Archive for LibChat

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.

Update Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Your Springshare Service will Continue Uninterrupted

We at Springshare see our mission as twofold: First, as a software company we provide web-based SaaS solutions to help libraries with their communication, outreach and user engagement efforts. Second, we strive to provide you with amazing support to help you accomplish your goals of assisting patrons with their research and information needs through our software. With the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many institutions are canceling programs, classes, and events, while at the same time putting more emphasis on online teaching and learning (online-only classes and the like). Subsequently, the demand for your online & virtual services, online outreach, and online communication in general will certainly increase, too.


To that end, you have questions about how Springshare will be able to support you during this time. Rest assured we are ready to help and we’ll do what it takes to get you the assistance you need.

The Springshare Team – No Disruption of Service

UC San Diego’s LibGuide on the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Springshare is a remote-first workplace and we do not anticipate any disruptions in our operations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, as most employees work from their home offices. We also have ample staff resources available, so if some staff members were to contract the virus and are unable to work, other staff members would take over their duties to ensure no interruptions to the Springshare service or our company workflows.

Our cloud-based server infrastructure is located in various data centers around the world, hosted by AWS (Amazon Web Services), and we have no reason to believe that there would be server outages and/or connectivity problems due to COVID-19.

Therefore we believe that Springshare services and the availability of our apps will not be impacted by this outbreak.

 

Attendance at Upcoming Conferences & Shows

There are several upcoming conferences where Springshare has planned to attend. We currently intend to go to all upcoming conferences, unless they are canceled.

  • SCELCapalooza Vendor Day: March 12
  • Computers in Libraries (Booth #315): March 31 – April 2
    • UPDATE: This event has been canceled. Official statement from CIL.
  • ELUNA Annual Meeting: May 5 – 8
  • ALA Annual Conference: June 26 – 29

 

LibAnswers 24/7 Chat Cooperative – We are Prepared for Potential Increases in Chat Traffic

On February 28, the LibAnswers 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative launched! For those of you 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.

Our mission is to help you succeed – by providing great service to your users. To that end, since the Cooperative is staffed not only by Springshare 24/7 Librarians but also by libraries around the world who contribute hours to the Cooperative, we ask that you send any contribution hours changes here. We also request that you honor your contribution schedule during these uncertain times. We will continue to monitor the chat activity across the Global Cooperative and make adjustments, and communicate information, as appropriate.

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:

Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing – Tip #2: Keep Patrons Informed

Tip #2 – Keep Patrons Informed

We’re getting down to the part of the season where there are atypical hours and even closures either due to inclement weather or observed holidays. Just as important, there are some libraries that are anxious to let patrons know that they will, in fact, be open. LibAnswers has so many features in place that let you get ahead of the questions by taking a few proactive steps to keep your patrons in the know.

 

Honor Your Social Obligations 

The LibAnswers system has a Social Media Management tool built into it. Most libraries use it to broadcast details on all the fun happening at the library, but don’t forget, besides reminders, it’s designed to help you plan ahead, too! You can create and schedule Tweets, Pinterest pins, and Facebook posts — all from right inside LibAnswers. So, make sure to utilize these channels to let your patrons know:

  • About any changes to services at your library
  • If you’ll have adjusted or abbreviated hours
  • And, share any days you will be closed

Just go to Social > Create >  Select the Channel (Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest). Customize your message and schedule it to post at a future date and time. You can do this to maintain a social media presence even when you’re not open, or just to keep ahead of your to-do list. It doesn’t have to be critical FYIs… schedule any post!

Get Proactive About Your Answers

The beauty of LibAnswers is that — no matter which channels a patron prefers to use to communicate with your library, you can be there just by signing into the LibAnswers Platform. To save you and your team a lot of time during these weeks, write out the answers to your super popular FAQs of the season and then place them everywhere you need them.

  • FAQs – Wish you had Seasonal FAQs for those who like to search for answers? You can have them with the Status Change feature! Create the FAQ > select Change Status > opt to Schedule a Status Change. This means you can change the status to published just at the beginning of the season so that it’s not in the system all year confusing people. Instead the seasonal FAQ can be published when you want and then also be unpublished at a date you choose, as well. These can also be useful for extended hours during finals, etc. 
  • Macros – Create a few macros for tickets and SMS messages. When those queues fill up with questions like, “How late are you open today?” you can effortlessly tackle them one by one with your macros in place.
  • Canned Messages – LibChat allows for system-wide canned messages. So, Admins, go ahead and create some ready-to-go answers for your whole staff to use when chatting. Label them Thanksgiving Hours, Exam Hours, Holiday Closings, etc. Just be sure they’re clear at-a-glance because chat is a speedy endeavor, then let the team know they’re available for use! These canned messages can be easily re-ordered so that you can move them to the top when the time is right!

Have a Backup Plan

Some libraries operate with minimal staff during these last weeks of the year. Find out who is going to be part of that skeleton crew and see if they’d be willing to be set up as a fallback monitor to be designated in your LibChat widget. For instance, if the Reference Department monitors the widget for questions that come in, see if Circulation would be okay to have new chats sent to them in case the Reference Department is offline. It’s also possible to select specific operators. LibStaffer could help you know who’s working.

This time of year, doesn’t have to be so unpredictable. When you are open, use the Internal Notes field in Reference Analytics to leave a tag like “Holidays”. It will help you search for all the transactions — for which you recorded analytics from live ones to chats to tickets, etc. — that happened during the holiday season. This data will help you see if your patrons are engaging pretty heavily or even at a normal level with the library, or if it’s really quite slow at this time like you imagine it would be. Let the data replace the guesswork.

From all of us at Springshare, “Enjoy the rest of 2019 and we’ll see you in the new year!”

LibAnswers 24/7 Global Cooperative

Interested in looking ahead? We have a recording of the LibAnswers 24/7 Co-Op Sneak Peek session for you to view. To watch, click here.

Springshare Helps You Manage Library Schedule Breaks With Ease

Just In Time! Learn How to Keep Your Calendars and Schedules Rolling Along.

Tis the Season! Between people on your staff asking for time off and adjusted Library schedules to multi-day closures and not-business-as-usual office hours, plus the occasional storm, and don’t forget the flu —  this time of the year can be a little chaotic. You have to be especially proactive, making sure to clearly communicate any changes to your patrons. Want to avoid a face-off with the Abominable Snowman? Use multiple methods to get the word out.

Learn how Springshare tools like LibStaffer, LibCal, and LibAnswers help prepare you for this season so, any surprises…will be good surprises!

LibStaffer First! Because You Want to Run Smoothly from the Inside Out.

When there are challenges ahead, get your house in order. Look internally to see what you can do to keep the library staff informed of the increased or decreased hours in the upcoming weeks and months. Follow these LibStaffer tips to ensure smiles on the library floor.

  • Connect – You can avoid the mess of pulling schedules back to revise them based on seasonal hours. Take the steps to connect LibStaffer Schedules to corresponding LibCal hours for specific locations. Admin > Schedule Settings > Edit Settings > LibCal Integration > Select a Library or department from your Hours list > Save. This way, if there are modified opening and/or closing hours, you can be extra diligent by opting to overlay the current hours when you assign people to shifts.
  • Manage –  Balance allowing your team the flexibility to swap and give up shifts with providing ample time for Managers and all involved to be ready for the changes. You can set up new parameters for both swaps and give-ups effectively restricting them to a selected amount of time before the shift starts. Admin > Schedule Settings > Edit Settings >Swap or Give Up Shifts > Enable restriction > Select Amount of Time.

LibStaffer is full of super useful features to help you stay on top of who is working and when. Don’t forget these concrete ways to keep everyone informed.

  1. Customize the Admin Alert Box to broadcast any policies for requesting vacation days.
  2. In the Approvals Pending page, LibStaffer lets you know if the person requesting time off is already scheduled for that time. You will also find the ability to approve, deny, or edit the request and see the staff member’s history — so make an effort to decide their fates as soon as possible. It’s appreciated because, during this time of year, sometimes travel arrangements have to be made. 

LibCal for All Seasons!

Every day of the year, LibCal keeps your library efficient and visible. LibCal shares your vitals: the what, when, and where. To make sure it’s the authority, keep it current!

  • Hours Module – Since the October updates, the hours in your LibCal system can now be associated with an Event Calendar you have. It is likely already connected to other components of your LibCal system. Never fear this time of year! You don’t have to change everything and then change it back, you can simply add and manage exceptions.
  • Appointments – Don’t forget to think about yourself! By this we mean, have a look at your availability that you share via Appointments. Perhaps you’re taking some days off and want to stack your appointments before you go. Or, maybe you want to modify your schedule so you can get on the road to see family? No worries! LibCal makes it easy to add and delete availability times from your appointment schedule.
  • To be doubly careful you don’t get booked when you can’t be — be sure to sync your Appointments availability with your LibStaffer shifts. This way if you’re scheduled for a shift in LibStaffer, you will be marked as unavailable for an appointment. Remember with cold and flu season, the shifts might be a bit unpredictable so this is a good precautionary measure.

LibAnswers for Anticipating the Questions.

The spectacular thing about LibAnswers is that patrons can ask their questions when they feel like asking them, whether the library is open or already closed for the day. Additionally, the system also has lots of little places you can customize to make sure you are communicating masterfully. 

  • SMS Keywords – Promote your library’s SMS number heavily. Then be sure to set up a number of Keywords. This allows your patrons to text a word or phrase to your SMS number and receive a text with relevant information right away. So if they text “hours” they’d receive a reply with the library’s hours (which you have made sure is current).
  • Autoload Delay – Configure the autoload delay feature to set up a proactive chat widget. Customize the language for the text of the header to say something fun like, “Remember, the library will be closed from X to X. Would you like to chat with a librarian now?” Everyone’s getting a reminder whether they decided to take you up on the chat or not.

Springshare tools work well together so go ahead and cross announce to cover all your touchpoints. Create a LibAnswers FAQ about seasonal hours and then link to your LibCal hours in the answer. Make edits to your Using the Library LibGuide to include the modified hours information and the new FAQ. Make an FAQ on the policies for taking sick days and vacations for your LibStaffer Admin alerts box. Be creative. Have fun. Customize language where you can to remind everyone that there are changes. Then infuse the library with apple cinnamon air fresheners to keep everyone smiling and looking forward to it all.

Ideas for Re-engaging Patrons in LibAnswers

If you’ve been using LibAnswers for awhile, you might be looking for fun and new ways to reinvigorate and boost usage of your various LibAnswers services.It happens to all of us, we get into a groove and then coast along.

But, if you’re noticing your stats are staying consistently steady, or flatter than Wile E. Coyote after using a catapult (this pun brought to you by Springy Greg! 🙂 ), it might be time to consider implementing some of these tips to turn that plateaued bar chart into a steep spike!

Reimagining LibAnswers FAQs

In case you missed it, SpringyCamp – Springshare’s virtual user conference, occurred on July 31, 2019. Among the amazing lineup of presenters (all of which you can watch here), was a presentation by Mikki Smith from the Corning Museum of Glass on Reimagining LibAnswers FAQs.

Bit of Background

The Corning Museum of Glass has been using LibAnswers since 2014 and created most of their public FAQs from an old database of FAQs from a previous system. Many of the FAQs included attached .doc bibliographics.

Around 2016, they became a bit more selective about which questions should turn into public FAQs, but did not retroactively apply that criteria to existing FAQs.

In 2017, they began to add images to existing FAQs and to use FAQs to highlight exhibitions.

Then, in 2018, looking at data from Google Analytics, they decided to reimagine FAQs as a mobile-friendly experience. Why? Because they noticed that a large percentage of their visitors were from mobile-devices. Thankfully, LibAnswers comes mobile-first right out of the box. But with some small tweaks to their FAQ content, they were able to make their FAQs more user-friendly, more mobile-friendly, and saw their usage stats increase.

Corning Museum of Glass FAQ – On Desktop

Starting with 1,300 FAQs to revise, it was a big project to undertake. Here’s some of the tips from Mikki’s presentation on reimagining their FAQs as an up-to-date visually appealing set of questions:

Same FAQ – On Mobile

  • Visuals – The Corning Museum of Glass has gorgeous objects on display. They make full use of that by embedding images into their FAQs to enrich the user-experience.
  • Improving the Metadata – Improving the FAQ metadata (FAQ title, answer, keywords, topics) helps to improve the SEO and findability of their FAQs. From their Google Analytics data, they found that 80% of their FAQ-traffic came as the result of a Google Search. Meaning that most users weren’t starting at the Library website. They started at Google and then found one of the FAQs because of a Google search on their topic of interest.
  • Actively Linking to Content – The Library and Museum have a ton of content to share with users. Don’t reinvent that content in your FAQs. Link to it in your FAQs to improve SEO and reduce duplication of content and efforts. Mikki and the team try and have at least one link out to existing Library and Museum content on each FAQ so it’s more of an experience and an opportunity to explore.
  • Rich Digital Content – The Library & Museum have videos on their YouTube page. By embedding them in their FAQs, they’re actively promoting their digital content and improving the experience for the patron.
  • Establish a Workflow – Create a workflow to ensure FAQs are updated. Mikki’s team divided the FAQs so each librarian has a dedicated number to review each month.
  • Promote on Social – Proactively promote your FAQs on social media to improve findability and increase your digital outreach.
  • Highlight Exhibitions – Whether or not your library has exhibitions, you might do custom displays for books (i.e. Poetry Month) or a promotion of archives, or an event. Consider creating a LibGuide on that exhibition, event, or display and then embed FAQs right onto it. Corning Museum of Glass did this with their New Glass Now Exhibition LibGuide and then added a tab to their LibAnswers homepage to highlight those FAQs there too.

Highlighting Exhibition, Display, or Event FAQs right on your LibAnswers Homepage

 

Launching Proactive LibChat

If you’ve been offering virtual chat reference services for awhile now, your users might be accustomed to the service and your usage stats are steady, but not increasing.

If you’re looking for a way to increase usage stats of your LibChat reference service, without launching a whole new advertising campaign, consider implementing Proactive LibChat. Proactive LibChat simply turns your LibChat widget into a proactive one – popping out after a customizable period of time asking the user if they need help.

So, instead of waiting for them to ask for help, you can offer help first. Enabling Proactive LibChat is as easy clicking a check-box on your LibChat Widget Builder. We outline how to setup Proactive chat on this blog post.

Institutions that have enabled proactive LibChat saw varying increases in usage from 230% (CSU – Dominguez Hills) to 600% (University of San Diego’s Copley Library). 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!

Upcoming Webinars – Guest Speakers

If you’d like to learn more about LibAnswers Proactive Chat, we have two upcoming guest speaker sessions from real libraries using Proactive LibChat. Sign-up below:

Optimized Session

If you’re in the European Union and you’d like to learn more about LibAnswers and proactive LibChat, we have an optimized time for you!

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  🙂

 

Top 10 Springshare Blog Posts of 2018

2019 is upon us and everyone loves a recap post.

We wrote 58 blog posts in 2018 (phew, our fingers are tired!) showcasing awesome new functionality in Springy Tools, guest presentations, SpringyCamp conferences, and so much more.

So join us as we look back and highlight our top ten blog posts of last year.

hacker1. Security & Protection of your Springy Sites

January 25, 2018

If cloud-computing had a theme in 2018, it would’ve been HTTPS. In this blog post, we announced new functionality to route all patron traffic in Springy tools (LibGuides, LibCal, LibAnswers, etc.) through HTTPS. Plus, we added integration with Let’s Encrypt to provide completely free HTTPS security certificates for all your Springy v2 tools. Talk about starting 2018 off with a bang!

2. LibCal/LibStaffer Integration

March 14, 2018

Don’t you just love it when your tools seamlessly work together? We do, too. That’s why we added two-way integration between LibCal (your calendaring tool) and LibStaffer (your staffing/scheduling tool).

In LibCal, if you have a confirmed Scheduler Appointment – you can’t be booked for a LibStaffer shift and vice versa. 2018 – the year you stopped accidentally double-booking yourself. Huzzah!

3. GDPR Compliance & Our New Mailing List

April 25, 2018

In preparation for the GDPR’s enforcement on May 25, 2018, we released tons of features to help ensure your compliance. And, if you think, “Hey, our institution doesn’t reside in the EU, so this doesn’t apply to us.” Think again. If you service even a single EU citizen, no matter where in the world that EU citizen resides, the GDPR applies to you. And, while we were on the subject of privacy, we revamped our email list. So, if you want receive our Springshare newsletter, new product releases, training webinars, and SpringyCamp announcements – you need to explicitly opt-in here.

4. LibTote and LibTote Platinum

April 1, 2018

I mean, who doesn’t love a good April Fool’s joke?! This blog post was dedicated to our fake product launch – LibTote and LibTote Platinum. Smart Tote technology you can take with you, to help you take other things. Why? Well, because there are two kinds of Librarians in the world… and they both love Tote bags. If you need a chuckle, take a minute (or two!) and revisit this blog post and dream of a world where your Tote bag has Blue’tote functionality, smart expansion, and robust usage stats.
Sigh – if only we lived in such a world. 

5. New LibChat Operator Interface

June 28, 2018

LibAnswers with LibChat saw a ton of updates last year. But we kicked it off with a blog post announcing an entirely new LibChat operator console designed to help you manage loads of patron chats more efficiently and chat internally with colleagues as easily as possible. But, this was just the tip of the new features iceberg. We, later, announced more chat improvements, ideas for discovery layer integration, and our screensharing & webinar functionality (coming January 2019).

6. SpringyCamp Summer Series

July 31, 2018

In case you missed it, SpringyCamp is our virtual user conference (completely free!) where Springy users share how they’re using their Springshare tools at their institutions to attendees who watch from around the world. Literally, we have people who get up at 3am their time to join! Our 2018 Summer Series featured three virtual conferences, June, July, and August, with some amazing presenters and showstopping presentations. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the first time around, no worries – watch a recording any time.

7. SUSHI Fetching in LibInsight

July 3, 2018

LibInsight is your data storage and analysis powerhouse – and it got even more powerhouse’y last July. We rolled out automated fetching for your SUSHI compliant E-Journals, Databases, and eBooks datasets. Simply connect LibInsight to your database vendors and your e-resource usage data will automatically port into LibInsight for easy analysis.

8. Essential LibGuides You Need

September 17, 2018

We’ve seen our fair share of excellent LibGuides. This blog post details the guides you should have and ones you didn’t even know you needed! If you’re looking for LibGuides inspiration from other libraries, don’t miss this list highlighting just some of our favorite essential LibGuides. And, if you’re looking to build some LibGuides on current events, don’t miss this blog post either!

9. LibStaffer Workflow Forms

October 11, 2018

We released a really big feature for LibStaffer at the end of last year that helps you streamline the way your library processes various staffing-related forms. LibStaffer Workflow Forms enables you to create customized online forms that facilitate the entire life cycle – after the form is submitted. This includes automated email notifications, full audit trails, and the ability to view the entire workflow/history for each form submission. Looking for ways to use LibStaffer Workflow Forms? Check out this blog post highlighting 5 Ways to Use Workflow Forms.

10. New Australia / Asia-Pacific Datacenter

December 10, 2018

When you start a year with a bang it has to end with one too, by announcing announcing a dedicated data center for our Australia, New Zealand, and Asia-Pacific customers. In early 2019, we’ll automatically move all customers located in the Asia-Pacific region to this dedicated server cluster. This new data center is our 3rd cluster, with dedicated geographical servers, alongside our Canadian and European clusters. These dedicated data centers help ensure that your institution is in compliance with local laws regarding transmission of patron data in/out of the United States.

 

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.