort by all our district school librarians. They’ve pulled out all the stops to design challenges that will inspire and excite students every single day. The collaborative nature of LibGuides gives us the structure and organization we need to keep this initiative going for as long as we are out of school.”

Supporting Patrons Social Distancing & Connecting them to Library Services


The Westport Library

The need: “We realized early on that folks in our community were going to still need our library, even if we were not open physically. We tried to think of how we could turn our physical resources into virtual from programming, to readers advisory, to reference help.”

The solution: After brainstorming how they could create a virtual library as robust as their physical library, the reference team was “LibGuideing like fiends” to quickly launch the Stuck at Home series. This visually engaging guide was so popular that it created two spin-offs: Navigating Virtual Living and Sports, Sports, Sports!

The outcome: They’re continuing to publish content important to their patrons. Meanwhile, their views have skyrocketed. In the first 35 days after they closed, they have had 69,334 views across all of our guides. In the previous 35 days, they had 32,858 views. That’s more than double!

“Every time we post one of our guides on social, the community response has been positive… On a side note, we have never received so many requests from other libraries to borrow our Libguide designs! For those reading this, we are always thrilled to share!”

“We have used Libguides for several years now, and we have loved it for as long as we have used it. Now, when we don’t have the option of a physical gathering space and a physical reference desk, we are able to produce a Libguide for our community on topics that are important to them.”

Transitioning to Online Learning with LibGuides & LibWizard at the Kent School

As librarians are figuring out how to reach their communities in new ways, we’ve loved seeing the flurry of resources and tips shared online, new guides, and all kinds of creative solutions. While we’ve created new training sessions and provided project ideas on the Springshare end, it’s often most helpful and reassuring to hear from someone who’s right there in the trenches with you.

Today we’ve brought in special guest Nancy Florio to discuss her experience as a research librarian at the Kent School as they quickly shifted to online learning, and how they used LibGuides CMS and LibWizard Lite to meet their students’ changing needs. She’s written a wonderful post. Take it away, Nancy!

LibGuides for Online Learning

Research Librarian Nancy Florio

For most educators and librarians, the COVID-19 pandemic became a demarcation line, on one side a “before”—when offering blended or online classes was optional—and on the other side an “after”—when schools closed world-wide and there was no option but to move to remote learning. The most current statistics compiled by UNESCO on April 8, 2020, list 91.3% of the world’s students are impacted by 188 country-wide school closings. This means that 1,576,021,818 students are currently without access to education or are learning in online classes.

I see these closings as a call to action for academic and school librarians, who in the “before” Covid-19 world were already curators of electronic resources and ed tech tools, creators of digital content, and educational collaborators. If you are one of the close to half a million librarians currently using LibGuides, then you know you’re in a perfect position to support your institution’s transition to online learning. Don’t miss this opportunity to prove your relevance in the age of freely available information found through any basic Google search.

Curate and Create Resources to Meet Your Specific Need

As my school community left for spring break March 6th, schools in Hong Kong, China, and Japan were closed and teaching was moved online. By March 11th, many public and independent schools—including ours—made the decision to close, at least for several weeks to assess the situation. Our plan was to begin with remote training starting at the end of March for our faculty, followed by online teaching on April 6th.

Educators, news organizations, ed-tech companies, and even parents are posting a wealth of information on how to do online learning. Whether you are involved in helping plan the transition, or hear about it through an email, this is a prime opportunity to use your institutional knowledge to create guides to support this effort.

Our library director, Amy Voorhees, was an integral part of the planning committee. We started by working our way through available resources and made our choices based on simplicity and the value they would add to the transition plan. These resources became the framework for the new LibGuide created specifically for online learning. The guide included resources and tutorials highlighting the tools faculty were required to use: PowerSchool (our LMS), Zoom (for synchronous classes and meetings), and Screencastify (to create tutorials for asynchronous learning).

I started to build out the guide by curating how-to videos along with pro tips, Twitter feeds for each specific tool, and infographics or other helpful information. Tabbed boxes were my go-to for the videos, as there were so many for each specific tool. Using a 3-column layout, I was able to put the videos front and center with supporting information on either side. This design was consistent for each page, which simplified navigation for the faculty. On the home page, our Remote Learning Plan was easily accessible as well as a Spark page that pulled together the principles of online learning. This interactive element was given a featured central position, while links to static documents were positioned on either side. In this way, the page not only provided valuable information, but also modeled instructional design principles for our teachers.

Our Director of Information Technology, Michael Siepmann, summed up his thoughts on the Online Learning guide: “Moving to remote learning during these unprecedented times was a large undertaking with just a few weeks to complete the task. With the school moving to multiple new platforms, we quickly realized we needed a central place to post essential instructional guides for our faculty and staff. LibGuides has been a key part of our success in rolling out our required tools for remote learning. The pages provide a modern, sleek design that gets users excited to learn.”

Don’t Expect Too Much from One Guide

Learning online can be a very isolating experience. Coupled with the current COVID-19 social distancing recommendations, your students may be struggling to feel fully engaged with school. I felt it was important to include tools that encouraged student engagement and connections with both classmates and teachers. Our second guide, Educational Technology Tools, was organized by specific tasks: assessment tools, student connection tools, and student-centered tools for content curation and subject-specific learning. I included educators and ed tech companies and organizations to follow on Twitter.

LibGuides’ flexibility allows us to present curated information in a way that is neither too much nor too little. Separating the guides based on their intended purpose means you don’t have to approach one guide as an “all you can eat buffet” by trying to cram too much and too varied information. Instructional design theory tells us this can lead to cognitive overload, leaving your user fatigued by too much information to process. Because the guides were related, I chose to put a redirect tab on each one leading to the other. This kept them together, yet separate.

In addition to these academically focused guides, Laura Zibro, our Instructional and Outreach Librarian, created a fun survival guide for our teachers and their families, which includes videos and links for exercise, webcams, storytime, and even virtual museum tours. 

Add Help at the Point of Need

If you’re like us, I imagine your community will be spending most of their time accessing content for courses through your school’s LMS, library website, and LibGuides. Common sense—and usability studies—tell us that help, like information, should be offered when and where it’s needed, in the format that’s most helpful to the user. Both of our new guides provide our teachers with the tools and information they need to create content and teach in ways that may be foreign or difficult. This transition is stressful enough; offering help on those guides was another small change we could make that just made sense.

LibWizard Magic

Enter LibWizard Lite, a LibGuides module that comes free with LibGuides CMS. Although it’s not as robust as the subscription level LibWizard Full, it allows you to create forms and surveys, which are a perfect way to increase your visibility and make it easy for your users to contact you at their point of need. Although I have been a LibGuides enthusiast for close to 15 years, I have never fully explored or mastered LibWizard. At a time when we are asking everyone to move out of their comfort zone and try something new, it made sense for me to do the same. So I watched a few tutorials, made a few test forms, and finally came up with a help desk tab that was added to both of the new online teaching guides, in addition to our library website and course guides with current research projects. The tab was styled bright red with all caps reading HELP DESK in white font. We tried different wording but ultimately felt everyone was familiar with that term. When clicked, the pop-up window contained information on who to reach out to for specific questions and included links to our Calendly pages for scheduling appointments and email for simpler questions. Again, help was there where it was needed.

Small Changes, Big Results

I absolutely love this one small change we made to our guides which made a big difference for our users. The tab is anchored, visible on each page of the guide, and moves as the user scrolls. Excuse me while I geek out—but what is not to love about my new favorite tech tool? Below you can see some of the ways we customized the help desk pop-up depending on the purpose and audience for the guide.

User-friendly Design

Like LibGuides, the LibWizard module is pretty user-friendly on the backend. There are drag and drop options with fields that allow you to customize your form, as well as a question bank to save and reuse common fields. You’re able to gather the information that will allow you to better meet the needs of your user. Simple to use, easy to duplicate, multi-use functions make using LibWizard a winning situation for our users and for us. Now excuse me while I find another guide that could use a help desk tab…

Thank you, Nancy!

We love hearing your approach, and it’s amazing how one or two small changes can really make a difference. Kudos to you for taking this opportunity to learn a tool and create something impactful for your users.

Staying Motivated: Springy Projects & Professional Development

In the U.S., we’re about two weeks into social distancing and/or working exclusively from home, and we’ve started to settle into the new daily routine… at least for now. If we’re lucky enough to have flour, we’re stress-baking. We’re watching every TED Talk. We’re enjoying nightly Shakespearean sonnet readings. We’re video chatting with friends near and far.

For those who’ve also found themselves figuring out new responsibilities while they’re at home or the library is empty (or they simply can’t sit still), now may feel like a good time to start on items lingering at the bottom of the to-do list. It may also feel like a great time to find ways to avoid that to-do list. 😉

In this spirit, we’ve created an “It’d be great if I…” list of Springy-related projects to help you capture that motivation, take advantage of your product’s features, learn a new skill, or pass the time! While we’ve separated it by product, some of these ideas and skills could be applied to more than one.


LibGuides

Watch all of our training videos!

  • Strategize SEO: Review and update your site’s content to improve your search engine optimization. (newsletter tip)
  • Prep for summer: Create attractive reading lists to support your online summer reading program. (training video)
  • Fix JQuery: Find it before you realize it’s causing a code conflict. (newsletter tip)
  • [CMS & optionally LibAnswers] Create a virtual workplace / staff intranet. (training video)
  • Learn HTML and CSS.
    • Take an online class through sites like LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) accessed through your local library, Codecademy, freeCodeCamp, or Udacity.
      • Some courses provide a live space to practice coding. Please use these and not your LibGuides site. 🙂 We are unable to fix custom code or create it for you.
    • Pro tips for adding custom HTML/CSS/JS into your site:
      • Use media/widget assets for all custom code added to guides so you can troubleshoot your code. We can’t stress this enough!
      • [CMS only] Create a new group to use as your sandbox and add code to its look and feel area.

Did you know that our newsletter includes LibGuides tips and tricks? The early March edition included Springy site cleaning ideas. Sign up to receive the next issue, slated for sometime this summer. 😀

LibAnswers

  • Create a robust internal staff knowledge base: Break out policies, login details, and staff-only information into individual restricted FAQs. It’s easy to search, browse, embed, and link them! (SpringyU FAQ groups and individual FAQ courses)
  • Start a virtual scavenger hunt using SMS. (training video)
  • Perform a full site cleaning. (training video)

Take the SpringyU course.

LibCal: Migrate from Room Bookings to Spaces

We haven’t set a sunset date yet, but it will eventually happen. Over the last few years, our development team has been busy adding new features to Spaces, the new room bookings module. Now is the time to complete the migration process, while your physical library doors are closed or your study rooms have reduced bookings.

Spaces features:

  • Easily set and change the opening hours rooms by campus/branch, location, or type.
  • Create and manage recurring bookings.
  • Set regular account permissions to limit who can create and edit bookings, mark who showed up, and adjust opening hours.
  • Create calendar events from the Spaces booking.

Take the SpringyU course pictured above and check out our FAQ that spells out this process from start to end.

LibWizard

  • Collect stories from students and patrons to build an online archive of your community’s experiences. (forms Springboard)
  • Survey your patrons to discover what types of online services they’d like to see. (surveys Springboard)
  • [Full subscribers] Create tutorials on how to access library resources, add LibGuides content to Blackboard/Canvas, or anything else that comes to mind! Extra credit if you create custom videos and images. 🙂 (standalone and embedded tutorials Springboards)

It can be difficult to stay motivated during this time, but we hope this list will provide you with some inspiration. For even more learning opportunities, register for an upcoming training session.

Thank you to everyone who has checked in these past few weeks. Wishing you all safety, good health, and even a few moments of peace during this crisis.