Archive for Client Stories

Springing Into Action – Librarian Reserve Corps

What another amazing Learning Lab! Last week, Sara Loree and Victoria Messana, volunteer librarians from the Librarian Reserve Corps, delivered an amazing presentation on how they used Springshare tools to put out a call for volunteers, organize those volunteers by location and speciality, and communicate important information with volunteers, researchers, and more. All to help stop the flood of misinformation that was taking place due to the pandemic.

If you missed the webinar, no worries – we’ve got you covered! We recorded the entire session and we have presenter slides for you to download.

Takeaways

  • Using LibWizard and LibCRM to put out a call for volunteers and then organizing those volunteers by speciality, location, etc… to create a really easily searchable database.
  • Creating a LibGuides CMS powered website and then having to revise it as time passed and scope became more defined.
  • Using LibGuides CMS Groups to create public-facing content and internal/private/restricted groups for volunteer intranet information.
  • Using LibAnswers ticketing queues to streamline questions and assigning team leads to specific queues.
  • Helpful tips and takeaways such as creating a style guide, organizational talking points, etc.

Watch Now!

Watch Springshare Learning Lab: Springing Into Action with Librarian Reserve Corp

Upcoming Learning Lab

We’re huge 30 Rock fans and we were immediately drawn to this amazing CR&L article, Ain’t No Party Like a LibGuides Party, Because a LibGuides Party Is Mandatory, because not only is the content amazing but they reference a Liz Lemon quote. I mean, we could not resist. So we contacted the authors and asked them to deliver a Learning Lab in June, and they agreed! So mark your calendars for our next learning lab with UNC Charlotte’s guest speakers Natalie Ornat, Beth Auten, and Reese Manceaux.

Hope to see you there!

Creating a Regional Chat Cooperative – Learning Lab

Last week we had the pleasure of sitting down, albeit virtually, with three amazing librarians to talk about virtual chat reference and the importance of having support from a regional, and global, chat cooperative. Caitlin Kenney (Engagement and Education Services Coordinator at the Western New York Library Resources Council) and Cornell University Librarians Leah Dodd (Research Lead Librarian), and Virginia Cole (Archaeology, Classics, History, and Medieval Studies Librarian) joined us for a panel discussion to discuss the WNYLRC cooperative and Cornell University’s experience doing local, regional, and even global chat reference.

In case you missed it, you’re in luck! We recorded the session, along with presenter slides, so you can watch and download all from the Springshare Learning Lab website.

Takeaways

  • The benefits of creating chat fallback so patrons chatting with the library start locally but if their library isn’t available, it rolls up to the Western New York LRC regional cooperative -> and then lastly the global chat cooperative for 24/7 backup.
  • Using historical statistics to make sure chat staffing is optimized.
  • The importance of feedback for quality control and using chat transcripts for training purposes.
  • Using tags to tag transcripts with followed-up, reviewed, etc. to keep an accurate eye on chats for quality control.

Watch Now!

More Learning Labs Coming Up!

Our goal is to host a Springshare Learning Lab every single month! Our next Learning Lab:

  • Springing into Action – The Librarian Reserve Corps (LRC)
    Thursday, April 29, 1:00pm – 2:20pm
    The Librarian Reserve Corps (LRC) was founded in March 2020 to provide critical librarian time, skills, and resources to the growing need for quality information in response to the global pandemic. They quickly recognized the need to have a web presence to provide information to partners and volunteers and a central platform to manage projects. As librarians who used Springshare products in their home institutions, LRC’s Co-Directors thought to reach out to Springshare for support. Springshare responded quickly, donating access to a suite of products to support LRC’s response efforts. Throughout the past year, LRC has combined LibGuides, LibAnswers, and LibWizard to manage volunteers and launch new initiatives. Read more in our blog post.

LibWizard for Usability Testing – Springshare Learning Lab

In case you missed yesterday’s Springshare Learning Lab on how to use LibWizard for Usability Testing, you are not out of luck! We recorded yesterday’s webinar including the presenter’s slides and the link to the amazing article they wrote. Watch, download, and read all from the Springshare Learning Lab website.

Quick Overview

Special guest speakers, Mikala Narlock and Abby Shelton, discussed a University of Notre Dame project on virtual usability testing using LibWizard. The Hesburgh Libraries and the Snite Museum of Art celebrated Usability Day 2020 by collaborating on a virtual user experience testing activity: participants had the chance to offer feedback on Marble, a collaborative digital collections platform, or CurateND, the institutional repository. Mikala Narlock, Digital Collections Librarian at Hesburgh Libraries, and Abby Shelton, former Outreach Specialist at the Snite Museum, discuss their approach to virtual user testing and how they improved the user experience of both platforms as a result.

Takeaways

  • Feedback was helpful for redesigning the CurateND website, improving navigability, adding geographic metadata for Marble and improving jargon’y metadata.
  • Run through your own testing modules first! It helps to see where the roadblocks are.
  • Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.
  • Have a facilitator on deck and send a follow-up email to participants.

Watch Now!

More Learning Labs Coming Up!

Our goal is to host a Springshare Learning Lab every single month! Our next Learning Lab:

  • Creating Your Own Local Co-Op with LibChat
    1:00pm – 2:20pm Wednesday, March 24, 2021
    Did you know you can create your own local Co-Op? Join us for a Learning Lab where will be joined by Caitlin Kenney of the Western New York Library Resources Council (WNYLRC) who will share her experience running two local Co-Ops and Virginia Cole and Leah Dodd, from Cornell University as they share what it’s like being a member library. 

Newcastle University: LibWizard In Lieu Of In-Person Instruction

The dynamics experienced in a live instruction session are truly unique, so much so, that even when you’re teaching a course that you’ve taught for many years, you can still feel nervous or excited. You never know what can happen in a classroom. The interaction between the teacher and the students, the questions that spark more interesting questions, and the new perspectives, often result in everyone learning something. This is why live instruction is such a benefit.

And, it’s precisely why doors closing in libraries all over the world is so jarring. Fortunately, those libraries are filled with librarians who are the best at finding answers. We interviewed Louise Cowan and Emily Dott who are members of the Library Liaison Team at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom about the work they’ve done in their libraries to pivot to online teaching.

Pre-Pandemic Needs

Q: What were you trying to solve in 2019 when you added LibWizard to your library?

A: Newcastle University Library had existing subscriptions to LibGuides, LibAnswers, and LibStaffer and in 2019, initiated a trial of LibWizard.

We undertook the trial with the intention of fulfilling a need to provide self-directed training materials for staff working across the Library, and in particular to provide staff development opportunities for colleagues employed to work outside of core hours (evenings and weekends). At that time, the focus was more internal facing, as a solution to meet training needs around the Library Management System and internal University processes. We were also interested in centralising the management of forms, which were being generated across multiple platforms.

During the trial, it was recognised that LibWizard could also be a solution to difficulties surrounding the use of free third-party tools to create Information Literacy based quizzes, which we have embedded across LibGuides. The Library increasingly faced challenges where a platform we commonly used had introduced copious amounts of adverts between questions, rendering many of our active elements unusable.

At the time of introducing LibWizard, the University was transitioning between VLE providers, so it was also anticipated that the LibWizard Tutorials function would be used for student-facing tutorials focusing on:

  • Keyword searching
  • Developing a search strategy
  • Advanced use of the discovery system, Library Search

Such interactive elements were unavailable in the current software and at the time, we were unsure of the functionality available in the new VLE.

Seamlessly Shifting Gears

Q: When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, libraries all over the world shut their doors and scrambled to quickly pivot to provide services online. What were your immediate priorities and what were your strategies for making the transition as efficient and smooth as possible?

A: Our immediate priority was to ensure that students and staff were aware of and able to access our online resources and support quickly and easily. With increased use of resources off campus, and the potential for students to rely on non-library resources of mixed quality, encouraging the critical use of information and promoting evaluation skills was also vital.

Our strategy focused on promotion of our e-resources and online one-to-one appointments, via blogs, social media, and news items on the Library website. Alongside this we concentrated on the production of new supporting material, such as video guides to finding eBooks and off-campus access to other electronic resources, new webpages focused on online learning, and the creation of short instructive tutorials in LibWizard that would help students find the information they needed and develop the skills to think critically about what they had found.

Online Learning: The Evolution of LibWizard Use

Q: Please share how you’re using LibWizard as part of your move toward Online Learning and talk about which features are being utilized most.

A: LibWizard Tutorials have been a useful tool in the development of our online learning materials and support. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic we had already begun to explore the potential of online tutorials for the initial training of students who had volunteered to become Peer Mentors to new students starting University.  As the training had to take place prior to the start of term, an online approach was necessary. The tutorial focused on providing the Peer Mentors with an understanding of their role and the knowledge of key services and support that they would need, in order to advise their mentees.

Developing this tutorial gave us a good grounding in what was possible with the tutorial tool and how we could use it to fully engage students. It also helped us to set some guiding principles for the creation of effective online tutorials, such as:

  • Setting achievable learning outcomes
  • Creating a plan for the structure of the tutorial
  • Identifying ways to embed checks for progress and encourage active learning via quizzes, reflective points, or independent tasks

This understanding and experience of LibWizard standalone tutorials proved particularly useful during the early months of the pandemic, as it enabled the Library to provide packages of online training for potential students, as part of the University Partners Programme.

Focusing on searching for and accessing resources via Library Search and Reading Lists, the tutorials guided students through the steps required to access and use resources and highlighted expectations of reading at University level. Quiz elements were used within the tutorial to assess students’ understanding and formed a core element of the academic skills element of the Programme.

Further, a strategic priority within Newcastle University Library Service is working alongside local schools and further education colleges to provide resources and workshops and collaborate on projects that explore our Special Collections and Archives. Our Education Outreach team has made extensive use of LibWizard, along with other online resources, to continue their work for the community during the pandemic. As we are currently unable to invite external students into our Library buildings, LibWizard tutorials have been created to provide an online alternative to in-person workshops. The Education Outreach Team have been able to make full use of the ability to embed videos and media within the tutorial, and the use of the Library website as a live slide within the tutorial to create engaging and informative content.

The key advantage of LibWizard tutorials in this case was the ability to make resources that are openly available without the barrier of institutional log-in, as the audience are not members of the University community.

New Approaches Bring New Challenges

Q: What sorts of considerations had to be made as you tried to make the transitions? What surprise challenges did you discover as you built content in LibWizard with teaching in mind?

A: Projects in recent years have moved the Library’s information skills development offer towards a blended model, and as a result, we were well prepared as a team to move to a fully online model. Our development of online materials was led by the same outcomes-based approach to design we use in face-to-face sessions, which uses constructive alignment to ensure that the focus is on active learning tasks designed to achieve learning outcomes, rather than activities being driven by the functionality of the tools and software available to us.

When planning open resources, or materials for specific cohorts of students, we have used LibWizard alongside other University tools (including those embedded within the VLE, Canvas) to emulate teaching which would have taken place in small group workshop settings or text-based workbooks. An element of this that has proved difficult to replicate is training on specialist databases and subject resources which require institutional authentication. While standalone tutorials offer the opportunity to guide students step-by-step through these resources, the authentication step takes them outside of the embedded slide window, which has led to some confusion.

  • Additional notes and prompts have been required to support students in these activities.
  • In general, the level of signposting and written instruction needed when teaching online is greater to ensure students fully understand what is expected of them and how they can achieve it.

The Response Matters

Q: Which are the most popular content items? What kind of response have you gotten from the faculty and from the students?

A: The LibWizard Tutorials have been well received.  

Those included in our Education Outreach programme have received positive early feedback from teachers on their effectiveness and usefulness in supporting school and college students undertaking independent project qualifications.

One of our most popular LibWizard tutorials has been the online escape game, developed to provide a more ‘fun’ element for Library Induction. During the Welcome period, alongside formal induction sessions introducing Library resources, the Library normally engage in on-site activities, with freebies and opportunities to chat with students informally. As this was not possible during the September 2020 Welcome period, induction moved online and was delivered via the University VLE (Canvas). As part of the programme of online activities, we embedded the LibWizard tutorial, and invited students to participate in the online escape game, with those who completed the game being entered into a prize draw.

The tutorials used for internal training purposes have also been very popular with colleagues, ensuring more equitable development opportunities.

We have embedded feedback forms at the end of each tutorial using LibWizard Surveys and colleagues have been keen to engage with us around ways to develop these materials further.

The most used tutorial, relating to the Reading List system received 60 submissions since February 2020.

Learning Along The Way

Q: What do you wish you knew or wish you had thought of before you started?

A: The move to using LibWizard and developing online learning materials was so rapid that there have been issues around managing version control and maintenance. Within the Library, LibWizard is open to all staff who wish to create a tutorial, quiz, or form and as staff have been keen to engage and experiment, we now have several sandbox versions, tests or copies. 

  • The amount of material can be difficult to manage and keep organised or up-to-date
  • There have been some issues around duplication of effort, where colleagues have not spotted the existence of a tutorial on the same topic before creating a new one.

We are putting in place some strategies to manage this problem now but having a way to organise or categorise tutorials or assign them to teams for maintenance would be immensely helpful and would have been a useful practice to establish before work began.

Here To Stay

Q: If the challenge of being forced online by this pandemic actually becomes a call for creativity and problem solving, what sorts of principles guide you and what has become so solid to you that you will continue with it even when this pandemic is over?

A: As a team, the move to online has cemented our approach to planning for learning and this is now firmly embedded in our practice.

The need to plan online learning in the same way as you plan for face-to-face teaching opportunities is essential. Focusing on active learning and engaging students with opportunities to put their skills into practice is central to our approach and having tools such as LibWizard at our disposal allows us to build resources to facilitate this.

We are also mindful of the importance of choosing the right tool for the learning. It can be tempting to embed new technologies into learning because they are fun to explore as teachers, or because it is the simplest way to create quick content from the teacher perspective. However, such tools may not necessarily be the best for enabling student learning or may not be well suited to the student journey. In our use of Technology Enhanced Learning we emphasise the learning over the technology and will continue to do so.  

Moving into the next academic year, we expect to carry a Flipped Classroom approach into our Information Literacy teaching as standard.


We are so grateful that Louise and Emily found some time to share their experiences with us as they transition their library, like so many are, to the online learning approach. In-person instruction is a hard thing to replicate because you can’t capture the energy of a classroom. But, with creativity and outside-the-halls thinking, collaboration, and good solutions, you can still teach and they can still learn. Throw in some much-needed lightness like the online escape game from the Newscastle University librarians, and it can be fun for everyone.

Upcoming Related Webinars!

LibWizard: Delivering Online Instruction & Information Literacy During COVID-19

Monday, February 22, 2021 1:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Learning Lab: Virtual User Testing: Leveraging LibWizard to Solicit User Feedback

Thursday, February 25, 2021 1:00 pm – 2:15 pm

University of Liverpool: Going Global with LibChat

Last week’s Springshare Learning Lab with University of Liverpool’s Gwen Jones was a can’t miss event. But in case you did, we have the recording and presenter notes available!

Quick Overview

Gwen covers how the Univ. of Liverpool switched from being non-contributing (receiving backup chat support only) to contributing (giving and receiving chat support) in the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat community.

Takeaways

Gwen shares how they prepped and trained to get ready for answering chats from patrons from around the world including watching helpful videos on training.springshare.com and practicing with each other. She also shares helpful tips like:

  • Avoiding geographical lingo – ‘Banging’ in England has a totally different meaning in the U.S.
  • Learn how other libraries call things – One library’s Interlibrary Loan is another library’s ‘Get It For Me’.
  • Being the ‘student’ for once – When trying to help a patron from another library, you’re digging around that library’s website, FAQs, and Policy Page… much like a student. This experience helps you to better understand what your own patrons are going through.
  • What makes a good Policy FAQ – Looking at other library’s policy FAQs when you’re trying to answer their patron’s questions helps to make sure your FAQs are helpful, clear, and concise.
  • Helps with Professional Growth (no really!): – Gwen stated that the librarians love answering global chats so much, that if it was taken away the staff might revolt! Answering chats from other libraries around the world is exciting and helps staff hone their skills – which they can then take ‘home’ to their own patrons.
  • …. and so much more!

Watch Now!

More Learning Labs Coming Up!

Our aim is to have a Springshare Learning Lab every single month! Our next Springshare Learning Lab:

Top 10 Springshare Blog Posts of 2020

The month has flown by and suddenly it’s the last workday of January 2021. 😅 At this point, our teams are waist-deep in strategic goal mapping and list checking, but it doesn’t hurt to take a moment to pause and reflect on the past year… as much as we may want to forget it.

Here is our annual recap of the best client stories, Springshare announcements, and tips and tricks from 2020!

1. Librarian Reserve Corps Fighting COVID-19’s Infodemic

May 15, 2020

We’re proud to have supported Library Journal’s 2021 Librarians of the Year Elaine Hicks, Stacy Brody, and Sara Loree, and the rest of the Librarian Reserve Corps. Read about how they responded to the overwhelming need to identify, select, and disseminate information about the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus. And how they used Springshare tools to help accomplish their goals. Thank you for your service!


2. Pickup Manager is Here!

October 14, 2020

It’s been a year of quick pivots and changing plans at Springy HQ, and Pickup Manager was one exciting result of our efforts to address the ‘new normal’ while making day-to-day tasks easier. The goals: streamlined item pickup scheduling, easy communication with chat and SMS/text, and ILS integration to help automate checkouts!

If you haven’t seen it, check out our post detailing how it works with screenshots and quick video clips. You can watch a recording of the webinar on our Buzz site!

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

August 7, 2020

July’s edition of SpringyNews included a special guest. Written by Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Librarian Twanna Hodge from the University of Florida, the LibGuides Tricks page addressed 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?

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

August 19, 2020

As libraries were starting to reopen their doors over the summer, we checked in with The University of Hull Brynmor Jones Library – one of our first customers to go live with LibCal Seats – to share their reopening process. They provided a ton of helpful information about planning their library’s layout, figuring out booking and cleaning times, and enforcing social distancing!

5. Tips & Tricks for the Remote-First World

March 16, 2020

As libraries and universities were making the monumental switch to online reference and learning services, Springy Talia rounded up some LibGuides, LibAnswers, LibCal, and LibWizard tips and tricks to support librarians suddenly serving students and sharing information remotely.

6. Missed It? Watch it! SpringyCamp 2020 Recordings Available

August 11, 2020

Last year’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.

You can still review the list and watch them all!

7. Introducing the New (and Improved!) Springshare Lounge

September 24, 2020

Last summer we wanted to make an improvement in an area that would empower Springshare users to collaborate, discuss, and help each other online. One of Springshare’s greatest strengths has always been our community, and we wanted to make an online space that reflects how innovative all of you are. So, without further ado, we introduced the revamped, and extra Springy, Springshare Lounge!

8. Supporting Staff & Students 24/7 with Local & Academic Chat Co-Ops

November 5, 2020

Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS) and California Community College Library Chat (CCCLC) group both frequently assist students who work and have other responsibilities during “regular business hours” – perhaps even more so during the pandemic. The individual colleges and libraries range in size and available staff, but together the two groups serve over 900,000 students.

In November, they shared how the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative and the LibAnswers platform has helped them support their staff and students, especially during last year’s distance learning!

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

April 28, 2020

About a month after the sudden shift to remote learning and library services, we shared some really interesting early LibAnswers and LibGuides stats that illustrated the size of the enormous change, along with information about what we were doing on our end to support you.

In case you’re interested in how these numbers turned out, we updated them in our December SpringyNews edition!

10. Our First Springshare Learning Lab!

December 1, 2020

In response to customer requests to integrate client use cases and how-tos, we launched a brand new training session series: The Springshare Learning Lab!

Ken Winter from VDOT Research Library kicked things off with a thoughtful discussion of his longtime remote working experience and how Springshare tools have helped his team support their patrons during the pandemic.

We’re excited to continue the series in 2021! Next week Gwen Jones at the University of Liverpool is going to share their experience contributing to the 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative (Register now for the last few spots!). And you can watch all Learning Lab recordings on our Buzz site.

The University of Liverpool Goes Global

with their chat, that is.

Let’s start at the beginning. Last summer, the University of Liverpool joined hundreds of other libraries in migrating from OCLC QuestionPoint to the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative. If you weren’t aware, Springshare acquired OCLC QuestionPoint in May 2019, which migrated over the QuestionPoint 24/7 Reference Cooperative and all active QuestionPoint subscriptions to Springshare.

Before the migration, the University of Liverpool was a non-contributing member of the Cooperative. Meaning, they received overnight/backup coverage from the Co-Op, but didn’t contribute any hours. All that changed when they migrated to the Springshare 24/7 Co-Op. Like other academic libraries, they joined the Academic Co-Op. Springshare has two others (with more coming!): Public Library Co-Op and the En Español Co-Op.

With the migration came a ton of new exciting features in LibAnswers, including full-text searchable Policy FAQs, live screensharing with Zoom or Microsoft Teams, optional webcam, on-screen annotations, recording capabilities, and more. We added a ton of functionality for librarians to chat with each other and work together – especially in our new remote workplaces – including the ability to screenshare a meeting. We expanded our chat emoji library, added more customizable sounds for new chats, added the ability to automatically create a follow-up ticket from missed chats, and so so so much more.

Choose from over 400 emojis when chatting with patrons

Suffice it to say, all of these features make it so much easier, and dare we say fun, for libraries to contribute to the Global Chat Cooperative. And with the migration, the University of Liverpool changed their status from non-contributing to contributing – giving 15 hours/week to the Global Chat Cooperative. So, not only are their students receiving 24/7/365 chat support from librarians around the world… Liverpool librarians themselves are answering questions from patrons around the world too! Their chat service has truly gone global!

Are they happy with the service?

In a nutshell, yes! Here’s what they said in a recent interview:

Cooperative librarians do a great job of providing answers for our customers and the customer feedback on the queries they’ve dealt with is overwhelmingly positive. We’ve seen some really excellent answers from the global librarians; we couldn’t have done a better job if we’d picked those up ourselves.

— University of Liverpool

Learn more at our live webinar!

If you’d like to learn more about the University of Liverpool going Global with Springshare’s 24/7 Chat Cooperative, join us on February 4 at 11:00am U.S. EST. And hear directly from Gwen Jones, Customer Services Online Manager from the University of Liverpool, discuss their experience offering 24/7 library chat to their students, and what it’s like helping other students around the globe.

REGISTER: THU, FEB 4 @11am U.S. EST

If you can’t attend the live webinar, register to receive the recording! It will be available, along with presenter slides/notes, on Buzz

Springshare Learning Lab: Reopening Libraries Safely

Our December Springshare Learning Lab focused on how the Gwinnett Technical College reopened their library safely using LibCal Seats. Over the summer, as campuses were preparing to open fully or modeling a hybrid approach for the Fall semester, library administrators were tasked with opening the library to students, safely. This meant ensuring access but in a manner that adheres to social distancing protocols and mandated occupancy restrictions.

Deborah George faced this task for the Gwinnett Technical College library and they used LibCal seats just in time for the first day of their Fall semester. Her Springshare Learning Lab covers how they used LibCal seats to provide access to computers/webcams, printers, study rooms, and staff (!!!) to students requests those services.

Springy Michelle then covers the second half of the webinar which includes an overview of the LibCal hierarchy of Locations > Categories > Spaces > Seats, setting up restrictions/limitations, creating accessibility/powered Seats, and more.


In case you missed it, the full recording is available. Watch below and find Deborah’s slides on the Buzz site. LibCal Seats is designed for all libraries, so whether you’re an academic library like Gwinnett Technical College or a public library, or if you’re not a library at all, LibCal seats can help you reopen your buildings safely.

ICYMI: Our First Springshare Learning Lab!

Just before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, we were thrilled to host the first session of our new client story + how-to webinar series: The Springshare Learning Lab!

Ken Winter kicked things off with a thoughtful discussion of his longtime remote working experience and its recent challenges. And how LibGuides, LibAnswers, and LibWizard have helped him and his team support their patrons during the pandemic. Next Springy Michelle highlighted using LibChat for internal staff communication, setting chat departments as fallbacks, and configuring a LibWizard form with conditional logic.

In case you missed it, the full recording is available! You can watch it below and find Ken’s slides on the Buzz site!

Got an after-the-fact question for Ken? Lounge members can ask it in his discussion thread that he’ll be monitoring for the next week or so. Any Springy user can request a Lounge account, and we have getting started guidance in our July newsletter.

Inspired by Ken’s presentation, Springy Michelle also created a special training on how to build an internal staff communication guide similar to the one in his session with LibGuides, LibCal, and LibAnswers. You can watch the recording in our training video library.

Up Next! Library Reopening at Gwinnett Technical College with LibCal Seats

Back in September, Gwinnett Technical College shared their reopening experience and how they’re using LibCal Seats to help reopen safely. For our next Learning Lab, Deborah George, director of library services, is going to share their story, give us an update, and answer audience questions. Following, we’ll look at some of the specific features they’ve found most useful during this reopening process.

Register today! COVID-19 – Bringing Patrons Back to the Building
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
11:00am – 12:00pm ET

Just getting started with LibCal Seats? Since we won’t have time to cover every setting during the Learning Lab, we have a full training session scheduled for the next day.

Register today! LibCal Seats – Get Your Library Ready to Reopen Safely
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
2:00pm – 3:00pm ET

We hope to see you at one or both of the sessions! Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season. 🙂

Supporting Staff & Students 24/7 with Local & Academic Chat Co-Ops

You could say this week feels like ‘peak 2020’ and that’s not a good thing. It’s hard to stick to business as usual right now when anxiety is high and the future is uncertain around the globe. But the dates on the calendar keep ticking by, classes are continuing, and students are seeking help.

We’re working with an immense amount of stress, and we all need each other to get through this. And looking at and beyond our own workplaces, we could all benefit from a strong network of support. And gain some reassurance that staff and students will have the help they need when they need it.

A couple of weeks ago, we shared the experiences of two public library cooperative members – Denver Public Library and Arlington Heights Memorial Library. Today, we have word from two academic consortium library groups using local and academic chat cooperatives to support their staff members and their students alike!

Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS) and California Community College Library Chat (CCCLC) group both frequently assist students who work and have other responsibilities during “regular business hours” – perhaps even more so during the pandemic. The individual colleges and libraries range in size and available staff, but together the two groups serve over 900,000 students.

VCCS and CCCLC have two layers to their cooperative – first, their own network of local librarians that answer student questions within their consortium – plus additional help from the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative’s (Co-Op) dedicated Academic Global Cooperative with its team of librarians.

The Co-Op is always there to help, especially during peak times, in the evenings, and on weekends. It ensures their students can get help 24/7/365 from a professional MLS-degreed librarian. And with LibAnswers, it’s easy for them to allow their librarians “first dibs” on each other’s chats, but then utilize the 24/7 global librarian network when they need it.

“Always Online” for Virginia’s Community College students

Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS) is composed of 23 community colleges in the state of Virginia, U.S., that serve over 200,000 students. And all of the libraries in its group use LibAnswers with LibChat to help students across their colleges – as well as provide help to students around the world and receive help from 24/7 Springshare librarians and other Co-Op librarians.

The below responses from its local and contributing cooperative librarians have been edited for brevity and clarity. 🙂

Are you noticing any trends in student questions and traffic numbers so far this fall? 

Certain campuses are seeing a drastic increase in chats during remote learning: 

  • “When NVCC went remote, we moved all our reference desks online, meaning that we cover the chat as if it is our reference desk during regular business hours.  Our chat numbers have increased drastically with remote learning. We love that we can help so many of our students and are grateful for the assistance we get from the VCCS and 24/7 Co-Op librarians in answering so many questions.” – Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA)

Others are seeing fewer chats, possibly due to everyone “just completely gobsmacked and shell-shocked” with the move to online. However, Germanna Community College sums it up nicely:

  • “This has been a real help to us! Going online during the pandemic has made us more aware of what students need from us to be successful. The chat can at least give students the sense that there really is someone else out there who cares and wants them to be successful.”

How has 24/7 chat supported your staff and students? What are some of the benefits of using LibAnswers/LibChat platform?

  • “24/7 chat gives students the flexibility to get help when it is most convenient for them. Providing live assistance gives them peace of mind during an already difficult time due to COVID-19 and the switch to online learning. It has been inconvenient for many students to not be able to physically come to the library, so at least this way they have easy access to help, which aids them in their virtual learning experience.” – Germanna Community College
  • “I appreciate how easy it is to submit a ticket for a chat in LibChat.  I feel like we are getting more LibAnswers tickets than we did previously, and I really appreciate that this feature is seeing increased usage as tickets allow me to offer students additional assistance.
    One of the features that I know everyone loves is screensharing. We use this feature a lot and find that it really helps when there are language barrier issues or when a visual demonstration will be more effective than a typed description.” – NOVA
  • “The great thing about LibChat/LibAnswers is it not only provides online support for students, but every chat engagement is an opportunity to glow up on your reference skills.” – Tidewater Community College

Providing 24/7 live assistance gives them peace of mind during an already difficult time due to COVID-19 and the switch to online learning. It has been inconvenient for many students to not be able to physically come to the library, so at least this way they have easy access to help, which aids them in their virtual learning experience.

How does the Academic Global Cooperative support the local VCCS cooperative? 

  • “We now have more online students than ever before, and LibChat makes it easier to reach them. The 24/7 Co-Op means that even as we’ve had to shorten library hours, our students can still get help at any time.” – Tidewater Community College
  • I’ve noticed that the Academic Global Cooperative and Springshare 24/7 librarian staffing levels appear to be in line with the number of questions received during the shifts that I cover. I don’t think we can underestimate the superior service that a 24/7 platform staffed by professional librarians offers students!” – VCCS Cooperative librarians

I don’t think we can underestimate the superior service that a 24/7 platform staffed by professional librarians offers students!

What do you think is a 24/7 chat support’s role in student success? How does it fit into your long-term library services strategy?

  • “We offer multiple channels for students to gain assistance with library services and resources – whichever channel is most appropriate or comfortable to them. By placing the library where the students are with chat, they have immediate access to professional assistance and quality service, setting them up for success.” – Danville Community College
  • “The cooperative’s role in providing 24/7 research support for students is an important service to community college students… In addition, non-traditional college students may lack basic research skills, technological skills to navigate library resources. The chat service enables librarians to provide assistance and basic instruction that critically impact student success.” – VCCS Cooperative librarians

CCCLC: There for their students – and each other – across 44 California colleges

The California Community College Library Chat (CCCLC) group is made up of 44 community colleges’ libraries across California serving approximately 720,000 students. According to Technical Services Librarian Glorian Sipman, the libraries are a pretty tight-knit group!

And when CCCLC librarians have to be offline during evenings and weekends, or even due to staffing changes, the Academic Global Co-Op is there to pick up chats from night owl and nontraditional students asking any questions.

Again, the below responses from CCCLC libraries have been edited for brevity and clarity. 🙂

How does the Academic Global Cooperative support the local CCCLC cooperative?

All responding libraries receive help in the evenings and on weekends. For the group in general, the Academic Global Cooperative & 24/7 librarians really help us out late in the evenings and on Fri/Sat/Sun. They do backstop us at other times if we’re busy.

  • “Cerro Coso really appreciates the Academic Global Cooperative, especially when most of the CCCLC participants are working day jobs in a California time zone and students are writing term papers at 3am. The global support helps us expand our services to reach our night owl students without requiring us to find local staff willing to work those times.”
  • “Grossmont College has no adjunct budget since July 2020. We also have full-time librarians on leave, so our chat monitoring hours are very limited. The Academic Global Cooperative (and local CCCLC cooperative) have been lifesavers for our students. We truly would not be able to get along without the backup chat reference service the cooperative provides.”
  • “College of the Desert currently has limited staffing when it comes to librarians and we are grateful for the backup and support we receive from the CCCLC cooperative, especially on Fridays, nights, and weekends when a COD librarian is not available.”
  • “College of the Canyons librarians monitor the CCC queue at all hours that we staff LibChat, also providing six hours of Global coverage per week.  We find that we respond to more questions from students from other colleges than our own!”

If there’s any silver lining to this pandemic scenario, it’s that our chat service is getting more promotion and use. We are very grateful that the Academic Global Cooperative is able to help us provide anywhere, anytime service to our students at their convenience, considering many of them may be trying to juggle work and kids at home, doing their own schoolwork after hours.”

Are you noticing any trends in student questions and traffic numbers so far this fall?

Libraries are seeing slight increases to huge increases while all classes are online this semester – and will likely be online in the spring.

  • “MiraCosta is seeing a lot more chats during the day than before. We are completely online this semester (as we were last semester and will likely be next); chat is one of the main ways we are serving our students’ reference and instruction needs.”
  • “Los Angeles Pierce College has seen a huge increase in chat use this fall. With no in-person services available, all of our reference services have been taking place through LibChat.”

How have the local CCCLC and Academic Global Co-Ops added value to your existing chat services? Any surprising benefits of using LibAnswers/LibChat?

  • “The Cerro Coso Library is quite small and can only staff our chat 1-2 hours a week… Having a chat function not only provides another method for our students to interact with librarians but it also drastically increases the number of hours in which students can get personalized help immediately, regardless of our own opening times or staffing issues.”
  • “I don’t think it is a surprising benefit because we have been experiencing it for many years, but having other CCC librarians available really helps as they understand exactly who our Solano students are and are familiar with many of the resources because we share a database consortium as well. So they bring an added benefit which makes helping students more seamless and apt.”
  • The screensharing functionality of LibChat is a game changer. Its simple integration makes it easy to set up Zoom sessions when students need it most. This has come in handy for many unique issues – connectivity, database walk-through, and citation help. When I think about citation assistance, specifically, it’s the perfect option to teach a student “to fish” rather than doing the tedious work of copyediting.” -MiraCosta Library

The Cerro Coso Library is quite small and can only staff our chat 1-2 hours a week… Having a chat function not only provides another method for our students to interact with librarians but it also drastically increases the number of hours in which students can get personalized help immediately, regardless of our own opening times or staffing issues.

What do you think is a 24/7 chat service’s role in student success?

  • “Clovis Community College is very thankful to the Academic Global Cooperative because those librarians make it possible for our students to have access when we are offline and the CCCLC librarians are not available. That is important now more than ever. Our students have used these middle of the night services, so having that access makes a difference.”
  • “By being part of the cooperative, San Bernardino Valley College truly offers 24/7 reference. Especially in this time of COVID-19, we appreciate the service.”
  • “Students need help in the moment and 24/7 chat provides that. Real-time chat (and potential Zoom) with a librarian at the point of need is invaluable. Grossmont College truly relies on this service to round out reference and instruction services–especially right now, while the library is closed to students.”

Thank you, Tara Cassidy at VCCS and Glorian Sipman at CCCLC! We appreciate you taking the time to share the experiences of your libraries. And we agree with you all — having a librarian there for students 24/7 can really set them up for success. Especially for students who work and have other responsibilities during the day and wouldn’t be able to reach professional support otherwise.

Interested in learning more about the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative?