Archive for LibAnswers

Planned Server Maintenance: December 26, 2018

Server maintenance is planned for LibGuides, LibAnswers, and LibCal in all regions on Wednesday, December 26, 2018, which may cause brief downtime (no more than 15 minutes in the worst case) for a subset of our customers.

There are no changes or actions required on your side, by anyone, for any product. So you don’t have to lift a finger! This is simply a notification of the expected downtime while we update our servers. We will remind you again (via a message when you log into your system) as we approach the maintenance date.

This work is necessary to strengthen our load balancing infrastructure for all of our customers. As a reminder, we use load balancing so that any sites attempting to connect to a disrupted server automatically move to a healthy server while we replace the disrupted server. A minority of customers, however, opted to be tied to a single server due to the nature of the setup of their custom domain. Those customers will also be load balanced upon completion of this update. (If this does not sound familiar to you, you are likely not part of that minority of customers.)

We chose Wednesday, December 26, 2018 for this maintenance / brief downtime based on usage logs, which show this is one of the lowest usage periods in the entire year. We will further mitigate any disruptions by performing this server work either early in the morning or late at night in each server region’s time zone.

Please let us know if you have any questions!

LibAnswers Proactive Chat Increases User Engagement

If you’re looking for a way to increase user engagements, look no further than LibAnswers proactive LibChat widgets!

Create as many customizable chat widgets as you’d like, embed them anywhere (including https secure websites), and watch the chats roll in.

How do I make one?

It’s as easy as select, type, copy, and paste. Blammo – and you’re done!

  • Login to your LibAnswers system > LibChat from the Orange Command Bar > LibChat Widgets.
  • Select the Create New Widget Button.
  • Give your widget a name and choose either the button, slide-out tab, or floating chat widget display options.
    • Pro-tip: Give your widget a descriptive name so you can remember what style of chat widget it is, where’s it been embedded, and your autoload delay properties. Your patrons will never see the name on the public side. Your future self will thank you!
      • e.g. title: “Slide-Out Tab Widget: Right-Side, Auto-Delay (60second). Library Homepage.”
  • Go through your widget options but pay special attention to the feature titled “Autoload Delay (in seconds).” This is your proactive chat widget! Choose, in seconds, how long you want to wait before you engage your user with the widget prompt.
    • Pro-tip: For your library homepage, choose a longer autoload delay (60 – 120 seconds). For web resources were users tend to get “stuck” like your A-Z resource list or discovery layer, choose a shorter autoload delay (20 – 45 seconds).
  • You’re almost done! Take a minute and customize the language of your autoload delay window. Simply click the autoload preview in the right column to pop-out a window that allows you to customize the default language. This way, you can inform your users of how the chat works, that you’re there to help, and how easy it is to ask questions.
  • Make any additional customizations, including what happens when your LibChat widget is offline and click save.
  • Copy the Embed code > and you’re done!
  • Repeat the steps above to offer different and unique LibChat experiences on your various digital touch points. Create one proactive chat widget for your library homepage and a different one, with different help language, for your Database A-Z list!
    • Pro-tip: If you’re using the LibGuides A-Z list, login to LibGuides > Content > Databases A-Z List > Settings > LibChat Widget > to add your proactive LibChat widget to your LibGuides A-Z list. This is where giving your chat widget as descriptive a name as possible really helps you out!

Will it increase my user engagement?

While we can’t promise how your specific demographic will respond, recent research articles written by Michael Epstein from the University of San Diego’s Copley Library and another from Lydia Pyburn from The University of Texas at Arlington Library indicate that the answer is yes!

The Reference Department at the University of San Diego’s Copley Library implemented Proactive LibChat widgets and saw a 600% increase in chat engagements.1

The University of Texas at Arlington Library doubled their chat engagements from 4,020 (2015-2016) to 8,120 (2016-2017) after implementing proactive LibChat and for some months saw their incoming chats tripled.2

Are there examples of the LibAnswers Proactive LibChat widget I can check out?

Absolutely, there are probably loads more out there in SpringyLand…but here are just a few of our favorites!

College of the Mainland Library
Floating LibChat Widget w/ Custom Icons

Ashland University Library
Slide out Tab Widget

Where can I learn more about adding LibAnswers proactive LibChat widgets?

We’re hosting webinars in October with guest speaker Michael Epstein from the University of San Diego’s Copley Library. We’ll take a quick tour of LibAnswers, explore live library examples of LibAnswers Proactive LibChat widgets, and Michael Epstein will present on their use-case at the Copley Library Reference Department.

Citations

1. Epstein, Michael. “That thing is so annoying: How proactive chat helps us reach more users.” College & Research Libraries News [Online], 79.8 (2018): 436. Web. 3 Oct. 2018.

2. Pyburn, Lydia L. “Implementing a Proactive Chat Widget in an Academic Library.Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning [Online], 2018.

LibAnswers 2.23 Update Coming Soon!

The LibAnswers 2.23 update is on its way to you this week, and will be released in all regions by the end of the day on Thursday October 11th, 2018. This update is all about refinements to the new chat operator interface. We’ve been listening to your feedback and are implementing several great features to streamline answering and keeping track of chats. Read on for the details!

New Chat Dashboard Updates

  • Pop-out Chat View – We’re adding a new viewing option that makes it easier to view multiple chats at the same time – the new Multi Chat View option displays all incoming and internal chats “popped out” in the chat operator screen, so you can move windows, resize, and keep an eye on multiple conversations at once. To use the new view, head to the Settings tab in the Operator Console and select “View Chats in Multi Chat Overlay”. To make this your default view every time you log in, head to Edit Account > Chat Settings and choose “View Chats in Multi Chat Overlay”.
  • Smoother Chat Claiming – We’ve added a handy “Claim” button in the lefthand list of chats, to both help indicate which chats need to be claimed, and make it easier to claim a chat with just one click. In addition, chats waiting to be claimed will always be displayed at the top of the chats list, so they’re more obvious.
  • Departments: Who’s Online – Department chats now include a full list of “Who’s in this chat”, so you know everyone who could be part of a department chat along with their current online/offline status. To see who’s online, click on the department chat then select Department Members.
  • Chat Styles – We’ve updated the Chat Operator typing pane to support basic HTML styles (bold, italic, and underline) without needing to type in the actual HTML. Use the new button options in the chat pane to style your text and make your chats more expressive.
  • Scrub Internal Chat Messages – If you’d prefer not to save and display internal chat history indefinitely, you now have the option to clear the internal chat history after X days. To set this option, Admins can head to Admin > LibChat Set-up > Scrub Internal Chat Messages. By setting this option, all internal chats (include sitewide chat, department chats, and op-to-op chats) will be deleted and cannot be retrieved. Also note that this does not impact patron chats – to scrub patron chats, contact our support team.
  • Chat Transcripts Include Custom Pre-Chat Questions – Now when you view and/or export chat transcripts, we’ll include the contents from any pre-chat questions the patron may have answered before the chat began.
  • Updated Dashboard Notifications – We’ve tweaked the dashboard notification messages to clarify between new chats and new tickets.
  • And we have a couple of Bug Fixes to share:
    • Now, when you add a chat to Reference Analytics, the chat question and answer fields will be included in the correct Reference Analytics fields, rather than both being added to the Question field
    • New chat sound notifications will now sound for both chats you’re looking at currently as well as chats that you’re not currently looking at.
    • We’ve fixed an issue where Internal Notes added when a chat is closed were not being appended to the chat transcript.
    • And we’ve fixed an issue on the new chat dashboard where Idle Messages weren’t being displayed in the proper time period – now they’ll display as expected.

Ticket & FAQ Updates

  • Edit Patron Contact Info – We’ve added a simple editing interface so you can now edit the patron information (including name, email address, or SMS number). This is particularly helpful for patrons that prefer to go by a different name, or have multiple email addresses that should be considered part of the same record. To edit a patron’s contact info, on the ticket answer page, select User History > Patron Contact Info.
  • Replies to Really Old Tickets = New Tickets – We’re here to help you in the fight against zombie tickets – now, you can choose to treat a new reply to a ticket from X months ago as a new ticket. This is meant to help particularly with email ticket chains, where the patron may be replying to an old email thread with a brand new question. Breaking the ticket out into its own ticket is helpful both for your site statistics (because odds are these are truly new questions and should be counted as such) as well as equitable question distribution (so the same person doesn’t wind up owning a ticket that could potentially span years). To set this new setting, Admins can head to Admin > System Settings > General > Break Replies into New Tickets.
  • File Uploads When Transferring – We now support file uploads when transferring a ticket to another user.
  • Bug Fix for Required Ticket Fields – Previously, in some limited circumstances, it was possible for the patron to submit a new ticket to your system without completing a required field (such as the Question field). We’ve fixed this issue so you should no longer see the occasional ticket that doesn’t include a question.
  • Save FAQ Content While Editing – We’re improving the FAQ creation experience by automatically saving the content you enter in the RTE, while you edit. This is super useful if, like our own Springy Tim, you have a habit of accidentally navigating away from the Create FAQ page in the midst of editing your content – now, if this happens, just return to the FAQ page you were working on and your content will still be there.

Register for LibAnswers Training or watch training recordings to learn more about the new LibChat interface & all LibAnswers functionality!

Springshare Integration with Discovery Layers

In a recent interview with Springshare, LibApps power user Amber Tatnall, Director of Library Learning and Resources at York County Community College in Maine stated,

I think if folks don’t integrate everything, they’re missing an opportunity to reach someone.

From the moment we wake up, we make thousands of decisions a day. Opportunity Cost, or the cost of doing X at the expense of Y, is an often used mechanism for decision making. However, an often missing piece of these mental algorithms is the cost of doing nothing. Within libraryland, the cost of doing nothing can manifest itself as lower user engagement or reduced web traffic hits.

If your library subscribes to a discovery layer product like EBSCO Discovery Service, Ex Libris Summon, or Ex Libris Primo, there are multiple ways you can integrate your Springshare tools into your Discovery layers.

These integrations allow you more virtual touch points to ‘reach’ your users with a minimum of effort.

What can you integrate?

When it comes to discovery layer integration, your mind might immediately jump to LibGuides integration. And that’s great! LibGuides is a great fit for integration with your discovery layers. However, if you subscribe to multiple Springshare tools – you can (and should!) integrate them all. Let’s explore!

  • LibCal – integrate your LibCal events so when users search on “MLA”, your upcoming Citation workshops display prominently.
  • LibAnswers LibChat – embed a LibChat sidebar widget so no matter where a user ends up in your discovery layer, there’s always a way for them to ‘ask for help’.
    • Pro Tip: Create a proactive chat widget timed to pop out around the 3 – 4 minutes mark. If a user is on a discovery layer page for at least 3 minutes (that’s a long time!), your LibChat widget can slide out and ask the user if they need help. In a recent College & Research Libraries News article, librarian Michael Epstein found that proactive chat led to a 600% increase in user engagement.
  • LibAnswers Systems & Services Management Tool – Make use of the Systems & Services Management Tool to create a discovery layer-specific widget that integrates LibChat, relevant FAQs, and a feedback mechanism for patrons to submit an idea, report a problem, or share praise.

The New School embeds the Systems & Services Management Tool Widget right into their Primo Discovery Layer.

  • LibGuides E-Reserves – when students see a search box, they assume it works like Google. Enter anything in it, and you’ll get some results. If you subscribe to our LibGuides E-Reserves module, you can integrate your course reserves in Dublin Core format right into your discovery layer via OAI-PMH. This way, when a student inevitably types “Professor Smith” into your search box, they’ll actually get relevant results.
    • Pro Tip: We support custom Dublin Core metadata fields so you can customize how your E-Reserves display in your OAI-PMH compliant discovery layer.
  • LibAnswers Ask Us Form – Northeastern University used the LibAnswers API to create a custom ‘Report a Problem’ form in their discovery layer. Submissions get routed to LibAnswers with the discovery layer URL automatically added.

LibAnswers Form auto-populates the URL of where the user was in the discovery layer

Integrated a ‘Report a Problem’ LibAnswers Form

  • LibCal Equipment Booking Add-on Module – integrate your ‘library of things’ into your discovery layer using the robust LibCal Equipment Booking API. This way, when users search on 3D printers, or makerspace labs, they can actually view and reserve time using your equipment!

Where can I learn more about Discovery Layer integration?

Ask, and you shall receive! On September 19, Springshare conducted an in-depth training session on integrating Springy tools with EBSCO EDS, Ex Libris Summon, Ex Libris Primo / Primo VE. We even had a guest speaker from EBSCO, David Podboy, as well as Laura Guy, recent retiree from Colorado School of Mines, to showcase Springy integrations complete with examples and instructions.

The good news? You can watch this recording and download the presenter slides, which include detailed examples and instructions.

We hope you’ll take some time to watch the video and learn how you can avoid the cost of doing nothing by integrating your Springy Tools into as many virtual touch points as possible. As Amber stated, “… if folks don’t integrate everything, they’re missing an opportunity to reach someone.

Click to access our discovery layer training session, including examples and presenter notes and files.

LibAnswers Update: Chat Improvements and More Coming Soon!

The LibAnswers release is on its way and will be released to all regions by the end of the day on Thursday August 9th. This release is chock full of chat dashboard stability and UI improvements – read on for the full scoop!

New Chat Dashboard Updates

We’ve heard your early feedback from using the new and improved Chat Operator Dashboard, and are excited to bring you several key updates and new features, including:

  • FAQ Search – It’s back! We’ve added the ability to search FAQs and share them with patrons and internal chats. You’ll see this FAQ search ability available from any chat area, including all internal and personal chats – this offers a quick way to search for existing help documentation from your site, and share it with patrons lickety split. And even better, we’ve improved the “share a link” functionality – now, instead of needing to copy and paste the link, you can just click the link icon from within the list of results and you’re off to the races.
  • Current Operator Shown In All Operators List – We heard from several folks that it felt more intuitive to show the current operator in the all operators list, so we made it happen! Even better, in addition to just showing your name in the operators list (which makes it easy to keep an eye on your current chat status), when you click on your name, you’ll find a chat entry area that’s personalized for you! Use this space as your personal notes area – you can use it to create draft messages, or search FAQs, or write yourself reminders, etc.
  • Responsive Design Elements were improved with this update, so the new chat dashboard will respond better for tablets and other smaller screens. Optimizing the chat dashboard for mobile devices will be coming in a future release.
  • Less Clicks Required to Close Chat – We’ve updated the various end chat behaviors to reduce the number of clicks – now, when you go to end a chat, you’ll have just one click to end, instead of needing to navigate through an additional dropdown menu.

Improved Chat Stability

In this release we’ve made several big under the hood improvements to help make the LibChat infrastructure as reliable and fault tolerant as possible. One of the biggest visible improvements is something we’re very excited about – in the new chat dashboard, if something inadvertently causes the chat operator to go offline for a moment – ex if the internet blips out momentarily, or if you accidentally navigate away from the chat pane and then hit the back button – you won’t lose any current chats in progress.

Full Admin Side HTTPS Support – No Action Required!

In this update we’re also introducing full HTTPS support for the admin side of your system, for all sites! This change means all of the admin side interactions in the system – from replying to tickets to answering chats to viewing statistics and running reports, every action you take on the admin side is now run via HTTPS enabled pages, so all system communication is more secure.

Please note that this update automatically updates every site’s admin-side pages to HTTPS. To update your public side pages to HTTPS (which we highly recommend doing!), check out our instructions available at https://ask.springshare.com/libapps/faq/596.

Plus Bug Fixes and More!

  • Accessibility Improvements have been implemented for chat widgets – we’ve made them more screen reader friendly, so users with all types of assistive devices will have a smooth chat experience. We’ve also updated aria information in several key places
  • Remove the “Welcome to the New Chat Dashboard” message – For sites that have chosen to upgrade to the new chat operator screen, you’ll no longer see the “Welcome to the New Chat Dashboard” message each time you log in.
  • Character Escaping Improvements were made in a couple of places – now, if a patron shares a URL that contains an & in the pre-chat questions, or if you create a “Contact Us” link that contains an &, these will be rendered properly right from the get go.
  • Chat Links Open in New Window – We discovered a bug with the new chat operator interface where, if a patron shared a URL in one of the pre-chat question areas, those URLs were not opening in a new window. Now, all URLs shared via chat will open in a new window, so you won’t inadvertently navigate away from the chat pane.

Tips for Promoting Internal Staff Communication, Collaboration, and Community

Are you engaged?

It’s funny to say, but people are always talking about communication. In every relationship dynamic, the secret…is always communication — with your child, with your clients, with pets, with other countries, with your barista. Are you communicating effectively? Even more to the point, how can you communicate better?

This has always been a trending topic and it’s even more of a challenge now. With so many ways to reach out and because the traditional work environment is morphing with flex hours and telecommuting, virtual possibilities, it helps to reboot the conversation.

The one thing you will learn quickly is that it’s all about engagement. You have to be engaged in the solutions you put forth or the team won’t be either. So, if you really care about boosting internal staff communication to improve collaboration and create a sense of community, then you’re already on the right track. You care. The sooner we stop talking about communication and make improving it a real priority, the sooner we will see the wonderful effect it has on team productivity and morale.

The leaders have to lead.

If you want to encourage active internal communication amongst the staff, you’ll want to get in the mix. There are teams all over the world who find themselves with new directives sprinkled with enthusiastic words about the new intranet tool that has been licensed — so the company can better connect. It improves efficiency, they’re told. And, while this may be true, so many of those sharing the new mandate will never be seen actively participating in the intranet. They say the best way to lead is by example. Well, whether you intend to or not, you’re always leading by example. So get in there and show them how it’s done!

LibGuides CMS has Groups functionality. Combine that with its Access Controls feature and you can create a locked down group and use it as a staff intranet! Many libraries are starting to do this as it’s super convenient.

  • Your internal group in LibGuides CMS can be a place where you get to know each other better. You can have each team member build a guide where s/he shares not just education and work experience, but also hobbies and interests, favorite TV shows and go-to Karaoke songs, photos of family or pets or a favorite vacation vista and more.
  • You can facilitate collaboration on projects that should be tackled next or get feedback on your latest instruction session idea by enabling Discussion Boards. You can engage with your team right in your site by encouraging open discussions or you can post specific questions. Remember, you can enable Discussion Boards on as many guides in your intranet group as you wish!

  • Cultivate a fun internal voice by using the blogging tool. Maybe your library organized a particularly successful event recently. Or, maybe you had excellent reviews on a recent class you offered. Have the folks in charge write a blog post about it. This gives staff a chance to share and shine!
  • It’s your intranet, what do you want to use it for? Ensuring an actively accessed intranet is about making it a “place” you’d want to hang out. Of course, you can build guides that hold documents and files and links and images pertaining to a current project. But alongside those, be creative about your guides. Perhaps the Director wants to build a guide about what’s on the horizon with tabs for each quarter? Give your retiring colleague an opportunity to build a farewell guide! Maybe you should start a staff book club or book review guide! Have fun! This is where communication leads to community.

The new water cooler.

Do offices even have the proverbial water cooler anymore? At Springshare, we’re chatting all the time, but from our desks or devices. Don’t curtail the chatting. Instead, foster it. It’s much faster than opening/sending/replying to emails. LibChat, a component of the LibAnswers Platform, not only helps you answer your patrons efficiently, it also allows you to chat amongst yourselves.

  • You can transfer questions from patrons to another operator. This is useful if there is someone better suited to answering the question online with you or in case you are about to go on your break and you need to start feeding questions to the next person on duty.
  • You can ask a colleague a question — behind the scenes — to help you answer the patron.
  • You can chat with all LibAnswers colleagues that are online at the time or initiate a chat with someone in particular.

A mixed bag is good. People will chat with each other about projects, ask for feedback, share an experience. But they’ll also send a birthday shout out and ask each other about playlists that move the day along. The important thing is that it’s a happy work environment. People who know and like each other want to collaborate.

Plus, the LibChat Operator Console was just updated with an entirely new interface making internal/staff-only chats that much easier.

Check in — so they don’t check out.

You can set up tools and you can implement strategies to improve communication in your workplace, but one of the best things you can do is frequently check in with the team. Use LibWizard to create an anonymous survey and ask folks if something is missing from the intranet. See if there’s a page they never use. Use the multi-select checkbox field to ask them which portions of the intranet they find most useful or interesting.

Not only will it help you improve by filling in the blanks or kicking out stuff that’s just taking up space, but it lets your team know you really do care about nurturing a productive and supportive and — dare we say — fun workplace.

How LibAnswers Helps You Provide Excellent Customer Service

It all begins with a question.

You’ve got someone inside your doors. (If you use your imagination, this exercise will work for brick and mortar or virtual examples.) Perhaps she’s looking around at your signage. Maybe he even walks up to the bulletin board to see the flyers you’ve designed, written and posted about your thoughtful programming. If you’re lucky, in a little while your patron will ask you a question.

We say lucky because it is a truly excellent thing to have that person engage you and your library team. To initiate interaction is not always something people feel encouraged to do. Patrons might come to your website, look around a bit, and then navigate elsewhere. Or, they might come and spend time in the library but never learn about all of the resources and events and instruction that exist there. This is why — when a patron asks a question, librarians are excited by the opportunity it presents.

The LibAnswers Platform is designed to help you handle all the questions that come into your library, no matter which avenue your patrons prefer to use to ask them! Whether they choose to call, email, tweet or maybe they like the immediacy of chat or prefer face-to-face interactions or — it’s highly likely they are all about texting, LibAnswers helps you answer them. Plus, you can build an FAQ that works 24/7 and you get incredibly useful statistics and data.

Baltimore County Public Library puts their patrons first.

Academic libraries have been using the LibAnswers Platform to help their students, faculty, and library staff get the answers they need since we launched LibAnswers. Public libraries have begun doing some really inventive things with the system in order to prioritize internal efficiency and provide exemplary customer service.

Cynthia Dennis is the Information Specialist in the Virtual Services and Media Creation Department at Baltimore County Public Library. She and the staff in her department came up with the brilliant idea to add 19 additional LibAnswers queues — one for each of their branches — to their system so they could create what amounts to a communication nerve center for BCPL.

This is what Cynthia said about the project:

We used a lot of your Springy help pages to do the training so not too much time was spent on reinventing the wheel! Now we use LibAnswers instead of traditional email to manage email questions from customers. We also use it to quickly communicate with each other about questions and/or to transfer questions to the best group or person to answer the customer. This has solved a lot of our communication problems that revolve around getting our customers served quickly and efficiently since we often need to either consult with or transfer to another department or branch. Of course, we had used the phone and regular email for this but phone calls can wind up in telephone tag and email can fill up quickly with things of lesser importance. So, using LibAnswers keeps the customer front and center and it keeps stats for us so – It’s a win, win!

 

Springshare loves Baltimore County Public Library’s commitment to their patrons. Moreover, we think it’s fantastic that they — driven by the goal to answer their customers efficiently — examined the internal day-to-day behind the scenes operations that go into answering a question. By doing that, they created a dynamic 19-branch internal hub that facilitates communication so well that they’re answering patron questions with ease. It’s inspiring!

Learn more about using the LibAnswers Platform to maximize staff efficiencies.

Join us for some special webinars. Remember, if you can’t attend these, just register and select the option to “watch video.” We will send the recording as soon as it’s available. For more information about the LibAnswers Platform, contact sales@springshare.com.

LibAnswers Webinar: Productivity Tactics for Enhancing Customer Service

Wednesday, July 18, 2018, at 11:30am ET

Thursday, July 26, 2018, at 3:30pm ET

LibAnswers Update – New Chat Operator Interface is Here!

The new LibChat Operator console will be released to all regions by the end of the day on Friday June 29th, 2018. But, keep in mind that we are not changing the current console to this new version just yet – we’re making the new chat operator console available to everyone to test it out, try things, get accustomed… and then when you are ready to switch to the new console on the system level, your LibAnswers system administrator can make the new console the default for everyone, in system settings.

When you login to LibChat, you will still see the current/existing console by default. To use this new console instead, head to LibChat -> New Chat Dashboard and you can switch back and forth between the current and the new chats on different days – until you are fully comfortable making the new chat interface the only one to use for the entire site.

The new Chat Operator console makes it easier to hold multiple chats with patrons, to chat with individual colleagues – or all colleagues from a department – all from one place! Words don’t do justice to this new console, so instead let’s just take a look:

 

  • List View of All Chats – The new chat UI utilizes a standardized list view of all ongoing chats, so it’s easy to keep track of all of your conversations without having to move and resize boxes.
  • Expanded Chat Pane – Now you have a much more spacious area for each chat conversation you’re part of. We’ve also made a number of quality of life improvements inside the chat pane for operators, including left-orienting all of the chat conversations, adding clearer indicators of who said what, better timestamps and improved “Patron is typing” notifications, etc.
  • Conversation history with Patrons – If you choose to do so, you can view the history of conversations (both chats and tickets) from the patron you’re chatting with. Of course we’re fully aware of the privacy concerns as well, so this tool will only return chat and ticket history from the time period inside your privacy scrub window. The privacy scrub is a standard feature of LibAnswers – it’s run on a monthly basis, and you get to choose the number of months for which you’d like to retain data prior to the scrub – contact our support team to set this up for your site.
  • Dedicated Department Chats – We’ve added dedicated chat channels for each department you monitor, so everyone who monitors a department can be part of the same ongoing internal conversation. Use these new department chats to discuss and strategize around chat question trends, staffing coverage issues, or the latest departmental happenings – it’s up to you!
  • New Internal Note Field for a Chat – A new operator-side internal note feature displays at the end of each chat session. It’s a handy way to communicate high level information about the chat with admins or other staff members who may be reviewing the chat transcript after the fact. Any internal note you add will be appended to the chat transcript itself, keeping all the information in one tidy place.
  • Answer Tickets from the LibChat Interface – As with the existing chat interface, you can respond to SMS, Twitter and Facebook messages right from the new chat dashboard, so it’s super easy to keep on top of all instantaneous methods of communication. In the future we’ll also be working on a way to answer all tickets from this pane, making LibChat a one stop shop for all communication!

To give the new chat interface a spin head to the orange command bar and choose LibChat > New Chat Dashboard. The new chat dashboard is fully linked to your existing department affiliations, so it’s easy to try out answering patron questions right from the get go. Just be aware, internal department chats between users on the old and new chat dashboard won’t work (though you can still talk with individual librarians between the old and new chat). Once you’re ready to fully make the switch for your whole site, admins can head to Admin > LibChat Setup > Settings to switch everyone over to the new dashboard.

Additional Updates and Features

But why stop there – we have several additional LibAnswers updates and features to share, including:

  • SMS Macros – We’ve added the option to create macros that are specific for SMS messages – these macros don’t contain any HTML, so they’re perfect for sending to SMS users! To create an SMS macro, head to Admin > Macros > Create SMS Macro.
  • Edit FAQ Info from the Knowledge Base Explorer – We’re adding the ability to edit high-level information about an FAQ – including its group assignment, assigned topics, keywords, and status – right from the KBE, instead of having to navigate to each individual FAQ. Head to the FAQ Knowledge Base and click the edit icon to give it a spin.
  • FAQ Topic Multi-Select – We’re making it loads easier to apply multiple topics to an FAQ – now, instead of selecting each topic individually from a drop down list, we’ve updated these menus to support multiple selections and easy keyboard navigation. To see it in action, head to the edit FAQ page.

LibAnswers 2.20 Coming Soon

The LibAnswers 2.20 release is on its way, and will be live in all regions by end of the day on Thursday May 24th. We have several great features to share, including GDPR privacy updates and an exciting announcement about upcoming changes to the Chat Operator screen!

GDPR & Privacy Related Updates

We’ve worked on a number of issues to help get LibAnswers ready for the impending GDPR changes. In case you missed it, check out our full GDPR post. Here are the tools we’re rolling out in this update:

Public Cookie Notice and Privacy Statement – We’re adding an optional, dismissible notice to alert users about the use of cookies and IP address collection on LibAnswers public pages. To turn on this notice and customize its text, admins can head to Admin > System Settings > Privacy Settings.

Data Submission Notices – We’re also adding an optional data submission notification, to help you alert your patrons to what personal information you collect in order to submit a question or idea to LibAnswers. This gives you an opportunity to let your patrons know why you collect particular data in forms, what that data is used for, etc. To turn on this notice and customize its text, admins can head to Admin > System Settings > Privacy Settings.

Expanded Privacy Scrub – We’re expanding our current privacy scrub options so that now, in addition to scrubbing patron name and email address, you can also choose to scrub all possible identifying information from both ticket interactions and/or LibChat transcripts on a rolling basis.

This new privacy scrub option will remove the entire contents of a ticket conversation and/or chat transcript – all of the messages that were exchanged between librarian and patron will be removed, and replaced with a short indicator message: [Removed during Privacy Scrub]. This option will also remove all of the patron’s responses to question and chat forms, so all possible identifying information will be removed.

With this new scrub option, your site will still retain usage data, so you’ll still be able to see things like how many chats or tickets came in by month, day, and hour. All potential identifying information will be removed and cannot be restored. Once the scrub is run, your tickets and/or chat transcripts will look like the following:

To enable the privacy scrub for your site, get in touch with our awesome support team and let them know whether you’d like to scrub just name, email, and SMS number, or whether to scrub the entire contents of the conversation for tickets and/or chat transcripts. Please also let us know how many months of data you’d like to retain before running the scrub.

Additional Updates and Fixes

  • We’ve added a new “Link to FAQ” option on the Add/Edit FAQ page, so it’s easier to add links to related FAQs when building an FAQ. To use this option, head to the Add/Edit FAQ page > Add/Edit Links.
  • We’ve added a Keyword Filter on the FAQ Entries Knowledge Base Explorer page, so it’s easy to filter results by a particular keyword. To try it out, head to the Knowledge Base Explorer and filter by Keyword.
  • We fixed a bug where Topic List Widgets weren’t opening links in a new window when that option was selected (now they will!).
  • We fixed a bug with the Helpful Tools search box on the Ticket Answer page – now, if you search for a public FAQ on this page, the results will open in a new window so you can easily browse existing FAQs.

And Coming Soon…Chat Operator Redesign!

We’re also hard at work behind the scenes to bring you a really exciting update – this summer, we’ll be rolling out a brand new interface for Librarians monitoring and responding to chats! This new interface will completely streamline the process of responding to patron chats – we’re moving away from having each chat open in its own window, and moving toward a list view of all of your chats in progress. Active chats are listed on the left, and each chat conversation is displayed on the right, so it’s worlds easier to manage multiple conversations without needing to rearrange chat windows. We’re also adding a host of frequently requested chat features with this update, including things like improved Group chats, improved alerts (including a nicer alert tone when new messages arrive), better integrated user history, and so much more!

Needless to say, we are super excited for the new chat update, but we also recognize that the new UI is a big departure from the existing chat UI. For this reason, the new chat UI will initially be an opt-in update – once it rolls out, all librarians at your site will be able to try it out live before you make the switch. Once your site is ready, your site admins can officially switch everyone to the new interface. If you have ideas or suggestions about what you’d like to see in the new LibChat Operator screen, please let our support crew know and they will relay the message to the LibAnswers product team.

Are you a Social Butterfly?

What are you saying? And how?

The minute you get out of bed, you have a new day and with it the opportunity to be social, if you choose to be. Though, perhaps, even your choice to keep to yourself all day and not interact with people is still communicating something. Previous generations tried to hammer home the recommendation that you should think before you speak.

Today, there are so many ways to speak to each other that we should be thinking all the time about what we’re saying and how. We can go even further to suggest that when and where should also be current considerations.

What about why? Well, the why seems to be the same reason throughout time. The why…is to connect.

Social Media — Sounds fun, right?

The idea behind social media is a really great one when you think about it. You read a good book and you fall in love with it. You tell everyone you run into about it. Excellent. But, now, you also have the option of tweeting about it, posting it on Facebook, shooting out the cover on Instagram, putting it on a Pinterest board, etc. You can share the love far and wide. It’s fun to share. But, what we’re talking about is a bit different — more about cultivating a social media voice. Coming up with a cool game plan and having an entertaining voice. We have some clients doing exactly that.

According to a Pew Research Social Media Fact Sheet, all age groups studied from March of 2005 to January of 2018 have shown a substantial increase in social media use. In the 18 – 29-year-old category, the numbers went from just 7% to 88%. So, it stands to reason that Academic Libraries would step up their social game. The English Faculty Library at the University of Cambridge sent out a tweet pointing their followers to a LibGuide they created on Shakespeare resources. They’re not the first to build such a guide, nor the first to publicize a guide’s existence via tweet. However, they took a great approach.

How much do we want to check out that guide?! Even more, how much do we want to go to that library and interact with those librarians? And, that’s the ticket. This whole action plan makes perfect sense, too. You’ve built these excellent LibGuides and crafted amazing LibAnswers FAQs. You’ve put together LibWizard tutorials and set up Events and Spaces in LibCal. Using Social Media to spread the news about them is a marketing strategy that boosts the usage of the stuff you’ve built and the resources you’ve included within them. Next, the challenge is to be creative.

The best way to connect is to listen.

The University of St. Andrews Library is fearless and inventive in the way they interact with students. Like many institutions, they have a way for people to write out comments or provide feedback. What’s super is that they scan those comment cards and then create a LibAnswers FAQ out of it. Going the extra mile, they create a tweet with the original comment and then include a link to the FAQ with the complete answer.

Additionally, this helps to close the feedback loop. How often have you been solicited for your feedback, only to see it disappear into the ether and go…nowhere. Posting the actual comment cards, with the link to the FAQ demonstrates that solicited feedback was received, discussed, and responded to – even if that response is no. Points for being thorough!

Every interaction is an opportunity to show who you are.

In a Sprout Social report, it was discovered that — no surprise — people don’t like being ignored. What was surprising was how “…90% of people surveyed have used social in some way to communicate directly with a brand.” Apparently, “social surpasses phone and email as the first place most people turn when they have a problem or issue with a product or service”, according to Sprout’s consumer survey. The University of St. Andrews Library is clearly one step ahead as it takes paper comments and shares the questions and answers with its followers to reach as many people as possible. They’re being proactive in the Social Media world. No matter which channel your patrons choose to use to communicate with you, it’s always a good idea to be responsive.

The University of Liverpool Library saw a tweet, that by the admission of the sender, seemed to be a complaint that might not have needed such a public forum. But by using social listening, the library took the opportunity to connect and in doing so, showed not just that one person but all their followers how engaging their librarians are…even when the library wasn’t directly included in the tweet.

The library shows it’s listening, even if the outcome isn’t resolved, proactive listening goes a long way to alleviate customer issues. Then they present a LibAnswers FAQ that details the food and drink policy in the library and which identifies where the water fountains are. A spectacular example of the LibAnswers Platform’s ability to have staff entered FAQs come in handy. And to keep their presence light, they add in the bit about hydration – sure to put a smile on the face of their frustrated patron.

So, let LibGuides and LibAnswers do the heavy lifting for you. You’ve most likely created excellent content in there. Then pay attention to your Social Media channels for opportunities to interact with your patrons, link to the guides and FAQs that give them all the particulars they need.

Consider using LibAnswers Social Media Management with built-in Social Listening to create richer patron experiences, instill a company culture of social listening, and closing the feedback loop.

Then enjoy your followers. Have fun with them. Be yourself. Make a connection.