Summer is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere, which means two things: we’ve swapped comfy pants for comfy shorts; and we’re getting close to SpringyCamp!
In a year unlike any other when services dramatically changed (and are still changing), the Springy team wanted to host an extra special virtual conference for our customers. To that end, we’re bringing you two exciting days of camp with an expanded list of presenters! Plus, new ways to engage and interact with other Springy users!
SpringyCamp 2020 – August 5th & 6th The New Now: Promoting Access & Redefining Services
This year’s camp will explore four themes:
Using Springshare Tools to Manage & Record COVID-19 Information
New Partnerships: Using Springshare Tools Outside of the Library
We’re All Distance Learners Now: Using Springshare Tools to Share Information with Staff and Patrons
Connections: Your Library & Social Justice – Amplify Black Voices with Springshare Tools
SpringyCamp Registration & Sneak Peek
Registration opens tomorrow, and we’ll have all of SpringyCamp’s details in our training newsletter – landing in inboxes at 12pm US ET! Not currently a subscriber? Sign up on our website.
In the meantime, here’s a glimpse into what some of our camp presenters are cooking up to share with attendees:
Real-World Readiness: Using LibGuides to Wade Through the COVID-19 Flood – Poster Session! Carrie Price and Katie Lobner, Welch Medical Library, Johns Hopkins University
Empowering Staff and Facilitating Remote Work with LibAnswers Amanda Scull, Dartmouth College Biomedical Libraries
Using LibGuides and LibWizard to Create Online Escape Rooms Rachel Valentine, Blinn College Library
Creating & Hosting OER using LibGuides CMS – Poster Session! Nikki Rech and Jeff Mortimore, Georgia Southern University
Lessons Learned from Moving to LibGuides and LibCal – Poster Session! Sam Torrez, Dickinson Public Library
LibGuides and Digital Literacy for the New Online Student: An Academic Reference Librarian’s Approach to Faculty Collaborations Kimberly Michelle Gay, John B. Coleman Library, Prairie View A&M University
LibGuides Beyond the Library Nadine Bailey and Stephen Taylor, Western Academy of Beijing
All of us have learned a lot this year, and we’ve still got a lot left to figure out. While SpringyCamp always provides a great opportunity for Springys to come together and share ideas, we’re feeling the importance of this community event more acutely than ever. We hope you’ll join us!
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.
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.
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.
Now, more than ever, we’re helping people. Helping family, helping neighbors, and even helping strangers. To that end, Springshare is helping Casey Roberson with his research study on how Academic Libraries use LibAnswers’ Reference Analytics “Add a Transaction” form. So if you have 20 minutes to spare and you’re an Academic Librarian using LibAnswers’ Reference Analytics – fill out Casey’s survey.
We’ve asked Casey to introduce himself and explain his study and its goals. Take it away Casey! 🙂
I’m Casey Roberson, a research & instruction librarian at the University of Georgia. I am conducting a study on how Academic Libraries utilize Springshare’s LibAnswers’ Reference Analytics “Add a Transaction” form. My hope is to discover commonalities/differences across institutions as well as best practices, with a goal of publication in a peer-reviewed library science journal.
Participation in this study is voluntary, and you are in no way obligated to complete the linked survey. You could even stop reading this blog post right now, if you wanted! But please don’t.
The survey asks 30 questions about your library’s use of the LibAnswers’ Ref. Analytics transaction form, what information you capture about reference interactions, and how you decided to capture that information. The survey shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to complete. But, hey, it’s not a race.
If you choose to complete the survey, your answers will be recorded anonymously, and your participation will be our little secret. If any of your answers do contain information that could identify you or your institution, none of the identifying information will be made known to anyone or published.
You may withdraw from participating in the survey at any time, and leave it uncompleted. You may decline to answer any questions in the survey and still submit it with those unanswered. If you really wanted to, you could submit it with just one question answered, but honestly I’d probably have to throw out your response. You could start the survey, do some of the questions, save your progress, and then come back. It’ll be up for a month, so you’ve got plenty of time!
As librarians are figuring out how to reach their communities in new ways, we’ve loved seeing the flurry of resources and tips shared online, new guides, and all kinds of creative solutions. While we’ve created new training sessions and provided project ideas on the Springshare end, it’s often most helpful and reassuring to hear from someone who’s right there in the trenches with you.
Today we’ve brought in special guest Nancy Florio to discuss her experience as a research librarian at the Kent School as they quickly shifted to online learning, and how they used LibGuides CMS and LibWizard Lite to meet their students’ changing needs. She’s written a wonderful post. Take it away, Nancy!
LibGuides for Online Learning
Research Librarian Nancy Florio
For most educators and librarians, the COVID-19 pandemic became a demarcation line, on one side a “before”—when offering blended or online classes was optional—and on the other side an “after”—when schools closed world-wide and there was no option but to move to remote learning. The most current statistics compiled by UNESCO on April 8, 2020, list 91.3% of the world’s students are impacted by 188 country-wide school closings. This means that 1,576,021,818 students are currently without access to education or are learning in online classes.
I see these closings as a call to action for academic and school librarians, who in the “before” Covid-19 world were already curators of electronic resources and ed tech tools, creators of digital content, and educational collaborators. If you are one of the close to half a million librarians currently using LibGuides, then you know you’re in a perfect position to support your institution’s transition to online learning. Don’t miss this opportunity to prove your relevance in the age of freely available information found through any basic Google search.
Curate and Create Resources to Meet Your Specific Need
As my school community left for spring break March 6th, schools in Hong Kong, China, and Japan were closed and teaching was moved online. By March 11th, many public and independent schools—including ours—made the decision to close, at least for several weeks to assess the situation. Our plan was to begin with remote training starting at the end of March for our faculty, followed by online teaching on April 6th.
Educators, news organizations, ed-tech companies, and even parents are posting a wealth of information on how to do online learning. Whether you are involved in helping plan the transition, or hear about it through an email, this is a prime opportunity to use your institutional knowledge to create guides to support this effort.
Our library director, Amy Voorhees, was an integral part of the planning committee. We started by working our way through available resources and made our choices based on simplicity and the value they would add to the transition plan. These resources became the framework for the new LibGuide created specifically for online learning. The guide included resources and tutorials highlighting the tools faculty were required to use: PowerSchool (our LMS), Zoom (for synchronous classes and meetings), and Screencastify (to create tutorials for asynchronous learning).
I started to build out the guide by curating how-to videos along with pro tips, Twitter feeds for each specific tool, and infographics or other helpful information. Tabbed boxes were my go-to for the videos, as there were so many for each specific tool. Using a 3-column layout, I was able to put the videos front and center with supporting information on either side. This design was consistent for each page, which simplified navigation for the faculty. On the home page, our Remote Learning Plan was easily accessible as well as a Spark page that pulled together the principles of online learning. This interactive element was given a featured central position, while links to static documents were positioned on either side. In this way, the page not only provided valuable information, but also modeled instructional design principles for our teachers.
Our Director of Information Technology, Michael Siepmann, summed up his thoughts on the Online Learning guide: “Moving to remote learning during these unprecedented times was a large undertaking with just a few weeks to complete the task. With the school moving to multiple new platforms, we quickly realized we needed a central place to post essential instructional guides for our faculty and staff. LibGuides has been a key part of our success in rolling out our required tools for remote learning. The pages provide a modern, sleek design that gets users excited to learn.”
Don’t Expect Too Much from One Guide
Learning online can be a very isolating experience. Coupled with the current COVID-19 social distancing recommendations, your students may be struggling to feel fully engaged with school. I felt it was important to include tools that encouraged student engagement and connections with both classmates and teachers. Our second guide, Educational Technology Tools, was organized by specific tasks: assessment tools, student connection tools, and student-centered tools for content curation and subject-specific learning. I included educators and ed tech companies and organizations to follow on Twitter.
LibGuides’ flexibility allows us to present curated information in a way that is neither too much nor too little. Separating the guides based on their intended purpose means you don’t have to approach one guide as an “all you can eat buffet” by trying to cram too much and too varied information. Instructional design theory tells us this can lead to cognitive overload, leaving your user fatigued by too much information to process. Because the guides were related, I chose to put a redirect tab on each one leading to the other. This kept them together, yet separate.
In addition to these academically focused guides, Laura Zibro, our Instructional and Outreach Librarian, created a fun survival guide for our teachers and their families, which includes videos and links for exercise, webcams, storytime, and even virtual museum tours.
Add Help at the Point of Need
If you’re like us, I imagine your community will be spending most of their time accessing content for courses through your school’s LMS, library website, and LibGuides. Common sense—and usability studies—tell us that help, like information, should be offered when and where it’s needed, in the format that’s most helpful to the user. Both of our new guides provide our teachers with the tools and information they need to create content and teach in ways that may be foreign or difficult. This transition is stressful enough; offering help on those guides was another small change we could make that just made sense.
Enter LibWizard Lite, a LibGuides module that comes free with LibGuides CMS. Although it’s not as robust as the subscription level LibWizard Full, it allows you to create forms and surveys, which are a perfect way to increase your visibility and make it easy for your users to contact you at their point of need. Although I have been a LibGuides enthusiast for close to 15 years, I have never fully explored or mastered LibWizard. At a time when we are asking everyone to move out of their comfort zone and try something new, it made sense for me to do the same. So I watched a few tutorials, made a few test forms, and finally came up with a help desk tab that was added to both of the new online teaching guides, in addition to our library website and course guides with current research projects. The tab was styled bright red with all caps reading HELP DESK in white font. We tried different wording but ultimately felt everyone was familiar with that term. When clicked, the pop-up window contained information on who to reach out to for specific questions and included links to our Calendly pages for scheduling appointments and email for simpler questions. Again, help was there where it was needed.
Small Changes, Big Results
I absolutely love this one small change we made to our guides which made a big difference for our users. The tab is anchored, visible on each page of the guide, and moves as the user scrolls. Excuse me while I geek out—but what is not to love about my new favorite tech tool? Below you can see some of the ways we customized the help desk pop-up depending on the purpose and audience for the guide.
Like LibGuides, the LibWizard module is pretty user-friendly on the backend. There are drag and drop options with fields that allow you to customize your form, as well as a question bank to save and reuse common fields. You’re able to gather the information that will allow you to better meet the needs of your user. Simple to use, easy to duplicate, multi-use functions make using LibWizard a winning situation for our users and for us. Now excuse me while I find another guide that could use a help desk tab…
Thank you, Nancy!
We love hearing your approach, and it’s amazing how one or two small changes can really make a difference. Kudos to you for taking this opportunity to learn a tool and create something impactful for your users.
As more and more schools are closing, events are being canceled, buildings are shutting their doors, and people are remote-working where possible in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve… your organization is facing a critical and time-sensitive situation. How do you provide virtual services to your patrons?
With most, if not all, courses at your institution being taught online, it’s important for your library to be where your students are. Whether that means embedding library services and content in courseware or providing remote research consultations…. if they’re remote, you need to be remotely accessible too.
Courseware Integration – Adding LibGuides, LibAnswers Live Chat, and LibCal Scheduling Services
The first method outlines using LibGuides CMS’ LTI-integration which allows you to embed not only a LibAnswers FAQ search box and a live LibChat widget, but also links to related LibGuides, LibCal appointment scheduler for online/remote research consultations, content-specific library databases, and more.
LibGuides CMS LTI Tool – creating a Library Resources page in Canvas with LibGuides, LibAnswers, and LibCal.
If classes have gone virtual, your students still need research consultations – albeit virtually. Use LibCal Appointments to setup, manage, and communicate online appointments and conduct those sessions using LibAnswers Screensharing. LibCal Admins, learn how you can setup the Appointment Scheduler for optimal usage. We even have a dedicated training session available to show you how you can use LibCal for booking virtual help.
Training Session – Use LibCal Appointments to Book Virtual Help/Reference Sessions: Learn how to use LibCal to allow users to book Online Help Sessions with Appointments. We will look at using LibCal’s Appointments module to make it easy for your patrons to book one-on-one virtual appointments with you. Whatever your online hosting service is, from Skype to Zoom to Screensharing in LibAnswers, we will look at how to make this service more accessible to your patrons. Some settings that we discuss are Admin only, but all are encouraged to attend.
Thursday, March 19: 2:00pm – 2:45pm U.S. ET
Public / State Libraries
Though your buildings are closing their doors, there is a need now, more than ever, to effectively communicate and share extremely important public safety information with your community. We’ve seen an uptick in the creation of COVID-19 LibGuides, especially as it relates to sharing information on what public services are available, what’s closed, and more. Your LibGuides help shatter myths about the virus and communicate real facts and tips. Here are some of our favorites.
All Libraries – Virtual Reference & Instruction Services
No matter what type of library you’re from, if your doors are closing for two weeks, a month, or longer, you might be exploring ways to provide virtual reference & instruction services to your patrons from the comfort and safety of your home to the comfort and safety of their home.
Pro-tip Idea: You can use the LibAnswers Systems and Status Dashboard to share the status of various institution, city, or community services. Is the dining hall closed till further notice? Mark it as closed in your Status Dashboard. Is city hall accepting only pre-booked appointments? Note that in your Status Dashboard.
Some of you are getting word out that your doors are closing and that you’ll switch to online services exclusively with just a few hours or maybe even a full day of notice…if you’re lucky. If you’re scrambling to develop lesson plans or instruction packets for K-12 students who are facing school closures for 2 – 5 weeks or college-level students who are going 100% virtual through the end of the semester, create LibWizard self-grading quizzes and/or interactive tutorials.
LibWizard quizzes and tutorials:
Work on all devices from tablet to computer;
Allow you to create an unlimited number of self-grading quizzes and tutorials;
Provide real-time formative assessment with correct/incorrect help text;
For public and K-12 libraries, consider liaising with your local K-12 schools to assist teachers in creation of tutorials and quizzes. Academic libraries, reach out to faculty and consider embedding a tutorial or quiz inside courseware. Public librarians, your patrons are self-quarantining and really want to download some ebooks. Create an interactive tutorial teaching them how to search, find, and download ebooks.
If your building is closing suddenly, there’s a good chance that patrons have scheduled in-person appointments and reserved spaces/rooms & equipment via your LibCal Appointments, Spaces & Equipment modules. Now you have to cancel a lot of upcoming reservations and appointments…quickly. We’ve coded and released a new bulk delete feature for the LibCal Appointments, Spaces, and Equipment modules to help you with that process. This feature will be available to all regions by Tuesday, March 17.
Appointment Bulk Cancelations – anyone with access to the Appointment Bookings Explorer can bulk cancel their personal upcoming future appointments.
If you need extra (online) hands to staff and monitor chat to ensure after-hours, regular hours, or full 24/7 coverage, we can help with that, too. Our LibAnswers 24/7 Global Cooperative is the largest virtual reference cooperative in the world and our co-op librarians can lend a helping hand.
For those libraries who are already members of the LibAnswers 24/7 Global Cooperative, you might be noticing an increase in your virtual reference traffic due to campus closures, event cancellations, etc. We want to assure you that we are prepared to handle increases in chat traffic due to COVID-19. Our service philosophy, irrespective of COVID-19, is that we monitor incoming chat traffic trends and adjust staffing accordingly. This is to ensure that your patrons will enjoy shorter wait times and receive high-quality chat reference assistance 24/7/365.
COVID-19 Dedicated Training Series
Quickly pivoting to working from home might be new territory for you, so we’ve created several training sessions that cover: ways you can communicate important information to your community, building a LibGuide for a class that’s gone completely digital, and more. Can’t attend any of the below sessions? Don’t worry, all sessions are recorded and available online shortly after the session is held.
Keeping Important Info Up-to-Date with LibAnswers Widgets– manage important information about your library, school, university or business, etc, in relation to the current crisis. By creating a COVID-19 FAQ Group in LibAnswers embedding and updating important information will be easier. With widgets you will only need to update information in one location and it will automatically be updated everywhere your widgets have been used.
Monday, March 16: 1:00pm – 1:45pm U.S. ET
Build-a-LibGuide for a Class That’s Just Gone Digital– with changes to how classes are being conducted, we need to adapt our methods for sharing information and resources. Join us for a 40 minute session where we will look at creating a guide to support a course that has just gone online. This session assumes a base knowledge of LibGuides. If you are new to LibGuides we recommend that you watch or attend the Building a Guides Session prior to this one.
Wednesday, March 18: 2:00pm – 2:40pm U.S. ET
Use LibCal Appointments to Book Virtual Help/Reference Sessions – learn how to use LibCal to allow users to book Online Help Sessions with Appointments. We will look at using LibCal’s Appointments module to make it easy for your patrons to book one-on-one virtual appointments with you. Whatever your online hosting service is, from Skype to Zoom to Screensharing in LibAnswers, we will look at how to make this service more accessible to your patrons. Some settings that we discuss are Admin only, but all are encouraged to attend.
Bottom-line: we know that this is a very stressful and unnerving time-period. Both you and your patrons are going through a drastic shift, and we want you to know that we’re with you each and every step of the way. Springshare has you covered.
The time for looking at LibInsight is now. Data-driven decisions aren’t just buzzwords on a hot topics list. It’s the smartest way for libraries to fortify themselves in a climate where library budgets are being examined with heavy scrutiny, line item by line item. You need good data to fight the good fight. What is good data?
It’s particular — to your library, to this 6-month window, to a new initiative, etc. LibInsight is flexible allowing you to make an unlimited number of custom datasets that track what you need to stay on top of today and tomorrow.
It’s complete. LibInsight will hold your data from years ago to years from now. You can truly manage — and make sense of — everything you’ve been collecting by putting it all in one place.
Good data communicates. No longer just disparate figures in spreadsheets, LibInsight data can be considered side-by-side, year-over-year, you can take it from the top (looking at highest performers), or choose the bottoms-up approach (looking at zero-use). Good data tells you things, sidelining the best guesses.
Springshare puts “Look into LibInsight” at the top of your to-do list by assembling lots of helpful, excellent information on the powerful tool here.
LibInsight helps you keep track of the number of events you have at your library, the number of library cards issued and renewed, gate counts, reference questions answered, and so much more. Join us for a webinar that discusses the kinds of things you can store and how to analyze the data and make dashboards.
Are your E-Resources worth what you’re paying for them? Want to see how you can use COUNTER 4 and COUNTER 5 compliant dataset types in LibInsight to import cost and usage data to help answer these questions? Plan to attend this webinar and learn about SUSHI integration, too.
Wednesday, November 13, 2019 — 12:00pm – 12:30pm ET
Guest speaker, Derek MacKenzie, Head of User Services and Library Services from City, University of London joins us to share how they’re using LibInsight for service planning, internal communication, and deliver accreditation-awarded Customer Service Excellence. Don’t miss this special webinar, register today.
Wednesday, November 20, 2019 — 11:00am – 11:30am ET
Useful Videos and Recorded Training Sessions.
Check out this five-minute overview of what data problems LibInsight solves.
Enjoy these mini-training videos designed to help you explore different dataset types.
They tested/trialed lots of other data-analysis/statistical tools
None of them offered cost-per-use granularity but LibInsight does
They listed LibInsight Pluses:
Breadth — so many datasets.
Ease — Historical data and cost-per-use data are easy to add.
Their PowerPoint presentation from the conference shares tips for creating datasets and their current dataset categories, which include: Access Services, Reference, E-Resources, and more. They also share advice on inputting data into LibInsight, Dashboard tips, and provide many examples of the kinds of charts and graphs they can analyze.
The librarians at Indiana University Kokomo’s smart work and commitment to analysis carry them toward the goal of bettering service for their patrons.
LibInsight is the tool to help you gather statistics, analyze trends, and assess services. The best way to get to know if it’s right for your library is to ask for a dedicated 30-day trial.
Until then, take advantage of the targeted resources provided here.
Your data is a critical asset. Activate your data by letting LibInsight show you an exact cost, number, or percentage, or give you the big picture you need.
One of the best ways to learn how to use a tool, or to see if a tool is right for you, is to see how others are using it. To that end, we’ve asked some amazing librarians to showcase how they’re using LibWizard in their institutions. This October limited webinar series has some amazing presentations that you won’t want to miss!
For those of you who don’t know, LibWizard is our form, survey, quiz, and interactive tutorial building tool. There’s no limit to the number of items you create or the number of responses you gather. It integrates natively with LibGuides, has embeddable widgets, and robust statistics and reporting. Plus, we just released a bunch of new features (including authentication integration!) and the ability to create pre-filled surveys/forms.
But teaching and communicating doesn’t always mean the librarian to patron dynamic. Teaching often occurs between coworkers, across departments, or even teaching new hires, pages, or student workers. And LibWizard can help you there too.
To that end, no matter what type of library you’re in – you’ll want to check-out the below guest presenters and see how they’re using LibWizard to communicate to patrons, and with each other.
If you’re a public, K12, or special library… don’t be dissuaded by the use of ‘student workers’ in the title. Simply replace the term ‘student worker’ with pages, employees, staff, volunteers, or parents. The concept applies to all library types!
Librarians Are Doing Such Amazing Work — We Have To Share!
The level of energy is always pretty high here at Springshare. But, lately, we’ve been seeing such exceptionally cool work being done with our solutions, that the excitement level definitely goes up even more. We absolutely love to see smart LibGuides, super helpful LibAnswers FAQs, stunning and useful LibInsight dashboards and seamless integrations of LibCal. What do we love even more? Sharing these fine examples with you!
So, get ready to be inspired. And, remember, enthusiasm is contagious. Don’t be afraid to try new ways to help your patrons. Have fun.
One of the things people have always done is to ask librarians for recommendations, so these guides are a great way to proactively meet this need. Could the guides go on forever? Yes? Who doesn’t have more favorites that can be included? But inclusion — and what that truly means is a conversation we should be having.
Edith Campbell, a librarian at Indiana State University, built a LibGuide that has received a lot of positive attention since she shared it on social media and with good reason. The guide focuses on Inclusive Youth Literature. She begins by saying, “Diverse Books Matter” then shares the link to an article from the National Council of Teachers of English called, Students Have A Right And A Need To Read Diverse Books.
Creating and publishing an FAQ from scratch is a great way to build up a healthy amount of LibAnswers FAQs. This makes your LibAnswers Platform incredibly useful as patrons can search it day or night with a greater chance of finding what they need. As you generate these FAQs consider what will be the most impactful way to answer the question. Being as illustrative as possible is always a plus.
Delaware County Community College is on the right track to serving its patrons with a very useful FAQ answered by Eleanor Goldberg that answers the question “Are my textbooks available in the library?” The content alone should make it a very popular FAQ. However, the number of hits is not the only thing that makes an FAQ a successful one.
They picked a great topic
They included the perfect screenshot
They added a callout to really zero in on the important part of the image
They included links within the answer for more information
They shared the FAQ on social media to proactively reach even more people.
Kudos to the attention DCCC pays to their FAQs. It’s a strong step in the direction of next-level service.
Dashing LibInsight Dashboards Stop People In Their Tracks.
Of all the powerful features in LibInsight, the ability to create dashboards is one of the showstoppers. We know that the next step for your data involves
The ability to hold everything you’ve got, past, present, and future
Multiple ways to analyze the data and look at correlations
Having an effective way to share your pertinent data with interested parties
Creating accessible dashboards is an invaluable way to communicate essential information. You can make them frozen snapshots of a particular time period like the 4th Quarter. Or, you can set them up so they auto-update showing the last 2 weeks, let’s say.
We had to share with you this terrific dashboard from Massasoit Libraries put together by Erin McCoy.
LibGuides and LibCal work so brilliantly together that it’s nice to see them integrated. For instance, if you’re having an author event that you put on your calendar with a sterling description and enable registration — it makes sense to build a guide on the author, too. You can include a nice photograph and add their books, and perhaps embed a video of an interview. You can easily add this related LibGuide to the event at creation. As your patrons have a look at the event listing, they will have the opportunity to check out your guide as well.
San Jose State University recognizes the value of a LibGuides + LibCal partnership. They have seamlessly integrated the Springshare solutions in their beautiful 3D Printing LibGuide. The home page of the guide delivers vital introductory information and spotlights the 3D printers with stunning photos of the machines. The second page titled Schedule Your Print allows you to do just that. You can book a time to use one of the 3 printers. It features an embedded LibCal Space Booking as an iframe that patrons can interact with right on the spot.
This thoughtful execution from SJSU is easy to achieve and goes a long way toward creating an outstanding patron experience. This is the goal, after all. These first-rate examples all show a dedication to the people you’re serving. That commitment is something that benefits us all.
First, let’s summarize the main points regarding transitioning existing QuestionPoint customers onto the LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative:
QuestionPoint Staffers: *All* QuestionPoint staff librarians have joined Springshare and they are continuing their QP staffing work uninterrupted. The team you are used to will remain your 24/7 librarians team (plus we’ll add more staff, too – more on that below).
Business As Usual: OCLC has agreed to continue supporting QuestionPoint software until all customers migrate to LibAnswers. Any software issues with QP, please email your regular OCLC tech support contacts.
LibAnswers Coop Features: Springshare needs another two months to finish all required functionality for LibAnswers to support the full 24/7 Cooperative virtual reference service.
Migration Plans for Customers: When the LibAnswers platform has all the requisite Cooperative functionality, we will start working with existing QuestionPoint customers and plan their migration to LibAnswers.
No Interruption of Service: In the meantime, it’s business as usual for the Cooperative and for QuestionPoint software. There will be no interruption to the service of any kind while we plan and execute your migration to LibAnswers.
Commitment to Enhancing the Service: Springshare has committed to enhancing the Cooperative to make it better for all participants. This includes adding more 24/7 Librarians on staff, providing more training, improving workflows for sharing information between local admins and 24/7 Librarians, etc.
We also want your feedback and ideas on how we can make things better – please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why Did Springshare Do This?
The simplest answer is that we strongly believe in the 24/7 cooperative reference concept. We want to put our time and effort into organizing tens of thousands libraries worldwide to work together to provide 24/7 online reference & information research help to users – anytime, anywhere.
Our LibAnswers customers (1,400+ libraries worldwide, and counting) have also been asking us to explore adding Cooperative functionality and staffing options during holidays/weekends/nights/busy periods. Between creating a Cooperative from scratch vs taking an existing solution and building upon it – we decided that the latter is a better option for everyone involved… including existing QuestionPoint customers. This is truly combining the most feature rich and the most widely used reference software (LibAnswers) with the most established and the most widely used Cooperative & staffing service (QuestionPoint).
The Internet has not only changed the concept of how people access information (i.e. the ability to access vast amounts of information 24/7) – it has also disrupted the concept of access to services, too. Today’s internet user has 24/7 access to services as well.
Hail a ride anytime, 24/7? Check.
Order food at 3am? Check.
Have a pressing medical question and need to check with a doctor online, now? Check.
Replace the words “medical” and “doctor” with terms for “legal/tax/accounting/technical/design/tutoring/coding etc.” help and you get the idea. Need a date right now? We won’t go there but word on the street is that there are 24/7 services available for it, too.
Internet Users Are Accustomed to 24/7 On-Demand Access to Services
Many internet users are library users, too. If they need help from a librarian they want it now, not the next day when the library’s doors open. Therefore, it’s important for the library to join the 24/7 service offering as well – especially in today’s world where the Internet is full of misinformation. Real, professional, quality information expert help is needed quite often. This presents a real opportunity for libraries to provide high-quality live librarian help to users in their communities, 24/7.
It’s a great way to gain mindshare with users and build engagement between the library and the community. Simply put, offering 24/7 live help service helps libraries meet the needs of their 24/7 users. Every missed call or missed question/inquiry is a wasted engagement opportunity for the library. And, more engagement with users translates into more appreciation for the value-add that the library provides to its community.
Scale Matters & Springshare Can Deliver It
Since very few libraries have staff available to answer questions online 24/7/365 (because, you know, money) we believe the next best thing is for libraries to work together in a Cooperative, with Springshare librarians helping whenever needed, to achieve true 24/7/365 coverage for any library, any user, anywhere, anytime. It’s a cost-effective way to obtain round-the-clock coverage for every library in every community. Sure, there may be situations where a remote librarian is unable to answer a specific question and will need to refer them to a local librarian the next day, but that’s okay. The personal touch, and an opportunity to speak with a human librarian anytime still means a lot in turning this user into a library fan. Also, we will have effective solutions in our software platform to minimize these “unable to help” issues. You’ll be hearing more about this very soon.
We at Springshare have experience with building communities and networks. Our first product, LibGuides, owes part of its success to the concept of LibGuides community that we built where 100,000+ librarians share content, templates, ideas, best practices, etc. We have made plans to build our own 24/7 Cooperative for LibAnswers because we believe in this concept. Then, the QuestionPoint opportunity came along and we jumped on it. Seriously, what’s not to like about combining our two solutions and instantly reaching scale. The scale here is very important because with scale comes the flexibility to offer better round-the-clock coverage with more librarians, higher quality service, and – just as important – better prices, too. If you study these on-demand services you quickly learn that the key is achieving sufficient scale where the marginal cost of adding new customers decreases and as more customers and more providers are added to the network the cost of the service decreases for everyone.
Our goal is to add many LibAnswers customers to the existing Cooperative – this will add more coverage to the Cooperative but it will also mean the network is much larger and the additional staffing costs will be lower per-customer (even after adding many new 24/7 staffers to our team). Lower costs per customer, more coverage, better quality service – this is where we’re going with LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative. And we won’t stop until there are tens of thousands libraries all linked globally with many hundreds of librarians online 24/7, ready and available to help a library user in any corner of the world.
Vision for the Future of the LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative
This is why we’re beyond excited about welcoming all QuestionPoint customers and all QuestionPoint staffers to our Springshare community. In the coming weeks and months you will hear more about the awesome features we are releasing in LibAnswers to make our 24/7 Cooperative the best it can be.
More effective ways for local admins to share information with remote librarians? Check.
Expanding the Cooperative specialty beyond the traditional Public/Academic groups to include K-12, Corporate, Law, and Medical Libraries? Check.
Adding functionality for more interactive ways to engage with users (screenshare, audio, video, etc.)? Check.
Guaranteed response times for every incoming chat? Check.
Social media coverage and engagement? Check.
Sharing and exchanging Cooperative best practices? Check.
Additional options for Cooperative participation (local staff contribution – or not)? Check.
Reliable ratings and automatic feedback functionality? Check.
This is a new chapter for the Cooperative and online reference service. We’ll double-down on everything that worked great in QuestionPoint, improve on everything that didn’t, and add new functionality and new options to make the LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative the next big thing for libraries and for the communities they serve. Onwards & upwards, and welcome aboard!
-Chief Springy Slaven & the (much larger since Friday) Springshare team 🙂
Sometimes, the best way to understand how a tool can be used in your library is to see how someone else is using it in theirs.
To that end, we have two amazing speakers from the Arlington Public Library and the Marion County Public Library System each presenting on how they’re using LibStaffer at their libraries.
Join us for two opportunities to learn how other libraries are using Springy Tools, why they switched, and ways they’re using its unique features.
LibStaffer is staff and service point scheduling tool designed to take the hard work out of scheduling so you have time to focus on more important projects. Organizing the reference desk schedule for next week, or covering John’s summer vacation, rotating early AM shifts so poor Mary isn’t stuck with the 8am’s every single day – is hard work, and it never ever ends.
LibStaffer’s powerful auto-scheduling tool understands staff preferences and their availability limitations so accurate schedules are created quickly and easily. Easily:
Outline who can work on which schedule and define staff availability including time-off;