Archive for Client Stories

Librarian Reserve Corps Fighting COVID-19’s Infodemic

At this point, you’ve likely heard that we’re battling an ‘infodemic’ in addition to a pandemic. Misinformation abounds and some of it is costing people their health and, unfortunately, their lives. But what you might not know, is that even the world’s top researchers, scientists, doctors, and specialists are also battling the infodemic. Sifting through the massive amount of data that is being published almost daily, identifying valuable and credible research studies from others, and trying to make hay out of the mountain of straw laid at their feet.

So, who did they call on to help them manage the 400+ new COVID-19 informational records being published each day? You guessed it, librarians. As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes once said, “Data, data, data. I can’t make bricks without clay”. And the World Health Organization (WHO) needed librarians to separate the clay from the dirt so that researchers can get busy making those bricks.

It all started when Dr. Lina Moses, an epidemiologist and disease ecologist at Tulane University, was deployed to the WHO’s Geneva headquarters as part of their Global Outreach Alert & Response Network (GOARN) in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Lina began sifting through all of the COVID-19 resources and identifying and sharing the information most reliable and helpful to response teams. With hundreds and hundreds of new COVID-19 records being published each day, how you do identify, select, and disseminate the right information to doctors and researchers on the front-lines? Lina quickly realized she needed help and called on Elaine Hicks, Tulane University’s Health Sciences librarian, for her expertise.

Elaine Hicks quickly formed the Librarian Reserve Corps and put out a call for volunteers on the Medical Library Association’s (MLA) MEDLIB-L listserv. And boy, did she get them! A group of 130 librarians from around the world offered to pitch in.

For more details on how the effort began, take a look at Library Journal’s May 11, 2020, article “Librarian Volunteers Help WHO Make Sense of COVID Information.”

The original need revolved around a daily publication list she receives, reviews, and disseminates to WHO Operational Pillar leads. The list grew from a mere 8 articles to regularly including 400 or more. Our services have since expanded to include literature searching and facilitating collaborations among information providers. The sheer volume of literature hinders the response effort. Low quality evidence and a flood of commentary make it difficult to identify the most important, impactful literature. Our responders need help in this infodemic-pandemic. As librarians we have the skills to locate and curate information to help responders fight the pandemic.

Librarian Reserve Corps, Stacy Brody & Sara Loree

LRC volunteers Sara Loree and Stacy Brody reached out to us here at Springshare to see if we could help the Librarian Reserve Corps with their charge, and we sure did – in less than 48 hours – by installing free LibGuides CMS, LibAnswers Platform, LibCRM, and LibWizard systems for the LRC to accomplish their charge.

Sara Loree
Stacy Brody

We are using LibAnswers to receive and respond to requests for information from WHO and GOARN partner organizations. We also use it to post search strategies and results. We are using LibGuides CMS as a website and to build instructional guides for our volunteers. And, we are starting to explore additional opportunities to use this tool, e.g. sharing daily publication lists with GOARN-Research. We may use LibWizard to share surveys with and collect information from other information providers. By collecting the data in one place, we hope to be able to identify opportunities for partnerships and collaboration. We are new to LibCRM, but are hoping to use it for volunteer management. We are in need of a hosted, relational database that our leadership team can access to help engage our many fantastic librarian volunteers! Our current state of spreadsheets and surveys has been a significant challenge preventing us from staying connected to those interested in participating.

Stacy Brody & Sara Loree

We asked Sara and Stacy why they reached out to us here at Springshare for this very important responsibility.

Because so many of us use Springshare products in our daily work to share information and track reference requests, it was an obvious choice. It is a familiar, user-friendly, and trusted product that aligns with our services and is supported by a great team and training materials. Because your products are so flexible and intuitive, it is a platform that can grow and change as the organization evolves.

Stacy Brody & Sara Loree

Sara, Stacy, Elaine, and all the Librarian Reserve Corps volunteers, we are so honored to be part of the immeasurable and invaluable efforts that the LRC is undertaking. We’re all doing what we can to help each other during this crisis and we’re grateful to play a small part in the life-saving work you’re doing. You can never truly know when your expertise can help make a difference.

Using LibCal Appointments & Events to Stay Engaged Online

It’s National Library Week! Springshare applauds the hard work librarians everywhere are putting in during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep their libraries operating and serving patrons. It may seem like an impossible task to keep the library — especially those whose doors are closed — engaged with the community, but your ingenuity and resourceful natures have been making it happen!

We’ve collected some examples of how libraries are using LibCal to effectively continue to provide help and to “gather” online. When I’ll meet you there veers to become Meet up from anywhere — it’s a pretty creative pivot.

Virtual Events at Mesa County Libraries Keep Fun on the Menu

In Colorado, Mesa County Libraries comprises 9 branches, all of which are closed until further notice. But from home, the librarians have been busy making a lemonade stand to share all of their lemonade! By hosting a series of virtual events in place of their popular on-site programming, they can still engage their patrons via new channels.

Using LibCal, they share the pertinent details for their Virtual Creative Fiber Arts Club, which happens via Google Hangouts, a Virtual Story Time, which is carried out in their social media channels, a poetry reading aimed at adults is highlighted, and so much more. Instead of enabling registrations, they’re promoting a sign-up button that allows patrons to get notified of upcoming programs and classes.

The virtual events are shared via their YouTube channel, Facebook page, and Instagram TV as they navigate this time and combat closed doors with open minds.

Birmingham City University’s Library Staff Makes a Beeline…to Online Services

The Library and Learning Resources department at the United Kingdom’s Birmingham City University wants its students and faculty to be aware that the library staff is available online and is ready to help.

They’re answering questions via LibAnswers and they’re even geared up to meet! LibCal Appointments allows the BCU Library team to meet for tutoring sessions. They even have peer mentors available for student support to help with developing library skills to make searching a better experience.

Letting people know this is a full-time job these days and BCU has taken to social media to get the word out. Many libraries tweet several times a day to reinforce the news that they are, in fact, operational.

Beyond social media, this outreach is supported with messaging on their website, LibGuides pages feature Book-a-Tutorial buttons, and you can even access the Appointments link on their LibAnswers home page. Let your students know they’re not alone. Use as many channels as you can to reach out.

Being There for Students — Salve Regina’s Library Gets the Word Out

The McKillop Library at Salve Regina University is making sure that students and faculty know that they’re ready and able to help with some clever cross-promotion of services.

The enterprising librarians also added a link to their appointments right below their LibAnswers chat widget so students can easily see it.

So — not only are they ensuring patrons that they can ask questions from anywhere — they also take the opportunity to offer appointments for those who’d prefer to have a block of one-on-one assistance. It’s true the doors are closed for now. But help is still available!

University of Pittsburgh Librarians Stay Connected

The Greensburg Campus librarians at the University of Pittsburgh are determined to stay engaged despite the distance. The best way to combat the isolation is to get together…albeit virtually. Staying connected, building relationships, assisting students and faculty is always a top priority but it can be challenging today.

This library staff decided to build a tabbed box in their LibGuides system to prominently share information about each of the team members. They’ve included photos and a button that connects students and faculty with the librarian’s LibCal Appointments availability or email.

There is no more accurate word for this time than unprecedented. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced academic, public, school, and special libraries around the world to move services entirely online. While it is a daunting task to provide excellent service to patrons virtually, librarians have answered the call. The innovation, out of the box (and onto the screen) thinking, and the absolute willingness to successfully shift to stay engaged that librarians are displaying is inspiring to us all here at Springshare.

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.

Practical LibInsight Use-Cases To Deliver Data Success

In case you missed our webinar series last month on LibInsight, you can watch the recordings!

We discussed practical use-cases covering targeted ways you can use LibInsight to transform your data into powerful intelligence. Plus, we had one guest speaker covering how they’re using LibInsight to Plan, Report, and Deliver Customer Service Excellence.

These short recordings will deliver a lot of helpful information in only 30 minutes… talk about getting the most use out of your limited time.

Using LibInsight to County Library Activity (32minutes)

Are you ‘counting’ things at your library? Like how many library cards were issued last month? Or events you had last year? Or total gate counts last quarter? This recording covers ways you can use LibInsight to keep track of things you’re counting, plus ways you can use it to do calculations for you!



Analyzing COUNTER r5 eResources with LibInsight (31minutes)

This recording does a quick overview of how LibInsight ingests and displays COUNTER r5 eResource data plus cost/invoice data to boot. Working with a vendor who isn’t COUNTER r5 compliant? No worries, the recording covers that too!


Using LibInsight to Plan, Report, and Deliver Customer Service Excellence (34minutes)

Want to see how a library is using LibInsight? Guest Speaker Derek Mackenzie, Head of User Services at the City, University of London Library joins us and shares his experiences using LibInsight for library planning. Plus, he discusses how the library won the Customer Service Excellence (CSE) award using data from LibInsight.


If you’re looking for more in-depth LibInsight training, check out our training recordings!

Watch & Learn: Three Librarians Use LibWizard For Training & Assessment Needs

Special guest librarians share experiences with libwizard

The One to Watch.

There’s considerable buzz surrounding Springshare’s LibWizard because, like a good tool, it does the job. The full LibWizard package features custom forms, surveys, quizzes, and tutorials — all with an unlimited scope so you don’t have to limit your imagination or shorten your to-do list. In truth, it does many many jobs.

The surest way to cast light on what LibWizard is capable of helping you tackle — is to give working librarians a chance to present how they’ve set LibWizard to task! We featured their ideas in three recent webinars where, as special guest speakers, they were able to share their individual experiences with how LibWizard helps them address their high-level priorities. Your peer librarians provide insight into how they designed a process to

  • Train Student Workers at the University of Guelph-Humber
  • Commit to Student Assessment at Prince Georges Community College
  • and Train Staff at Wilmington University

If you didn’t get a chance to attend, we’ve got you covered! We have the recordings here for you so you can watch, learn, and begin to think of the things LibWizard can help you do at your library! You’ll soon discover that your checklist is more than doable with an efficient workhorse by your side.

Sue Hunter Extends the Training of Her Student Workers with LibWizard Components.

The University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto, Ontario has roughly 5,000 undergraduate students. Sue Hunter, the Acting Manager of Library Services, oversees a Research Support Peers program. There are 10 RSPs on staff who are in their 2nd to 4th years of study and who come from all 7 academic programs on campus. They staff an information desk in the Learning Commons, which is separate from the library. They work to provide

  • Computer Support
  • Learning Support
  • Career Support
  • Research Support

Sue says,

The RSPs are really an important component of the library’s public service because they are the bridge between the students and library services and they help to extend the hours for research assistance by working in the evening and on weekends.

Watch the recording of her webinar to learn more about how she uses LibWizard to train this invaluable staff of student employees beyond their dedicated training day. Sue uses LibWizard’s surveys, quizzes, and tutorials to continue to build and reinforce the RSPs knowledge. This helps them to answer questions, provide guidance, and support the library with excellent service skills.

Marianne Giltrud Ventures Into the Wizarding World of Assessment.

Assessment of student learning ranks very high on the must-do list of many libraries. Marianne Giltrud, an Assistant Professor and Instruction Librarian at Prince Georges Community College in Maryland, notes that she began her assessment journey back in 2017 by designing a Pre-Test and Post-Test with the quiz feature in LibWizard. She then decided to embed the quizzes in a private LibGuide she built.

Learn more about how and where Marianne deployed this guide with her pre- and post-test. Plus, hear about how Marianne and her team created a Research Tutorial with LibWizard. 

Marianne shares that, what they built is

…a multimedia tutorial using Adobe Captivate and then we changed the Shockwave files into YouTube files and we embedded the YouTube in a LibGuide.

  • The tutorial is constructed so professors can cherry-pick sections they want to be taken.
  • It is designed to allow the students to re-take it up to 5 times so that learning is a process.
  • Marianne also customized it so that upon completion, certificates get sent to the professors.

Watch the recording to see how Marianne’s creativity and LibWizard come together for the library, faculty, and students at Prince Georges Community College.

Melissa Jones is Training the Library Staff with Ease.

Melissa Jones is the Learning Commons Librarian and LibGuides Manager at Wilmington University in Delaware. She has been using LibWizard forms, surveys, and tutorials for students, faculty, and staff since 2016.

Since she is so well versed in how LibWizard can be used, it wasn’t much of a leap for her to envision how she could use LibWizard in conjunction with LibGuides as a training tool and also as a knowledge base for their staff so they have something to refer back to. Melissa needed to tackle a couple of challenges:

  • She went from being the sole daytime staff member to suddenly having additional people on her team whom she needed to train with no organized training process in place.
  • The needs of the students are very situational and can change depending on what technology they’re working with, what they’re required to do for their courses and many other factors. So there was no way to prepare the new staff for every possible scenario they might face.
  • Much of the staff are part-time and they can only come to the library during their shifts. So the learning had to be accessible to staff while they are working.

Watch the recording of Melissa’s webinar to discover how she

…came up with something for training that would cover the skills for the most common tasks they needed to know, and the model needed to have assessments to check for understanding, and include a knowledge base so they would have a place to access general information and find answers in case they were working by themselves.

Springshare knows that like these awesome librarians — you, too, have a number of projects on your plate that have been brainstormed into life. See how LibWizard can help you get them off the ground.

King University Uses LibWizard To Create A Game Focused On Information Literacy

Looking For A Game-Changer?

In addition to their responsibilities in the library, many librarians also spend a substantial amount of time in the classroom. For those who tackle the incoming Freshman each year, teaching Information Literacy can be a sincere challenge. The difficulty is two-fold. How do you stay motivated and enthusiastic when you’re teaching the same material, asking the same questions and getting similar answers multiple times a day — year after year? We know if the instructor is not engaged, there’s little hope the students will be. Given that scenario, how do you instruct and prepare your students, many of whom don’t have much experience with libraries? How do you share the fundamentals that will help them with the entirety of their college careers and beyond? The answer might be… to put on your game face!

Emily Krug is an Instructional Services Librarian and Assistant Professor of Library Services at King University in Bristol, Tennessee. She shared with us her experiences as she created her game, The Battle for the Oval Kingdom, designed to introduce the concepts of Information Literacy. We’re inspired by her creativity and are thrilled to relay her story.

The Name Of The Game Is Innovation.

The first part of the equation is a teaching schedule that involves a lot of critical information to be shared in back-to-back sessions with 80 Freshman students in each. Complicate that with zero class transition time resulting in 45-minutes classes that are really 35 minutes. How do we make all that equal success? Shake things up. Come at the problem from a different angle. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Emily recalled, the origin story for her game, The Battle for the Oval Kingdom, came from the intersection of two exciting sources.2018 Battle for the Oval Kingdom Quest 1

The idea for the game, The Battle for the Oval Kingdom, came because of a professional development day that I participated in through the Mid-Atlantic Library Alliance. For the spring 2018 meeting, we invited Tasha Squires, who is a middle school librarian in Downers Grove, IL. She had created a game as a winter reading program for her middle school students and had won an award for the game. She presented and gave us a basic structure for how we could create something similar.

The other influencing factor was a session at the Library Collective Annual Gathering in March 2018, which takes place in Knoxville, TN, every year. At that session, participants played a game by Matt Finch called “Battle for Library Island,” which was essentially a roleplaying game designed to help libraries think through strategic planning for library services. Add to these two inspiring professional development opportunities the fact that my husband and I are avid board gamers, you can see why building a game was something I wanted to take on.

 

Her goal was to build a game “…in such a way that students could complete most of it outside class but also compete against each other for prizes.” Emily knew she needed the game to

  • introduce students to the concept of being information literate
  • and also to get students to come to the library in their first semester

In 2017, Emily was looking into LibWizard because they wanted increased “flexibility and a cleaner look for their online instructional program.” Because they were already using LibGuides, it was an easy leap to add LibWizard to build tutorials for their online courses. When the game was forming in her imagination in 2018, she was already armed with LibWizard and decided to use it as her tool for the build.

Start With A Good Game Plan.

Emily thinks back to recall the creative process and said,

I initially built the Quests for the game using Forms because the Quests themselves were simple questions. Most Quests had a short paragraph themed on the game followed by some sort of activity that the students had to complete.

Most of the Quests used text boxes for answers, but one Quest that required the students to come to the library in small groups used the file upload field so that students could upload a selfie that they took with a librarian.

One thing I particularly liked about the file upload field was that it works really well on a phone, which was how most of our students were completing the Quests.

Knowing the usage habits of your participants is key and an excellent indicator of how committed Emily and the King University Library is to having a successful outcome for this endeavor.

 

Emily wanted the forms to be embedded as an iframe widget so she used more of her creative energy to devise a workaround iframe code to put the forms into their learning management system.

Part of what made it work is that it makes nods to things like The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, but it’s not using those characters. I wrote a screenplay for a short video introducing the game, and I created characters and a mythology around the game. Our villain is a Sauron-esque warrior called the Dark Lord Obfuscar whose primary goal is to make it harder to evaluate information. The citizens of the Oval Kingdom seek the help of the Order of Librarius, who have discovered the ancient practices of evaluating information in a tome called the Codex of Bibliog.

The team names are all plays on buildings around campus. That’s one of the things that I think made it work: I tried to incorporate our campus as much as possible into the game. We had a lot of support in that regard. Our Director of Student Life was in the video, our Provost agreed to play the villain, and someone from our marketing department filmed and edited the video.

As far as advertising and implementing goes, we didn’t have to do much advertising because it was tied to a class. The students received a grade for completing the main Quests, but we built in the competition through other game elements such as strategy cards and bonus cards. The Dean of Students is in charge of the course, and he’s a former librarian, so he and his team were excited about us trying something a bit new.

More Than A Numbers Game.

The Battle for the Oval Kingdom is a success. Emily shared the fact that students who participated last year have already come to ask her if they will be playing the game again. And, while she did also get some great feedback from a short survey she distributed on the awards day, we know that the high level of student engagement she cultivated is invaluable. Emily reflects on her experiences as she looks to this year’s batch of incoming Freshman. There are some changes to the set up of the Freshman Seminar at King Univesity this year that meant more sections, which results in smaller class sizes but Emily continues with the game as a solid component of their teaching strategy. She said,

While we could have more easily managed the class sizes this year, we don’t have the staffing to add 10 extra instruction sessions in the fall semester, so we decided to continue using the game as our information literacy outreach for Freshman Seminar.

Several of the Quests are the same or similar to last year’s, but we did change a few big things. For starters, I actually moved the Quests from the Forms feature of LibWizard to the Quizzes feature because I found out about the certificate of completion feature in Quizzes and Tutorials. One important piece of feedback that we received last year was that students couldn’t always tell when they had completed each Quest because it would reload if they refreshed the page in the Learning Management System. By moving the Quests to Quizzes, I was able to include a customized certificate of completion, and the students can save that certificate in case there is any question about whether they did the Quest.

We also extended the time for students to complete the game. Last year, we did the entire thing over the course of a week and a half, which included the Labor Day holiday. One thing we heard from student feedback was that it felt rushed.

Imagine students wanting to spend more time working on what is essentially an assignment! But perhaps in all the fun, they’d forgotten that part. They’ve really done it at King University Library. Emily Krug and the teaching librarians have come up with a fun way to approach Freshman Information Literacy and the winner is… everyone. 

Limited Series: Hear Librarians Discuss How They Use LibWizard

LibWizard Guest Speaker Series. Register Now!

One of the best ways to learn how to use a tool, or to see if a tool is right for you, is to see how others are using it. To that end, we’ve asked some amazing librarians to showcase how they’re using LibWizard in their institutions. This October limited webinar series has some amazing presentations that you won’t want to miss!

For those of you who don’t know, LibWizard is our form, survey, quiz, and interactive tutorial building tool. There’s no limit to the number of items you create or the number of responses you gather. It integrates natively with LibGuides, has embeddable widgets, and robust statistics and reporting. Plus, we just released a bunch of new features (including authentication integration!) and the ability to create pre-filled surveys/forms.

LibWizard is such a versatile tool. It can be used for servicing distance learners, creating student-centered tutorials, surveying a captive audience, promoting collections and tracking success, and even sending an SOS message out to get backup help when your virtual chat reference service is exploding… and so much more.

But teaching and communicating doesn’t always mean the librarian to patron dynamic. Teaching often occurs between coworkers, across departments, or even teaching new hires, pages, or student workers. And LibWizard can help you there too.

To that end, no matter what type of library you’re in – you’ll want to check-out the below guest presenters and see how they’re using LibWizard to communicate to patrons, and with each other.

If you need a LibWizard refresher and you’re in UTC +1 – +6 time zones, please join us for a LibWizard webinar on Creating Scalable, Self-Paced Learning for Distance Learners. Wed, October 2nd. 5:00am – 5:30am U.S. ET (UTC -4) / 10.00 WEST (UTC +1) / 11.00 CEST (UTC +2) / 12.00 EEST (UTC +3).

Guest Presenter Line-Up

All times listed below are in U.S. Eastern Time.

Training Student Workers Using LibWizard

Tuesday, October 8. 2:00pm – 2:30pm. 

Sue Hunter, University of Guelph-Humber

If you’re a public, K12, or special library… don’t be dissuaded by the use of ‘student workers’ in the title. Simply replace the term ‘student worker’ with pages, employees, staff, volunteers,  or parents. The concept applies to all library types!

 

The Wizarding World of LibWizard and Assessment

Friday, October 11. 2:00pm – 2:30pm.

Marianne Giltrud, Prince Georges Community College

Marianne will cover how they’re using LibWizard for student assessment. Public libraries, if you do any type of patron learning assessment… don’t miss out on this session.

 

 

Training Staff with LibWizard

Wednesday, October 16. 2:00pm – 2:30pm.

Melissa Jones, Wilmington University.

Staff training can take place when its most convenient for them, outside of meetings! Melissa will cover how they’re using LibWizard to keep staff up-to-date.

Ideas for Re-engaging Patrons in LibAnswers

If you’ve been using LibAnswers for awhile, you might be looking for fun and new ways to reinvigorate and boost usage of your various LibAnswers services.It happens to all of us, we get into a groove and then coast along.

But, if you’re noticing your stats are staying consistently steady, or flatter than Wile E. Coyote after using a catapult (this pun brought to you by Springy Greg! 🙂 ), it might be time to consider implementing some of these tips to turn that plateaued bar chart into a steep spike!

Reimagining LibAnswers FAQs

In case you missed it, SpringyCamp – Springshare’s virtual user conference, occurred on July 31, 2019. Among the amazing lineup of presenters (all of which you can watch here), was a presentation by Mikki Smith from the Corning Museum of Glass on Reimagining LibAnswers FAQs.

Bit of Background

The Corning Museum of Glass has been using LibAnswers since 2014 and created most of their public FAQs from an old database of FAQs from a previous system. Many of the FAQs included attached .doc bibliographics.

Around 2016, they became a bit more selective about which questions should turn into public FAQs, but did not retroactively apply that criteria to existing FAQs.

In 2017, they began to add images to existing FAQs and to use FAQs to highlight exhibitions.

Then, in 2018, looking at data from Google Analytics, they decided to reimagine FAQs as a mobile-friendly experience. Why? Because they noticed that a large percentage of their visitors were from mobile-devices. Thankfully, LibAnswers comes mobile-first right out of the box. But with some small tweaks to their FAQ content, they were able to make their FAQs more user-friendly, more mobile-friendly, and saw their usage stats increase.

Corning Museum of Glass FAQ – On Desktop

Starting with 1,300 FAQs to revise, it was a big project to undertake. Here’s some of the tips from Mikki’s presentation on reimagining their FAQs as an up-to-date visually appealing set of questions:

Same FAQ – On Mobile

  • Visuals – The Corning Museum of Glass has gorgeous objects on display. They make full use of that by embedding images into their FAQs to enrich the user-experience.
  • Improving the Metadata – Improving the FAQ metadata (FAQ title, answer, keywords, topics) helps to improve the SEO and findability of their FAQs. From their Google Analytics data, they found that 80% of their FAQ-traffic came as the result of a Google Search. Meaning that most users weren’t starting at the Library website. They started at Google and then found one of the FAQs because of a Google search on their topic of interest.
  • Actively Linking to Content – The Library and Museum have a ton of content to share with users. Don’t reinvent that content in your FAQs. Link to it in your FAQs to improve SEO and reduce duplication of content and efforts. Mikki and the team try and have at least one link out to existing Library and Museum content on each FAQ so it’s more of an experience and an opportunity to explore.
  • Rich Digital Content – The Library & Museum have videos on their YouTube page. By embedding them in their FAQs, they’re actively promoting their digital content and improving the experience for the patron.
  • Establish a Workflow – Create a workflow to ensure FAQs are updated. Mikki’s team divided the FAQs so each librarian has a dedicated number to review each month.
  • Promote on Social – Proactively promote your FAQs on social media to improve findability and increase your digital outreach.
  • Highlight Exhibitions – Whether or not your library has exhibitions, you might do custom displays for books (i.e. Poetry Month) or a promotion of archives, or an event. Consider creating a LibGuide on that exhibition, event, or display and then embed FAQs right onto it. Corning Museum of Glass did this with their New Glass Now Exhibition LibGuide and then added a tab to their LibAnswers homepage to highlight those FAQs there too.

Highlighting Exhibition, Display, or Event FAQs right on your LibAnswers Homepage

 

Launching Proactive LibChat

If you’ve been offering virtual chat reference services for awhile now, your users might be accustomed to the service and your usage stats are steady, but not increasing.

If you’re looking for a way to increase usage stats of your LibChat reference service, without launching a whole new advertising campaign, consider implementing Proactive LibChat. Proactive LibChat simply turns your LibChat widget into a proactive one – popping out after a customizable period of time asking the user if they need help.

So, instead of waiting for them to ask for help, you can offer help first. Enabling Proactive LibChat is as easy clicking a check-box on your LibChat Widget Builder. We outline how to setup Proactive chat on this blog post.

Institutions that have enabled proactive LibChat saw varying increases in usage from 230% (CSU – Dominguez Hills) to 600% (University of San Diego’s Copley Library). While we can’t promise how your specific demographic will respond, recent research articles written by Michael Epstein from the University of San Diego’s Copley Library and another from Lydia Pyburn from The University of Texas at Arlington Library indicate that the answer is yes!

Upcoming Webinars – Guest Speakers

If you’d like to learn more about LibAnswers Proactive Chat, we have two upcoming guest speaker sessions from real libraries using Proactive LibChat. Sign-up below:

Optimized Session

If you’re in the European Union and you’d like to learn more about LibAnswers and proactive LibChat, we have an optimized time for you!

How The LTI Integration Tool Embeds Its Way Into Your Hearts

When Point Of Need Is Where It’s At!

You know where you ought to be. Point of Need has become one of those phrases that sounded awkward at first — but is now a philosophy that’s the foundation of a strategy. In the library’s effort to provide excellent service, meeting your patrons where they are certainly works toward anticipating their needs and reducing friction. It helps boost usage and your stats will provide supporting evidence to show your team is focused on getting people the help they need.

 

Read on to learn how George Hart at the University of Massachusetts – Lowell and Bernadette Mirro and Mason Yang from Marymount University are using the LTI Integration Tool in LibGuides CMS at their institutions to be… on point!

What Is The LTI Integration Tool?

LibGuides CMS is the advanced version of LibGuides. It does everything that a LibGuides system can do, plus a whole lot more. One of the features that’s included is the LTI Integration Tool. LTI stands for Learning Tools Interoperability – it’s a standard for integrating tools from third-party services into a Learning Management System (LMS) like Blackboard, Canvas, Brightspace / Desire2Learn, Moodle, Sakai, etc. If your courseware tool is LTI compliant then it will be compatible with our tool to seamlessly integrate content from your LibGuides CMS system into your LMS.

It’s not just about guides. You can customize your user’s experience by showing the relevant guides, librarians with the appropriate subject specialty, specifically chosen A-Z database results (for instance just those tagged Economics), plus library hours, the ability to book study rooms, and book appointments. You can even include your LibAnswers LibChat widget and search box! The most important thing is it all displays natively on the desired page.

Embed E-Reserves Into Courseware.

Library Director, George Hart of UMass — Lowell, with a LibGuides CMS system that boasts 836 guides, stopped into the Springyverse recently to be our special guest speaker for a webinar detailing how they’re using Springshare’s E-Reserves module inside their courseware tool to great success.

  • He talks about how they use the LTI automagic feature, which he calls “phenomenally powerful” because it “scales so well.” They used it for 92 sections of college writing.
  • They are mapping specific E-Reserves items for each section of the course.
  • You’ll learn they mapped 361 LibGuides to individual courses.

George says, “It’s an ideal way to integrate everything we have to share into the student’s experience. It’s complete integration. It’s just when they need it, where they need it, anytime.” For a little how to and to learn more about what George and his team are doing at the library at UMass — Lowell, watch the recording of this webinar Embed E-Reserves Into Courseware. You can also supplement that with additional stories on this topic.

Increase Resource Usage With LTI.

Marymount University’s Bernadette Mirro and Mason Yang carved some time out of their schedules to be our special guest speakers for their webinar on how the LTI tool is boosting everything from awareness of the library to their usage of ebooks and reference services. 

  • This is a story whose foundation is data. You’ll discover what they’ve accomplished in 3 years.
  • Their intention was to decrease the number of clicks to get to library resources and increase collaboration with teaching faculty, increase chat usage, ebook usage, and student & faculty awareness of LibGuides.
  • Discover how they’re using a “four-tier guide system.”
  • You’ll enjoy their awesome infographics that tell the tale of how their strategy to be efficient  — and to find opportunities to act on their data — helped them toward their goals.

Don’t miss this recording of the webinar Increase Resource Usage with LTI. You’ll start imagining how the LTI tool can work for your library. Making sure you are where you are needed most sounds like the mission statement on a superhero’s website. But it also sounds like something everyone should be prioritizing. Libraries provide an incredible service, but in this case — your superpower should be VISIBILITY.