Archive for 24/7 Chat Cooperative

Code Release: New LibAnswers, LibCal, LibStaffer & LibInsight features coming your way!

Happy New Year to all, and goodbye to 2020! We are pleased to open 2021 with some great improvements across several Springy apps. These releases are on their way to you next week and will be live in all regions by the end of the day on Friday, January 15. Read about: LibAnswers | LibCal | LibStaffer | LibInsight

LibAnswers

We are so very excited to introduce this newest LibAnswers release. This update brings our brand new Quality of Service suite of features – these features are designed to help you track and analyze how satisfied your patrons are with the service you provide via LibAnswers, and keep your finger on the pulse of how your users are feeling. Read on for all the details of these exciting new features. For full release notes of every feature that is rolling out in this update, please visit the Springshare Lounge Release Notes.

Quality of Service Features

Our new Quality of Service features are designed to help you collect feedback from patrons on their overall satisfaction with the service you provide via LibAnswers. These features will assist you with collecting direct patron feedback in the form of a follow-up user satisfaction survey that’s sent to patrons 24 hours after a ticket has been marked closed. In addition, these features include a wealth of indirect feedback on patron satisfaction, in the form of a suite of new metrics available for every ticket that show data related to time to first reply, total turnaround time, and number of interactions (i.e. the number of time that staff members interacted with a given ticket). 

Our new suite of Quality of Service features includes the following elements:

  • Image of Follow-up user satisfaction emailFollow-up User Satisfaction Email/Survey – With this new feature, you can create a follow-up user satisfaction survey and accompanying email to send to patrons. The survey you create consists of one customizable “rating” question in which you specify the number of values in the scale and customize the scale’s labels and layout, so it’s fully targeted to your users. Users will respond to this rating question directly in the email by clicking on their chosen response. Choosing a rating/response opens a new tab in the patron’s default browser which prompts users for additional free-text comments to explain the rating they’ve chosen.  Users will receive this email approximately 24 hours after their ticket has been marked closed, and users will only ever receive a survey once per ticket. 
  • Quality of Service Reports – These new reports gather all Quality of Service metrics and reports together in one place, so it’s easy to see your patrons’ satisfaction at a glance. Admins will find these reports at Stats > Quality of Service; here you’ll find reports on patron responses to user satisfaction surveys, as well as turnaround metrics that will help you investigate tickets with long vs short turnaround metrics. 
  • Updated Ticket Answer Page – We’re updating the layout on the ticket answer page to include all of the available turnaround time metrics (time to first reply, time to close, and total interactions). We’ve also made some additional changes in the page to better expose information about your patrons; you’ll see a new Patron Info box in the top, right corner of the page, which displays high-level info about the patron, responses they’ve provided in your question form, and their full patron history details, so you can view the full history of conversations with this particular patron. 

To start customizing your site’s user satisfaction survey and email, admins can head to Admin > Queues > Edit Queue > Quality

Excited? Us too!! And in even more exciting news, this is just our first step into giving you a full picture of your user’s satisfaction. In the coming months, we’ll also introduce a new suite of features centered around calculating your Net Promoter Score, a standardized industry metric of user satisfaction. We’re creating new widgets that can be embedded in any website and collect satisfaction data, as well as targeted reports that will showcase your users’ satisfaction and segmentation metrics. Stay tuned for this exciting new module, coming in the first quarter of 2021!

In addition to the new Quality of Service tools, we have so many more features coming in this release. For the full list of new features, please check out the Springshare Lounge Release Notes. There you can read about all of the new features we’re introducing, including:

  • We’ve added a couple of new LibChat settings:
    • To automatically create follow-up tickets from missed chats; and
    • To limit users to viewing chat transcripts only in departments to which they belong.
  • We’re adding a full emoji picker to the LibChat dashboard, so you can pick from a library of over 400 emoji with the click of a button! 🙂
  • We’re improving the connection between chats and follow-up tickets; now you’ll be able to view at-a-glance which chat transcripts and missed chats have had follow-up tickets created. 
  • Did you know you can launch a patron chat without a chat widget? It’s true! We’re expanding our documentation to make this clearer, and we’re also updating our direct chat link option so it can accept more query string parameters, so you can programmatically pass information like a user’s name and email address into a chat. Hello, chatbots! 

Upcoming LibAnswers Training Sessions:

Also check out our recorded sessions! [Back to Top]

LibCal

We’re happy to bring you the following LibCal updates to help improve Seat/Space booking daily operations and policies! Also included in this release are some helpful usability features as well as our new Email Queue feature, which you can read about further below.

Seats/Spaces & Equipment

  • We’ve added the ability to select multiple booking statuses when browsing the Booking Explorers for Spaces & Equipment.
  • If set for a location, the “Reminder” and/or “Follow-up” email info will now display in the booking details. Also, if mediation is enabled, the details of mediation approvals/denials will be available to view in the booking details.
  • A new location setting enables only LibCal Admin users to check users in or out of a booking.
  • The ability to modify the Check In/Out Date & Time fields for a booking is now available on the admin side, when viewing the details of a booking.

Appointments

  • If the availability duration entered does not meet the minimum requirement for a user’s set duration plus padding, the user will not be able to save the availability until making adjustments.
  • We’ve modified the stats report to only display available times for users currently assigned to a group.
  • When the Exchange/Outlook integration is enabled for an Appointments user, events created in Outlook by this integration will be marked “Private.”

Misc.

  • Verification of Email Delivery! From this release forward, you will be able to see whether an email was successfully sent out of LibCal, regardless of whether you are using the Springy email service or your own SMTP server. Head to Admin > System Settings > Email Queue to find filters with which you can narrow results, or to view the full contents of any email. Bonus! if an email was not submitted successfully and is marked with a “Failed” status, you can resubmit it. If your system sends out a large volume of email, you will also see any emails that are queued for impending sending.
  • You can now select which tab to land on when visiting the “Event Calendars” page. You can also specify a preferred Calendar. Go to Admin > Accounts > Edit Account > Preferences, or click your email address in the top, right corner to set preferences.

Upcoming LibCal Training Sessions:

Also check out our recorded sessions, and don’t miss the LibCal release notes on the Springshare Lounge! [Back to Top]

LibStaffer

  • We’ve modified the “Staff” Report so the correct “Next Shift” for a user always displays.
  • We fixed an issue that prevented schedules from printing in Landscape orientation.
  • Inactive users will now be available for reporting on the Scheduled Shifts report, when “All Schedules” is selected. These will be at the bottom of the staff list and be labeled “Inactive.”

Also check out our recorded training sessions, and don’t miss the LibStaffer release notes on the Springshare Lounge! [Back to Top]

LibInsight

Twelve Hour Time Format for Custom / Shared Dataset Recording – You will be able to select the time format to record any time-related fields in your custom/shared dataset. To select which time format you would like, head to System Settings > Dates & Currency > Record Data / Widget Time Format. Please note that the Analysis page will still render the entered time data in 24 hour format.

Filter COUNTER 5 Top 100 Titles by Platform

Ever wanted to view the Top 100 Databases, Journals, Books, Other titles by platform? Now you can! Simply select the individual platform you want to filter the top 100 title reports by in the COUNTER 5 Analysis page.

Check out the LibInsight release notes on the Springshare Lounge! [Back to Top]

That’s it for this round of updates from Springy HQ. We would like to thank you, our user community, for sharing all your great ideas with us! We love making them a reality and look forward to bringing you many more improvements in 2021. We are always here for you if have any suggestions or questions.

Promote Contactless Communication

In some parts of the world, lockdowns are taking place again. In others, the trend is heading that way. It’s looking like we’ll all be experiencing another shelter-in-place soon in order to stop the spread of this deadly virus. The good news, we know a lot more now than we did only eight short months ago. We’re not suddenly scrambling to a work-from-home environment or pivoting to online-only services in just a matter of days. To that end, we’d like to share our best tips for promoting contactless communication during yet another COVID-19 lockdown. Your patrons, students, customers might not be able to see you in person… but you can still ‘see’ them online.

Create Searchable COVID-19 FAQs in LibAnswers

Not only are we living through an unprecedented pandemic but an infodemic too. Your users are being inundated with conflicting and sometimes downright false “information”. It’s so hard to know where to go, online, to get credible information. Create COVID-19 searchable FAQs highlighting recent research, regional laws/regulations, and how the library’s hours/services are affected. This 35min training video covers how you can keep important information updated in your LibAnswers, including creating a COVOD-19 FAQ group.

Searchable COVID-19 FAQs in LibAnswers

Offer Live Chat with Screensharing/Webcam Functionality

You’ve spent time cultivating relationships with your patrons. They most likely know your face, your smile, and even your ‘funny’ jokes. (What building has the most stories? The Library! – cue the eyeroll). Those special bonds don’t need to end with remote services.  LibChat’s screensharing allows you to engage in back-and-forth chat and you can even conduct ‘live’ sessions with patrons with optional webcam functionality, recording, and more!

And, if you’re thinking you don’t have the bandwidth to offer chat or offer it for the number of hours your patrons would need it – our 24/7 Chat Cooperative is here to back you up with MLIS-degreed librarians. Enable 24/7/365 chat services or custom coverage hours.

What is the Status of Your Buildings & Services?

Is your building open? What about the 3D printer? Is curbside delivery available? Your patrons have questions about the status of your building, services, and more. Create a LibAnswers System & Status Dashboard (with an embeddable widget) and keep them updated 24/7 on your status. Make use of social media integration so if the status of a service changes, broadcast it out on Facebook and Twitter right from the Systems Status Dashboard. 


LibAnswers System & Status Dashboard

Keeping Staff Informed

It’s hard enough keeping staff updated and informed when you see them every day at the workplace. Updates to the manual go unnoticed. Post-it notes at the reference desk are overlooked. In our new work-from-home model, it’s even harder keeping staff informed especially if you’re relying on email and reply-all. We have some tips to help you use LibAnswers to create a powerful staff repository of information that is searchable, easily-updatable, and reduces your inbox clutter.

  • Create a robust internal staff knowledge base: Break out policies, login details, and staff-only information into individual restricted FAQs. It’s easy to search, browse, embed, and link them! This 26min training video covers all the steps.
  • Use LibChat for internal conversations & meetings: LibChat isn’t just for chatting with patrons. Set your chat status to internal and be available for quick chats with coworkers. Use LibChat screensharing to conduct internal meetings with a coworker or a whole department.
  • Create Internal Posts on the Systems & Status Dashboard: Not every post on the Systems & Status Dashboard might be suitable for the public. Create internal posts to update staff on a new process, COVID-19 restrictions, or planned downtime to a product or service.
Internal Posts on the System & Status Management Tool

Pickup Manager for Curbside/Contactless Communication

Our newest tool, Pickup Manager, integrates with multiple ILSes, LibCal, and LibAnswers to create a scheduling and communication platform for holds pickup. This way, your patrons can reserve their library items, schedule a time to pick them up, and communicate with you via chat and SMS/texting when they’ve arrived… all with seamless ILS integration to boot.

Springshare’s Pickup Manager

We’re In This Together

We know that this has been, and continues to be, an incredibly difficult and stressful time. Not only are you a library employee with all that entails but you’re also a friend, caretaker, child, or parent… trying to make sense of all the confusion, fear, and complexities that COVID-19 has brought both into your work-life and your personal life. And whether you’re working at the library or working from home, your work-lives and personal lives are now more intertwined than ever. How do we know this, well – because we’re going through this with you. Our Springy employees work-from-home and are now full-time teachers, caretakers, and more. And supporting loved ones who are working, and who are also dealing with the isolation that comes with the pandemic. So we know what you’re going through, because we’re going through it right alongside you. And we’re here to help. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions, feedback, requests, recipes, or tips on keeping a 7 year old engaged in their Zoom class! We’re here to help and we’ll get through this in our typical Springy fashion… together.

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. 🙂

Tips & Tricks for the Remote-First World

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?

Here at Springshare, we know you’re under a lot of pressure and we’re here to help you adjust quickly and ensure that your library can provide effective support to online learners and community members that cannot physically be in the library. But first things first, we want to assure you that your Springshare Service will continue uninterrupted during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Academic & K12 Institutions

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

We’ve written this stellar FAQ on three different ways you can embed your LibAnswers and LibChat content in your Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, Sakai, and other LTI-compliant courseware tools.

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 LibGuides CMS is not in the cards, don’t worry – the other two ways outlined in the FAQ provide detailed instructions for embedding LibAnswers and LibChat widgets using either Javascript or non-Javascript methods. Bottom-line, if you need to integrate the library’s virtual reference services into your courseware tools… we’ve got you covered.

LibAnswers Screensharing + LibCal = Booking Virtual Appointments

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.

COVID-19 LibGuides:

 

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.

LibAnswers Virtual Reference Platform

If you need assistance with quickly pivoting to remote-only virtual reference service we can help with that. If you do not have an effective online chat platform with email reference capability, FAQ creator, live chat with screensharing & webinars functionality, and social media monitoring, or if you haven’t yet set some of these options up in your system, we can get you up and running on our LibAnswers platform quickly, including plenty of training / online help: live and recorded sessions, Springboards, and SpringyU courses on FAQ Groups (limit to LibAnswers).

  • 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.

LibWizard Self-Grading Quizzes & Interactive Tutorials

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.

LibWizard Interactive Tutorial on Downloading eBooks

 

All Libraries – Bulk Canceling LibCal Appointments, Spaces & Equipment Reservations

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.

LibAnswers 24/7 Global Cooperative

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.
    • Thursday, March 19: 2:00pm – 2:45pm U.S. ET
  • Engaging Online Learners with Quizzes & Tutorials – with the move to online instruction across the world, learn how you can create online quizzes and tutorials using LibWizard to supplement your instruction programs.

    • Tuesday, March 24: 2:00pm – 3:00pm U.S. ET

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.

LibAnswers 24/7 Chat Cooperative: Views from the Patron Side

We’re T-minus 9 days until the LibAnswers 24/7 Chat Cooperative launch (wahoo!). We’ve shown you some of the Co-Op’s functionality and snazzy features you and your librarians can use behind the scenes, but we know that, at the root of it all, the Co-Op is really about helping people. It’s about serving patrons you otherwise may not reach or a segment of your community you’ve struggled to engage in the past. 

In today’s blog post we’re going to focus on just that. We’re switching the view to two individual patrons: a student struggling to download a research article during peak times and a public library patron trying to access a tax form late at night. After setting the stage, you’ll see the chat as it happens on their end, and finish up by discovering how the 24/7 Co-Op’s features provided a way for an MLIS-degreed librarian from another school/library to seamlessly help these patrons as if they were their own.

So let’s pull up a chair and check out the action!

Using the Academic Cooperative to Turn a Missed Chat into a Successful Chat

The scene: Stewart is a Springy University student working on a research paper but is having trouble getting the article. He’s frustrated and needs help. It’s 5pm, one week before midterms, and all of his librarians are busy answering questions from other students. Luckily, his library has the Global Academic Co-Op as one of their chat widget fallbacks, so a Co-Op librarian can chime in if no one from Springy University responds within 15 seconds. 

The 24/7 Academic Cooperative chat (No audio): 

Not able to watch the silent video? (View the chat transcript)

We’d call this chat interaction a success! Stewart has the article he needs for his paper. Let’s take a look at how a Co-Op member from a completely different school was able to help Stewart.

  1. Right off the bat, Stewart was greeted with a message letting him know that a librarian from another college was answering his question. This text is customizable so that patrons know right away if they’re hearing from their own librarian or a Co-Op librarian.
  2. In the LibChat dashboard, the Co-Op librarian was able to see that Stewart started the chat from the library’s A-Z database page and was using Firefox. They were able to use the referring URL to go directly to where Stewart had started his search and ask a troubleshooting question.
  3. When that didn’t work, they logged into PsycDatabase to attempt to download the article. How’d they do that? By using the 24/7 Staff Policy FAQs available right from the LibChat dashboard! Springy University had already supplied the login information so that the Co-Op librarian could access it just as if they were a staff member.
  4. Since they didn’t have any trouble, the librarian used LibChat’s file upload feature to get the article directly to Stewart.
  5. Now that Stewart’s immediate issue has been addressed, they asked if Stewart would like a Springy University librarian to follow up with him. 
  6. Since he has had trouble in the past, he said yes. Then, all the Co-Op librarian needed was his email address to send the request directly to his library’s ticketing queue. Stewart will hear back as soon as a Springy University librarian is able to answer it.

Using the Public Cooperative to Reach Previously Invisible Patrons

The scene: Penny is a full-time working parent looking to start her own consulting firm, but she can only dedicate time to launching the business late in the evenings. One night, she’s having trouble finding the form she needs to create an Employer ID with the IRS. Springy Library is a member of the Public 24/7 Co-Op, so she can ask for help right from the library’s website at this late hour. 

The 24/7 Public Cooperative chat (No audio): 

Not able to watch the silent video? (View the chat transcript)

Some community members rarely make it to the library due to their busy schedules (work/life balance, what’s that again?). So when the chat widget is offline, patrons can search what’s available on the website and in FAQs, but if they run into any trouble they have to wait or get help from a friend or family member, which could take days. With 24/7 coverage, the Springy Library chat is never offline, so Penny can get personalized help and a view of the Co-Op librarian’s screen (which is all she really needed to overcome that hurdle). Let’s take a look at a few features the public Co-Op librarian used to help her out:

  1. Again, Penny was able to see right away that she was being helped by a public librarian from another institution. Since her library was closed, the chat went directly to the Public Co-Op, so she didn’t have to wait long for a response.
  2. Chat users can easily see the referring URL from the patron, so the Co-Op librarian hopped directly to the point where Penny contacted the library.
  3. When Penny expressed having trouble finding the right link, the librarian was able to create and share a video using their own screen capture software to share its link/ file. Penny was able to follow the steps on her end.
  4. Finally, since the Co-Op librarian could easily access the patron’s home library’s FAQs directly from the LibChat dashboard, they quickly found and shared the info with Penny, so she has those opening hours on hand.

Want to Learn More About the 24/7 Global Cooperative?

If you’re not a LibAnswers user yet, here’s a short overview video that gives you a tour and includes a deep dive into the LibChat features. 

The LibAnswers Global Reference Cooperative can be added to an existing LibAnswers system and includes hundreds of participating librarians and 20+ Springshare MLS librarians, delivering the highest quality co-op reference coverage for libraries.

  • The LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative allows librarians across multiple LibAnswers systems to provide collaborative chat reference.
  • Librarians answer patron chats on behalf of all member libraries within the cooperative.
  • This means, all of your patrons can get library help, even when your physical doors are closed.

If you’re ready to get started, drop us a line!

The LibAnswers 24/7 Chat Cooperative Your Patrons Will Love!

Launching Soon! Going Live Feb 28, 2020 Add 24 7 or custom coverage hours

The 24/7 Chat Cooperative is Near-Ready for Take Off!

It’s an exciting time for us here at Springshare as we prepare to launch the LibAnswers 24/7 Chat Cooperative. It’s going live on February 28, 2020. To answer the demand for a look at how the Cooperative will work, we’ve set up more sneak-peek webinar dates in case you missed the first round because they were booked solid or the times didn’t work out for you.

Since our acquisition of QuestionPoint in May of 2019, we’ve been diligently working to build the infrastructure for the Global Chat Cooperative. We wouldn’t be Springshare if we didn’t add some super fun features. Plus, we’ve created opportunities for you to participate in the ways that make the most sense for your particular library needs.

The best part? Your patrons are the real winners as they get the help they need — when they need it. That’s a mission statement at its simplest and we’re geared up to help you make that a reality.

Just Now Hearing About the 24/7 Global Cooperative?

First things first! If you’re not a LibAnswers user yet, here’s a short overview video that gives you a tour and includes a deep dive into the LibChat features.

The LibAnswers Global Reference Cooperative can be added to an existing LibAnswers system and includes hundreds of participating librarians and 20+ Springshare MLS librarians, delivering the highest quality co-op reference coverage for libraries.

  • The LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative allows librarians across multiple LibAnswers systems to provide collaborative chat reference.
  • Librarians answer patron chats on behalf of all member libraries within the cooperative.
  • This means, all of your patrons can get library help, even when your physical doors are closed.

The Flexibility to Serve Your Patrons.

Having options is the key to this 24/7 Cooperative unlocking possibilities for your patrons. There will be two global cooperatives to start, one for academic libraries and one for public libraries. We plan to add more down the line, for instance for law libraries, medical libraries, etc. You can also exercise the option to create your own local cooperative for your consortium, state, etc.

  • You will have the option to decide your coverage levels. You may want coverage 24/7, you may not. You can decide which hours you need a hand with based on your library and patrons.
  • You can participate in the Co-op or just get the backup coverage without participating.
  • You can get help with more than just chat services if you need it.

Prioritizing the patron experience is critical to creating a library that your community turns to and needs and loves. Anticipating the needs of patrons is a challenge because people are the ultimate variable. The LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative helps you provide answers to questions

  • for the students who are in class all day and then work jobs to help pay for school and subsequently must do their research at odd hours.
  • for patrons who work evenings or the graveyard shift or start their days pre-dawn.
  • for library users who need to reach you during holidays or snow days or when they’re up late with a young baby and need recommendations for books on sleep training.

It’s hard to know when someone is going to need your help with research — because their teen just remembered an assignment on Ancient Rome is due tomorrow. Nor can we know when someone is going to suddenly find a need to see sample resumes and cover letters. We can’t anticipate what they’ll ask.

But there’s a chance they might want to talk with a librarian… after your doors are closed. Springshare’s 24/7 Global Cooperative can help you be prepared for that — and get them the answers they need. Come to a sneak-peek session and learn how it all works.

New Sneak-Peek Sessions Added!

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

Can’t attend? Don’t worry. Just go ahead and register for any session and select ‘Watch the Recording’ on the sign-up form. We’ll send you the link to view the recording as soon as it’s available. To ask questions now or to get more information, contact us.

Webinar Schedule:

LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative aka QuestionPoint Acquisition

Thank you to everyone who emailed us with excitement about the news of Springshare acquiring QuestionPoint. Besides the info in the press release, and the LibGuide (of course 😉 ) we created to answer migration questions  (https://buzz.springshare.com/qp-migration), we’d like to spell out our reasoning behind this very big deal for all libraries interested in online reference service.

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 qp@springshare.com.

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.

So.much.amazing.stuff.is.coming!

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  🙂