Archive for Client Stories

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?

Global Public Chat Cooperative: Helping Your Community 24/7

As librarians, you’re there to help your communities improve their access to information and resources, no matter their life circumstances. But “pandemic life” has stretched on for over seven months now, and while public libraries have adapted quickly, increases in new cases could mean sudden closures or service changes again. Curbside delivery tools like Pickup Manager provide an important link to patrons, and online reference tools like email, and even better, live chat, are becoming the most visible way to show you’re open and there to help them. Libraries are also finding that if there’s a chat option on their website, patrons will use it!

We also can’t forget that typically when times are tough, usage of the library goes up as people need help with resumes, job seeking, government assistance applications, small business resources, and free services and sources of entertainment they can’t otherwise afford. So while the library building may be closed, have shorter hours, or limited capacity – its community may need it more than ever.

Denver Public Library, a large multi-branch system in Denver, Colorado, and Arlington Heights Memorial Library, a single branch library located in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, have both dealt with closures and unexpected shifts in services during the pandemic. And with established 24/7 chat services plus backup Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative support, we asked them to share how 24/7 chat has impacted their ability to help patrons during the pandemic, and what they’re seeing so far with chat trends and community needs.

Serving public library staff and patrons 24/7 with live chat + cooperative support

Before we dive into their experiences, let’s introduce the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative (Co-Op) for those who may be unfamilar with it! It’s how you can show patrons you’re there for them, even during the late hours after their kids are finally in bed, they’re done with work, and/or they’ve finished taking care of a loved one. With true global coverage, it can ensure your patrons can get help 24/7/365 from a professional MLS-degreed librarian. We even have a dedicated Public Library Cooperative made up of librarians with extensive experience helping public library patrons!

Springshare also provides different contribution options, so you can choose to help out in the Co-Op and receive backup assistance when you need it — or choose to only benefit from Co-Op support! The Co-Op uses the same widgets as local library LibChat, so there’s minimal extra setup when it’s added on.

A few weeks ago we shared just how busy chat traffic – and our Springshare 24/7 librarians – have been this fall. But while we can talk trends and numbers all day, it’s our customers’ experiences that bring home how a service is helping their library, staff, and communities during these difficult and uncertain times.

Helping anyone, any time of day, at Denver Public Library

A bit about Denver Public Library from Frank Wilmot, Senior Librarian, Reference Services:

  • Denver Public Library (DPL) is a busy 26 branch library system and has been providing chat support since 2013 with OCLC’s QuestionPoint. We transitioned to the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative in May 2020 after Springshare acquired QuestionPoint.
  • Our chat and email service are primarily staffed by the Reference Services department (Central Library) along with a handful of other departmental and branch librarians who provide one or two hours per week.
  • The Global Public Cooperative supports DPL constantly! The cooperative helps its customers 24/7/365 but primarily when DPL librarians are not staffing. When the chat service gets extra busy, when staff are in meetings, or even if and when there’s a fire drill, the public cooperative continues to support us and our customers.

Are you noticing any recent trends in patron questions and traffic numbers?

Chat traffic is up! At the end of September 2020, chats are up 41.7% over 2019. Obviously, 2020 has been an unusual year and when comparing Q1 2020 to Q2/Q3 when our buildings were closed, the monthly average still increased by 25.6%.

How have the cooperative added value to your existing chat services? Any surprising benefits?

We have been part of QuestionPoint’s 24/7 cooperative and now Springshare’s Public Co-Op since 2013. The cooperative has added value to our chat service since the beginning!! When chat traffic is too busy or if it’s late at night or early in the morning, we know that our customers will still get one-on-one assistance from a trained librarian with lots of information about our services and access to our resources. Since we joined LibAnswers, 22.5% of our chats have been answered by cooperative librarians. These are questions that may otherwise have been unanswered.

The LibAnswers software also makes it extremely easy for DPL staff to follow up with Denver customers and to strengthen the connections between the library and our customers.

When chat traffic is too busy or if it’s late at night or early in the morning, we know that our customers will still get one-on-one assistance from a trained librarian with lots of information about our services and access to our resources.

How has 24/7 chat support helped your library system transition services during the pandemic?

For a few weeks in March and April, when buildings were closed and before we started curbside services, the only way to communicate directly with library staff was via email and through our Ask Us chat service. Building closure was complete and abrupt, but because of the Global Public Cooperative, there wasn’t a single moment of interruption in at least one channel of communication and connection between the DPL and our customers. On a Sunday in March, DPL Reference staff were only able to provide chat service to our customers until 5pm, and while we were figuring out how to staff the service again Monday morning at 9am, the cooperative librarians were there to help answer questions from our customers overnight.

Building closure was complete and abrupt, but because of the Global Public Cooperative, there wasn’t a single moment of interruption in at least one channel of communication and connection between the Denver Public Library and our customers.

What do you think is the cooperative’s role in helping the Denver community? How does it fit into your long-term library services strategy?

DPL’s Vision is “A strong community where everyone thrives” and our mission states “Together, we create welcoming spaces where all are free to explore and connect.” Our Ask Us chat service is easily accessible and discoverable throughout our website and in our catalog. It’s available to anyone and everyone, whether you are in Denver or in another state or country with a question about Denver, Colorado, or the West. It’s available with or without a library card. Chatting with a real person any time of day or night helps us to create and build the connections between the library and our customers.

Maintaining 24/7 support during the pandemic at Arlington Heights Memorial Library

A bit about Arlington Heights Memorial Library from Jolie Duncan, Info Services Manager:

  • Arlington Heights Memorial Library is a single branch library serving a community of 75,000 people northwest of Chicago. We’re also a long-time Global Public Library Cooperative member.
  • We’ve relied on the cooperative to provide back up during all hours, but we primarily need assistance in the evenings and on the weekends after we close. We’ve had to shorten our opening hours by two hours to 8:00pm, and the cooperative now answers chats that come in during that time for our staff.
  • During the pandemic, we continue to have staff cover chat remotely. LibAnswers also provides an easy way to chat with co-workers internally if they need assistance on a chat or need to transfer a chat. 

Are you noticing any recent trends in patron questions and traffic numbers?

It has been interesting to analyze the chat stats and the LibAnswers platform makes it easy to view statistics and identify trends. In the months we were closed, we saw a steep rise in the number of chats, peaking with 1500 chats in June (over 3 times the normal amount)! Clearly, customers are moving to ask us questions virtually. The topics of the chats vary, but we have seen an increase in troubleshooting questions such as ebook help. Since so many librarians use similar databases, they can help troubleshoot for customers.

How has the cooperative added value to your chat services? Any surprising benefits?

The ability to assist customers 24/7 is such a value to our customers. The cooperative librarians can answer so many more questions than you might think. Participating in the cooperative allows us to also learn about other libraries and discover regional differences and similarities. Not only does it provide a great service to our customers, but for our librarians that participate in covering the cooperative queue, it provides them with a more well-rounded experience.  It is a great opportunity to be aware of other libraries’ offerings and keep our skills sharp.

Not only does [the public cooperative] provide a great service to our customers, but for our librarians that participate in covering the cooperative queue, it provides them with a more well-rounded experience.  It is a great opportunity to be aware of other libraries’ offerings and keep our skills sharp.

How has 24/7 chat support helped your library system transition to mainly online services during the pandemic?

24/7 chat has played a crucial role in maintaining customer support during the pandemic. When we closed our doors suddenly in March, chat was the only service we kept going for quite some time. By keeping chat up and running, we were able to provide access to customers so we could troubleshoot, and answer questions, and provide essential information about the library’s closure and level of services.

What do you think is the cooperative’s role in helping the Arlington Heights community? How does it fit into your long-term library services strategy?

Two of our core values are customer service and free and equal access to information and the cooperative supports both values. The ability to provide answers to customers’ questions when they need it vs. when the library is open is a real added benefit. 

When we closed our doors suddenly in March, chat was the only service we kept going for quite some time. By keeping chat up and running, we were able to provide access to customers so we could troubleshoot, and answer questions, and provide essential information about the library’s closure and level of services.

Thank you, Frank and Jolie, for your insightful feedback! We appreciate you being on board with us and sharing your experiences. Having 24/7 patron chat support has enabled you to pivot quickly – and continue to adjust – library services without disconnecting from your communities. And when it comes time to communicating the value of the library at the end of the fiscal year, you’ll have the data to show just how many people you were able to help during this difficult time.

Interested in learning more about the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative? Check out our recent blog post and contact us with any questions!

Always Online! Library Chat + Global Cooperative = True 24/7 Service

It’s clear that online learning is becoming a larger part of the student experience so it’s important for the library to keep pace with this trend. It’s been shown that access to the library increases the likelihood of student success. So when patrons need to chat with a librarian online, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to engage with them! It’s great for the patron and great for the library, too. But let’s be realistic – you can’t be there, online, monitoring your chat departments 24/7/365.

Good news though… We can, and we do! Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative has thousands of member libraries and librarians, representing the largest professional reference librarian network in the world. We have true global coverage, and we can ensure your patrons can get help 24/7/365 with a professional MLS-degreed librarian available to help them. Check out our interview below with the team at the University of Liverpool library and how the cooperative helps them serve their patrons successfully on a 24/7 basis.

But first, allow us to share some interesting chat reference statistics from the start of this academic year (for the month of September). These stats show a tremendous increase in reference chat traffic compared to the start of the previous academic year in 2019, demonstrating how much patrons do rely on the library to help them with their studies – especially in the times of COVID-19 when most learning happens online:

  • The LibChat platform handled 379,510 incoming chats in September 2020 – a 182% increase over September 2019.
  • More than 23,000 of these chats were answered on the Springshare 24/7 Global Cooperative platform (i.e. by the Co-Op). Each one of these chats represents a question that would have gone unanswered because the local librarians were busy or offline.
    • 34% of September Co-Op chats were asked over the weekend, showing just how important it is to have seven-day coverage.
  • Our Springshare 24/7 librarians have been busy! They handled more than 60% of all questions that fall back to the cooperative. So if your staff cannot contribute to the Co-Op that’s okay too – we’ve got you covered

Providing Seamless 24/7 Chat Service at the University of Liverpool Library

These statistics provide us with a birdseye view, but what does this mean for an individual library? The University of Liverpool has been a 24/7 library for the last five or so years, and back in March, their physical help desks went virtual, and their staff moved to online chat reference. They were early adopters of the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative, so we checked in with them to see how things were going.

Joe Hilton and Gwen Jones from the University Library were so kind to give us a little insight into how they have their chat services structured so that their students can benefit from “the human touch” of a one-on-one library interaction, any time of the day.

Tell us a bit about your local chat services. How many library staff typically monitor your chat widgets? What days and times are staff available to answer questions before they fall back to LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative chat?

Since the Covid-19 pandemic we have anywhere up to 10 staff monitoring our chat widgets between 9am – 9:30pm Monday to Friday and between midday – 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Before March, we usually had at least two librarians monitoring our chat widgets. Effectively, all of our physical help desk staff went virtual so having LibChat already established as part of our service was a winner in many ways.

What went into deciding when you needed 24/7 cooperative support?

We subscribed to backup chat with QuestionPoint when we became a 24-hour library, and we moved early on to the new LibAnswers Cooperative platform after it was acquired by Springshare. We have a very comprehensive LibAnswers FAQ public knowledge base that works brilliantly but, for true 24/7 support, we believe the human touch is necessary. Deciding what days and times we needed cooperative support was easy. Whatever times we don’t staff it ourselves, we have the co-op step in. Since they use the same widgets, it’s one complete, seamless service.

[B]ut, for true 24/7 support, we believe the human touch is necessary.

Tell us a bit about the students asking questions of Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative librarians and the types of help they’re seeking. Are you noticing any trends in traffic and questions so far?

The kind of queries our students are submitting to the cooperative are not really any different to what we get to our own librarians. I guess the trends depend on what is happening at the time, and the trick is to be fluid and flexible to meet the needs of your audience – and the co-op certainly moves in sync with our audience.

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. Sometimes they’re a little less successful, but there’s always going to be some variation and they can’t do a great deal when it’s something that really requires access to our circulation system or to our IT support systems. But what’s great is that the customer is able to talk to someone 24/7 and it’s really helpful that when global staff can’t deal with it, those queries do get referred to us and customers are given some idea of when we’ll be available again to deal with their query, so they’re not left hanging.

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.

How are you able to provide the information Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative librarians need so they can answer student questions?

We’ve worked hard to create a very comprehensive FAQ knowledge base which we strive to continuously keep the content current. It’s this updating and monitoring that is one of the keys to the service. Irrelevant and/or out of date information is no help to anyone. It’s not rocket science or a dark art or anything. The global cooperative librarians can only work with what you make available to them. As we mentioned, cooperative librarians provide as good a service as our librarians and that is testament to their abilities and what we provide! It is, after all, a partnership and it makes for a seamless service for the students.

How has the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative added value to your existing chat services? Any surprising benefits?

What’s changed is we’re now providing coverage to the Academic Cooperative and I think that has been very successful so far. It’s certainly getting busier there and the numbers have been increasing every month since we started: from getting just 9 cooperative chats in April to 159 in August. Our staff are very happy supporting it, too, and say that it’s helped them develop their skills and that they find the questions from customers of other institutions varied and interesting, so that’s another win in terms of job satisfaction.

How does the Springshare 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative fit into your long-term library services strategy?

The current climate has highlighted and emphasised the need for robust, high-quality virtual support and LibChat/Co-Op chat has been absolutely vital to us before and especially during the current conditions. If there were any lingering doubts to its value and effectiveness then these have been well and truly squashed. We are looking forward to expanding & developing the service as much as possible, hopefully working with other libraries & Springshare to share ideas and improve the functionality.

The current climate has highlighted and emphasised the need for robust, high-quality virtual support and LibChat/Co-Op chat has been absolutely vital to us before and especially during the current conditions.

Thank you, Joe and Gwen! We appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions. And we agree with you — there’s really no substitute for one-on-one personal interactions, especially during moments of user confusion or frustration. When a chat widget is there and online, people will use it!

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

More than ever, 24/7 online library support can ensure your students can get the answers they need when they need them! Let us be there to help. 🙂

How They Did It: Gwinnett Technical College Welcomes Fall 2020 with LibCal Seats

2020 has been a difficult year, for sure. Most of us are likely ready for it to end so we can flip a page of sorts. However, for the world of Academia, Fall is kind of a new beginning. This fall every student in the country is starting a new year – the academic year – some for the first time and some for their final year of college.

This fall term is brimming with excitement — mixed with anxiety. For the institutions that serve these students, faculty, and staff, there is hope bolstered by careful planning and thoughtful execution. And, while they tell you in school to keep your eyes on your own paper, these days, we need all the great examples we can get. Sharing knowledge in the days of COVID-19 is how we’re going to strategize against its spread and prudently move forward.

Gwinnett Technical College Prioritizes Health & Safety

Director of Library Services, Deborah George, and the library staff at Gwinnett Technical College share answers, valuable experiences, and tips in this LibCal Seats Q&A. You’ll learn how they worked together to welcome everyone back to campus with the knowledge that this fall, like no other, providing peace of mind had to be added to the to-do list.

Gwinnett Technical College Fall 2020 Opening Day

A New Look at Creating a Safe Space

When did you launch your LibCal Seats system? Please share, to date, how many reservations you’ve handled with it.

Gwinnett Technical College (GTC) is a long-time subscriber to Springshare’s LibGuides and other applications. We finalized access to LibCal Seats on August 7, 2020, and launched it to our students on the first day of our Fall, 2020 semester, August 10. As of September 15, we have had over 914 bookings!

What is the main goal you have for your library and what is its big message as you begin the 2020 Fall Term in the midst of this global pandemic?

We want the students to know that their health and safety is important to us. Using a reservation system such as LibCal Seats allows us to monitor the usage of library space and maintain compliance with college-wide, CDC-based safe use requirements. Being able to allow students to visit the library provides much-needed access to library staff and on-campus technology. Faculty refer students to the library for test-taking and library workshops. The email and reservation data can be shared with faculty as necessary.

What are the new challenges the library sees in supporting students and faculty this academic year? Share a bit about the problem-solving process that went into devising your re-opening plans.

GTC already provided remote services with phone, email, and chat. In response to the increased demand necessitated by the pandemic-related campus closures, we were able to greatly increase one-to-one remote services with our Learning Management System and Springshare’s Appointments features. Students can now schedule dedicated reference interviews from any location.

Even with these remote services, several of our students want or need to use the library in person. LibCal Seats allows us to provide access to computers/webcams, printers, and study rooms to those students requesting these services while giving us the ability to monitor overall capacity and adhere to social distancing requirements.

Setting Up Seats & Setting New Expectations

There’s a lot of change this academic year and not just for the incoming Freshmen. How are you sharing the information that appointments and reservations are now required? How is this being enforced?

We are using a multi-faceted approach to marketing our new services. We encourage our department heads to communicate via email with classroom instructors, and we promote access options through the library’s blog post, Facebook entries and signage within and outside of the library spaces. Students are greeted as they enter the library and are asked to confirm or make reservations. Staff roam the library regularly to confirm students are using reserved spaces and following safety measures (masks in place, not moving furniture, etc.) Compliance is near 100%.

QR Codes at the GTC Library

Which features in LibCal Seats are you finding the most useful as you encourage social distancing and monitor the occupancy of your spaces in real-time?

The Booking Explorer provides an overview of space availability for staff and allows us to adjust reservations as necessary throughout the day. The Single Seat viewing grid is displayed on a large monitor just inside the library, so staff and students can easily determine availability.

How did you decide what sorts of booking limits you wanted to impose and what’s the strategy or goal behind them? Are you using padding between reservations? If so, how and why?

Capacity of space was considered when setting booking limits, as well as anticipated foot traffic. Currently, we are adjusting our limits to meet the students’ needs. We started with a one-hour default session length but found that several students were taking online exams and needed longer periods of time. The library is not reaching full capacity, so we extended the default to two hours, to minimize the amount of time spent manually extending sessions. Additional adjusting is easy, and we can make modifications on the spot. We do use the padding between sessions, which allows for cleaning of the stations between use.

Which reports or dashboards are you keeping a close eye on and how are they informing your day-to-day/week-to-week decisions?

We consistently view the Booking Grid to keep an eye on availability and expected use. Occupancy data also gives us an idea of what times the library is being used the most. We expect to use more reporting data as we move through the semester, and really appreciate having the ability to track computer usage and foot traffic now.

Response to LibCal Seats, Tweaks & Tips

What has been the response to LibCal Seats from the library team, the students, the faculty?

GTC Students Book “On the Fly”

Faculty are impressed with the ease of use and are comfortable sharing reservation information with students. Returning students, used to popping into the library and using space on a first-come, first-served basis, initially expressed some frustration with the reservation requirements and multi-step process. Most students use their phones to book, and the screens are not as easy to navigate on smaller devices. However, once the students have made a few reservations the process becomes less time-consuming.

As students understand the reservation process is required to keep our building open for student use, they gladly comply with the expectations. As they realize the process can be completely self-serve, they love being able to check-in by phone.

We simply ask, “Did you get your email?” and most give us a thumbs up and move on to the reserved space.

What sorts of tweaks and adjustments did you make in the first few weeks after implementing LibCal Seats to make it work better for you and your students?

We needed to adjust the default reservation session length since many students have ended up needing to come to campus to take tests since some were not able to use secure testing software on their home computers. Additionally, some student club interviews were scheduled in library study rooms, which allows students without webcams at home to participate in virtual face-to-face interviews.

What sorts of tips would you like to share for those libraries who are at the beginning of setting up LibCal Seats?

Keep in mind your closing time; you may not want to have students making reservations right up to when you lock the doors. Consider how often students can make reservations, and how far in advance. Get feedback and be flexible!

We are grateful for the opportunity to share this interview with Deborah George and her diligent, caring library staff. To say 2020 has been a hard year is an oversimplification to be sure. But sometimes the clearest language is the truest.

Reopening your institutions is a real challenge this year, one that no one is taking lightly. How do we keep your spaces at the library, and all over campus, from unsafely filling with people? Ask them to make a reservation, monitor the occupancy numbers, and make adjustments as necessary. The GTC library shared their experience that — students gladly cooperate because they know it means they can use the library.

They want to use the library. You want to welcome them back. LibCal Seats is instrumental in helping you stay (safely) booked in the days ahead.

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

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

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

An interview with the University of Hull Brynmor Jones Library

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

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

Preparing for their reopening

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

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

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

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

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

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

Checking in, checking out, and social distancing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expanding building availability & future plans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missed It? Watch it! SpringyCamp 2020 Recordings Available

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

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

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

A few Springy favorites:

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

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

Using Springshare Tools to Manage & Record COVID-19 Information

New Partnerships: Using Springshare Tools Outside of the Library

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

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

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.”